I took Louie out for a nice ride in the outdoor arena this afternoon. He was feeling good so we worked on a few ground poles, a few jumps (like 2 or 3 total, so as not to overdo it), some cantering and hand-galloping. We had fun and I got a good work out too. I think I'm going to be sore tomorrow.
It was my second ride in my brand new stirrup leathers. I hadn't bought a new pair since purchasing my saddle, so I felt it was time to find some, as all of the ones I had were old and stretched out, uneven, and in order to be close to the same length, I had them on hole 9 on one side and hole 11 on the other. I had one pair of very nice stitched Beval leathers, but they were the standard 54" length and not long enough with my long legs to fit the end through the keeper on the flap. It was time for an upgrade. So, after much thought, I purchased these Nunn Finer nylon cored double stitched leathers in 1" x 60" size in a color that would hopefully match my saddle. Well, I love them. They're a bit bulky and not the softest leathers on earth, but they are very strong and should be durable. Plus the color options are wonderful. I will be sure to switch my right and left leathers out from time to time, but these really shouldn't stretch too much.
Well, before the stirrup leather purchase, I had occasionally felt crooked in the saddle, especially over the past month or two, so I thought that was what was to blame. In the past 3 weeks, my horse has been adjusted by a chiropractor, my saddle's flocking has been professionally adjusted to now a perfect fit (it really wasn't bad before, just tiny little adjustments), and I've found these new leathers, which are exactly even. And, even after all of that, I still managed to find myself crooked by the end of the ride. I felt like I was going to slide right down off of Louie's right hip, my left hip was higher than my right, and when I got off, my saddle was actually crooked, tilted slightly to the right, so that my right stirrup iron was about an inch lower than my left! Ugh. It must be me! I do have problems with my left sacroiliac joint, and this frequently shifts while riding, but I think it is time for me to commit to a core strengthening pilates/yoga program.
I know many riders have found themselves in this same situation. Just imagine the confusion we must be sending to our horses when we are so crooked and unbalanced ourselves. It is no wonder our horses prefer one lead and one direction of bend. Tonight, when tracking to the left, Louie had been self-maintaining a bend to the outside, unless I actively worked to keep him bent to the inside. It makes perfect sense though, by bending to the right, he was helping to try to shift me to the left more, to be centered over him instead of falling out of the right side of my saddle. Horses are smart, especially Saddlebreds.
Well, here's to the start of "Leah in the Making" as I attempt to straighten myself out so that we can ride more centered again.