John got me new boots for xmas this year!!! Currently, I have Ariat paddock boots and the leather is cracked all the way through on the tops of both feet about where my foot bends to have my heels down. Each boot has two pretty solid cracks that are big enough to let in sand while walking in the arena to get on the horse. They have also been losing support lately and were NOT comfortable at all on the endurance ride. So, John has been urging me to find boots I liked. I think he thought it would be a quick, easy process. Well first I thought about western boots. They seem easy to get on, have a rounded toe (looks comfortable), and come in pretty colors. Then I thought about getting trail riding tennis shoes until I snapped back to reality and remembered how goofy they look. Next, I considered staying with the trusty Ariat paddock zip up boots and maybe a pair of half chaps. That seemed like a good idea for a while- until I let my needy little inner child out and she starting screaming for tall boots. You see, I never had tall boots when I was a kid. Well, maybe a pair of rubber ones but that doesn't count. In fact, it makes the situation all the more pitiful. For all the years I rode hunt seat equitation and pleasure as a kid, I was the only one in garters. Everyone else had tall boots, but my mom wasn't about to spend a few hundred bucks on custom boots for an ever growing and hard to fit child. So, paddock boots and garters, paddock boots and garters...
As the holiday grew nearer, John really started getting on me to make a decision. He threatened to go to Cabella's and buy me waist high waders if I didn't pick soon! Imagine my surprise (and excitement) when I saw that Equestrian Collections had Ariat tall boots on sale! I am assuming they were last years models, but they have boots almost half off. Seriously.
I love them. LOVE. Is it normal to love boots this much? I bolted out of bed when I head the UPS man arrive, went out in the snow barefoot to get the box, brought it inside and opened it with the awe of a child on christmas morning. After pulling them out of the box, I ran upstairs to get dressed, fix my hair and brush my teeth. THEN I tried them on. And wore them for most of a day before actually taking them out to the barn.
I was surprised how much tall boots changed my riding. First, I had to drop my stirrups a hole. Side note- I now trust Boomer enough to adjust my stirrups while mounted!!! Another difference in my riding was at the canter. I felt more secure. Not sure why or how, but I felt like those boots kind of sat me down further and stabilized. Interesting. On the downside, I felt like Boomer was a littler duller to my legs. I was also wearing small prince of wales spurs and had a hard time connecting with him. By the end of the ride he was starting to listen better, but he was a little numb at first.
Interesting tip from Jane Savoie: if your horse is feeling dead to your legs and isn't responding to your squeezing to move forward, try removing your legs, moving them back a few inches, and re applying them to the horses sides. You might be surprised at how quickly they jump to attention! I found that alternating bumping at the girth and behind the girth a few times back and forth helped move him forward within a gait.
I took another video of us riding again today and worked on really getting him to move out within the trot. We also worked on a lot of walk-canter transitions. Honestly, I can't bring myself to sit through another few hours of editing, so that video will have to wait to be posted! The trot work was good, his head started coming down more. I have been really encouraging him to push from behind while keeping light contact. Today I started playing with his mouth a little, just small vibrations on the inside rein and he responded be lowering and softening his neck for a few strides. I think that will be interesting to work with a little. The canter transitions were much improved! h e majority of our transitions today were within 2-3 strides, some less! That is a huge improvement from Monday when most of them took a quarter of a circle! I really focused on keeping my body back and my hands down when asking for the canter as those were two things I noticed in the video.
Boomer! Put your ears up!
Hey! The other ear!