“That saddle doesn’t need to be so tight.”
A horse demonstration by a state 4-H champion more than four decades ago has never been forgotten. She said too much pressure of the saddle girth around the horse limits breathing, deters performance and is hazardous to the horse and handler.
Her advice has not been forgotten, but more our concern is making sure the saddle is tight enough that it doesn’t turn on the horse’s back. Not only do we fall off, but the horse becomes frightened and can learn to buck, when previously never given it consideration.
Saddles fit horses differently, requiring different cinching. High-withers, thinner horses don’t need to be pulled like a fat, round-backed mount. It’s generally always difficult to keep a saddle in position on that kind.
Now, adding to the predicament for us, we are clumsy and have poor balance. Instead of staying in the center of the horse all of the time, we often exaggerate and lean too far one way or the other, and a loose saddle moves with us.
Over concern has created problems, too, as a couple of years ago, we pulled the mare twice before going into a reining class, and it was so tight, she fell over when we ran in and pulled her to a stop.
Yet, no matter how old one is, how many horses mounted, or experiences encountered, we are still dumb and forgetful. Having ridden Maggie in a dozen classes, we finished the trail competition, got off, and stepped right on Missy saddled at the trailer ready for pole bending.
Our name was called first to ride, and we went straight into the arena concentrating on the 25 seconds ahead. As we started to run the pattern, our saddle slipped forward, then sideward such that we slowed to a trot, and worked to stay in the middle of her back.
A couple tries to pick up speed put us in jeopardy, so we decided to trot the course in twice the time, and take the booby prize instead of the ground. Now, we’re back to continuously checking that we have our saddle tight enough.
Reminds us of Proverbs 5:1: “Be attentive to wisdom learned by actual and costly experience.” Then, Acts 12:8: “Tighten your girth and become bound to greater powers.”