I rode in my hunt saddle (Crosby Prix Des Nations) today for the first time in months! It was simultaneously familiar and foreign. I have had my hunt saddle since I was about 11 or 12, so I haven't really ridden in vary many different styles of saddles and didn't really realize how much of a difference they could make in body position. The western saddle gives me a great deep seat, putting me back on my pockets and giving me a nice long leg that falls from the hip. However, all of the leather between me and the horse is noticeable, especially the stirrup fenders. I really only had the option of cuing with my spur as my calf didn't really have much impact. The hunt saddle, on the other hand, really pitches me forward into a traditional 'hunt seat'. My legs are inclined to be further forward, with less drop. Even when I sit deep, I am still sitting further forward in the saddle than is ideal. This probably has something to do with the fact that I have grown somewhat since I was 12. The upside to this saddle is that I can really use almost every part of my legs (except for the upper thigh which feels slightly hindered due to the forward body position). Also, it is so much lighter and makes tacking up so easy! It is so light that I can hold it on one arm and put the cooler on the horse with the other hand. Also, I can do that because I am awesome and an expert multi-tasker.
The ride itself was very good. It took me a little while (ahem, the whole hour) to get used to the english saddle again. But we continued working on the same stuff, relaxation, circles, bends, trotting, cantering, etc. His trotting was a little slow and unexciting today, so we pushed a little and I got some quality strides from him. We did more leg yields at the walk and those are getting much straighter. Another HUGE improvement was in the outside rein connection on the circle. I was really trying to get a good inside bend while pushing with my inside leg to keep the circle from falling in and I felt an amazing connection on the outside rein while his hips were tracking around at the same time. Hmmm... How to better describe that... It felt like he was bending with good connection in the front end, keeping up the shape of the circle, and his hind end was really working to push under and almost 'out' in order to keep the circle from collapsing. It was very awesome! Too bad I never have anyone to witness my rides! We did only a little canter work because I wasn't feeling super secure in the english saddle, but I got great, controlled, slower work in both directions right off the bat with no rushing, running, pulling, or other nonsense!
It looks like another big storm is headed our way this week, so tomorrow might be the last chance I get to ride for a few days, depending on driving conditions!
Happy holidays to everyone!!!