Well I can’t lie, after getting the O.K. from our trimmer to try and get a saddle on Bubba again, I was very discouraged by his reaction. The first ride was absolutely dreadful. Feeling defeated, confused and at the end of my rope, I untacked, apologized and put Bubba back in his stall. We had worked so hard to figure all of this out and yet it seemed that nothing had changed. Was it all a waste? I felt like the tiny world of knowledge that I’d found support in had just vanished into thin air and I was floating through space without a single hope to grasp hold of. My horse was still broken. All the effort and faith I’d put into all of this hadn’t seemed to have made a difference at all.
Later, after talking it over with a few people I came to the realization that he’d been standing for over a month being spoiled like a giant lab dog. Not to mention, he’s a bit of a drama queen. I began to gather a bit of hope about me, and after a little break and a heck of a lot of prayer, I tried again. This time, I really began to watch him. Was he really in pain or was he just mad because I was putting something on him that may have caused discomfort in the past and, being the smarty-hooves that he was, he just hadn’t forgotten about it yet?
I also had to remind myself that this horse was wonderful and magical and all that jazz before, but he was far from perfect. He had always acted up when I gave leg cues and especially if he’d had stomach pain why wouldn’t he still do the same if not be even more wary of it now? He doesn’t know yet if/that he’s been healed just like we don’t. So with that in mind, we pressed on.
It’s been a little over a week now since we started Bubba on U-Gard and Simplifly. Yesterday, I walked into a local tack shop and was met by a Wintec Aussie saddle (older model, no CAIR, no interchangeable gullet) with a very promising looking gullet width and nice thick panels that look like they’d distribute my weight very well. It was also at an incredibly low price and very well kept. The shop keeper let me know I could try it and bring it back if it didn’t fit. They also had a veeeerrryyyyyy nice fleeceworks dressage pad that fit the saddle well and was discounted tremendously because it had a rip in it. I figured, “what have I got to lose?”
Now I’m already a believer in Wintec. I love their stuff, moreso their English saddles than western saddles. This saddle is like a dressage saddle with some mouse ears and extra rigging dees attached. I personally love it but I think you’d need to already like Australian saddles or be used to the mouse ears before you might love it, as others are not so thrilled. Fleeceworks, on the other hand, I always thought was a bit much. I have the cheaper imitation half pad for my All Purpose saddle and I like it very much. This fleeceworks pad has changed my view completely. My horse did not sweat excessively under this ridiculously thick pad. I could also feel how cushy and thick it was even through the pad. Actually, my horse didn’t sweat hardly at all. And that’ saying something for him because he used to just pour sweat until his blanket was soaked and his girth was all crusty with salt.
I was in love with this saddle the moment I sat on it, but it wasn’t about me. This was about Bubba. He was very concerned but still willing to try and allowed me to put the saddle on him, check it for a good fit, slowly ease the girth up and check it again, and then walk him around, and check it again…and again before I mounted up.
(I feel the need to mention that he has a pretty nasty thrush attack in his two front frogs and his soles are exfoliating, but after cleaning them and putting his boots on, he began to move waaaaay more comfortably)
Once we had his Boa Boots on…oh man… I fell in love with my horse all over again. He started out with short, stiff strides and then began to relax, drop his head and sighed several times. He listened very intently, turned and stopped easily, and began to just float around as if walking on clouds. I gave him a break, some water and a bit of a snack with some Bermuda pellets to help ease the stress of any acid that might be in his stomach, then we continued from the roundpen down to the arena. He walked around with a nice low head, didn’t give me much of a fuss about anything except a few stops at the gate which were quickly dispatched. The first time I asked him to trot was such a disoriented mess that I thought his legs might just fall off, but after a few transitions from walk to trot and back and forth again, he began to smooth out. By the end of the day, he was going through his transitions so smooth, responding to just calf pressure (I can’t really reach his sides with my heel because the fleeceworks pad is so thick, but he doesn’t need it), and I could get him to do his “Grand Prix” slow trot as well as a nice smooth working trot and even a canter, which was weird at first but also smoothed out. Now I know I can make him sound like the perfect horse via internet so I have to say there were some rough spots in between. Horses rely so much on us for balance and Bubba is one horse that will show you just how much that’s true. If we went into a trot or canter in a weird way, he would get clunky and disoriented as if he was falling over, or he would tuck his head and pick up his hind end just a little to tell me I was asking him something that he thought was dumb, but for only our third ride after this long and frustrating journey, I couldn’t be more pleased with him.
Needless to say, I will be purchasing the saddle and continuing him on U-Gard as well as bearing down on his hoof treatment again and always riding in his boots.
As for the Simplifly, I didn’t immediately notice a lack of flies, but I did not notice a swarm of flies either. Neither did my close friend who feeds and helps clean the stalls. After that day that I realized there was no swarm, I began to pay more attention to the number of flies on him and his manure. There have been almost zero flies on his manure as well as Gem’s but there have still been some flies on the horses. Still, the number of flies has gone down and I definitely think this product does something…but I think this would be much more effective for a horse owner who has all their own horses on the property, or even several owners if they were using the product simultaneously. I think the key to success is that everyone feeds it to their horses. But since I’m the only one who is using it right now I think that plays a part in the results. Still, the product goes a long way and I definitely think it’s worth the money.