Monday, February 25, 2013

Tally - Thick Skulls

It took a couple of days to get a hold of my client, Tim. Right when I became officially nervous and was in the middle of leaving yet another message telling him just that, he finally picked up.

"Hi Janet," he said. He sounded tired.

"Jeez, Tim, are you OK?"

"Yeah, I cracked a few ribs and have a concussion, but I'm better."

"What happened? Nobody at the barn saw anything, they just tell me your saddle slipped."

"It did."

"Were you on her?"

"Just about, I was swinging my leg over when she jumped and I came off into the fence. The saddle rolled under her belly and she started bucking. Janet, it was terrible, she must have bucked for twenty minutes before the saddle finally came off."

"Wait, I'm confused. Walk me through this."

I wasn't actually confused, I was pissed, but I didn't know where to start  or who exactly I needed to be angry with. It sure wasn't going to be Tally. We were still following some pretty stringent guide lines with her. Tim wasn't supposed to ride alone, or at least without telling somebody he was heading out. I was sure Tally hadn't bucked for twenty minutes, in the messed up time warp of a newly concussed rider, minutes could become hours or seconds. Still, why hadn't anybody seen this? The arena was easily visible from the main barn. Tim was always supposed to mount and dismount in the middle of the arena, where there was plenty of clear landing space in case of an incident. This wasn't a suggestion, it was an iron clad rule. The middle of the arena was where I always began and ended my rides, especially on young, nervous or bolty horses. Tally was all of those things and more, so how had he ended up smashed into a fence?

For the most part, I try hard to not whack somebody when they're down. Tim was hurt and shaken up and didn't need me laying blame. At one point in my life I decided to eliminate any sentence beginning with "You should..." Personally, my back gets up the second I hear that one, and I figured other people felt about the same. Those two words imply so many negative things, the biggest being the person saying them is assuming he or she can know what's best for another person. Life has taught me I don't now what's best for anybody. I can only offer my own experience and how it shaped me, other than that it's best to shut the hella up.

So I did just that and waited for Tim to tell his story.

"I took Tally down to the arena," Tim said, "when I got on the saddle slipped."

"Did you try to step off?"

"I had my foot too far in the stirrup, so I leaned over the saddle to try to shift it back in place. The whole thing started to slide the other way and Tally bolted. When she got to the fence my head was almost hitting the ground, my legs were in the air and I couldn't get kicked loose from my stirrups."

From the quiver in his voice I knew he was till freaked , and I couldn't blame him. The image of the saddle slipping under Tally with Tim clinging to it was making me queasy.

"I guess I was lucky," he said, "Tally spun away from the fence and that made me finally came off. I hit the fence with my head and ended up with a doozy of a concussion."

"Jeez Tim, I am so sorry. You get this wasn't Tally's fault, right?"

"Yeah, I understand. I don't get why my saddle keeps slipping."

"Wait a minute, 'keeps slipping?'"

Now we were getting somewhere. Part of getting Tim ready to have a horse of his own had been for him to saddle as many horses he could find until he had a handle on how tight he needed a cinch, where a saddle should fit, how it should fit and so on. His stable ran lessons on horses of all shapes and sizes and he was a shy, friendly guy in a barn filled with women and kids, so he had lots of opportunity to practice.

Tally was a mutton withered, round backed little horse, with so much muscle she could lift, not only her saddle, but a rider too, a good couple inches off her back when she stepped under herself. A roll back was an awesome experience on her. She was a bitch to keep a saddle on.

It wasn't impossible though, with a 1" neoprene backed pad and a good wool cinch, it was possible to keep a saddle in place on her all day without mishap. A secure breast collar and snug back cinch kept everything in place.I had carefully explained why and how she needed to be saddled, warned Tim up one side and down the other of the dire consequences from not checking and rechecking his saddle and watched him saddle and re-saddle her hundreds of times. Okay, maybe just a hundred, but still...had this really happened more than once?

"Well, I didn't want to tell you, but this is the second time it happened."

"You've rolled the saddle on her twice?"


"Since you've brought her there?"

"Just the day I got hurt and the day before."

"So you rolled the saddle two days in a row?"


Right here is when a riding instructor and or trainer finds herself  at a crossroads. With a new client you really need to keep your mind clear and calm, even though every fiber in your being wants to go off on a crazy tirade. If you let 'er rip, well, the client will either become scared or mad, his brain will shut off and either he'll become too nervous to work things through, or get pissed and start laying blame. Ignorance is forgivable and trainable, and anger on the trainers part will turn it all to stupid.

Don't get me wrong, I am very much to the point with my long term clients and students, just ask Kathy. With Tim however, I really needed to get to the bottom of this, and letting him know how I was feeling wasn't going to get me anywhere.

"Did you tighten your cinch in stages?" I asked.

"Of course I did," Tim answered, with just the right touch of indignation. I was on the scent and the trail was warming up.

"When you mounted, was there any slide in the saddle?"

"Well, yeah, more than I planned on."

"Did you have just the toe of your boot in the stirrup so you could step back off?"

"Well, no, I thought I was just pulling on her too hard and if I got on her correctly it wouldn't shift, so I was making sure my foot was solid in the stirrup so I would have a solid step-off."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where did this information come from?"

I didn't recognize the lingo and those words had never come out of my mouth.

"From that book you gave me to read."

When I had a new, adult rider, I always gave them three books to read, Ray Hunt's, Think Harmony with Horses, Bill Dorrance's, True Horsemanship Through Feel and Sally Swift's Centered Riding. There was more reading later on in the game, but those were the cornerstones of what we were going to build.

It tuned out, my beloved Sally was the culprit. Tim explained he had read he needed to slip two fingers between the horse and the girth for a proper fit. How he came up with the rest of it, I'll never know.

"Did you realize that was pretty different than how I had taught you to saddle Tally?" My voice was calm, but I could feel the heat rising off my face. He couldn't see me, which was probably a good thing.

"Yeah, I did notice that," now he was getting defensive.

"If you had called I would have explained things to you."

"I didn't want to bother you," he replied. "I did ask Bonnie though.She told me to do what the book said."

I couldn't help it, I sighed so loud he heard me. Bonnie  ran the riding program at his barn and was the wife of the barn owner. Sweet and hardworking, she was one of those funny combinations you run into in the horse world, half filled with wisdom and half filled with ignorant crap. I had watched her successfully repair a mama goat's torn udder with staples, but she didn't like the students to ever do more than a trot, because it wasn't "safe."

Her daughters were barrel racers and the stars of the barn. The eldest like to keep her horse jigging by poking him in a continuous rhythm with her spurs and holding him tight between the reins of her mechanical hackamore, because it made the patient, gentle soul seem hot.The youngest kept buying different horses because she was afraid of them all, but it was never her, they were, "mean and stupid." All of them had a great seat and could spot a colic coming on hours before it was visible. They were an interesting group, but not one I would send Tim to for input on Tally.

"So after the first time the saddle rolled, did you think to go back to what I had shown you?"

"I was afraid the tight cinch was hurting her."

Now, I knew Sally hadn't told him this either, but I let it lie, besides I was on the hunt. "Has Tally ever been sore-backed or rubbed raw?"


"How is she now?"

"Her legs are pretty banged up and she won't let me saddle her. She freaks if she even sees the pad coming. I've been soaking her knee for twenty minutes every day."

"Her knee?"

"It's swollen."

I breathed deep. "Why don't we meet tomorrow and I'll get her saddled, then we can look at her legs."

"Bonnie told me to stay off her at least a month."

"All righty then. How about this. Do me a favor and think our conversation though, from front to back, then give me a call when you are ready to get going again."

I set the phone down as quiet as I could, released my gasping, snorting, inner Buddha and let myself briefly enjoy the image of him talking into the phone -- at least for a couple of minutes-- before he realized I was gone.


redhorse said...

Oh lord, that poor horse.

gtyyup said...

Geez...of all things...why can't people take instructions? Just rolling my eyes. And the horse gets the brunt end of the deal. Nice writing Mugs.

whisper_the_wind said...

I'm in the truck with faster

Cindy D. said...

I hate to say this but I am kind of torn. I can relate to Tim's position of being inexperienced, getting conflicting information and being confused on what the right answer is. Mostly because I'm going through this myself right now. So I understand how he felt. Luckily I haven't had any big disasters like his...yet. (trying to be smart enough not too)

On the other hand, had I been in his shoes and known that the person who knew my horse the best was just a phone call away with sound advice, I'd have made that call the first time for some clarification.

I sure feel bad for Tally though, poor girl. I sure am hoping there is more to this story.

Anonymous said...

As someone who gave clear instructions to a new horse owner to NEVER ride the horse alone, I feel your ire.

New owner rode alone. Horse bucked her off. Daddy came out and SHOT THE HORSE.

Rachel said...

First: Yaaaayyy another Tally story!!

Ok now that's off my chest. The barn owner you mention in that story is eerily similar to my last barn owner - generally knew what she was doing but sometimes all you could do was shake your head. Seeing her advise new riders usually made me just cringe.

Tim is lucky all he got was a concussion. Hope this story continues soon...

Anonymous said...

Please tell me this story doesn't end like Cupcake!!!!

Anonymous said...

I do have some sympathy with Tim because it was in a book that you gave him (or he thinks it was? Bit confused there) and he took it as gospel, but I admire you for keeping your cool when so much of your patient work with Tally was undone in seconds (hopefully not for good though).
Incidentally, my son rides a pony who is a little barrel and we've had terrible problems with saddle slippage, especially as my son is disabled and cannot always correct the movement once it has started. It didn't matter how tight the girth was or what pads etc we used the saddle would roll off her. We've now solved the problem completely with the simple addition of a crupper. I don't suppose that's an option with a western saddle which is a shame!

mugwump said...

We were actually thinking about a crupper..we just worked our way around it before it happened.

Anonymous said...

Ah well, might be worth a try then. I wasn't sure because I don't know anything at all about western tack, although I'd love to try it. Nearest I've managed so far is a sneaky sit on a saddle in a tack shop when no one was looking!

dehda01 said...

Gosh, I love a Tally story! Thank you!

On a side note, my mare is built the same way, an I feel that I have to cinch her tighter than my other horses to control it. A felt pad and mohair cinch has helped. Are neoprene saddle pads worth trying for her? I hear about overheating and scalding with the neoprene saddle pads.

mugwump said...

I have never scalded one, but they do get hot. I prefer felt or wool pads, but that neoprene does stick!
Any endurance people have experience with neoprene?

shadowlake2005 said...

Poor Tally. I didn't think this wreck you've been torturing us with could be her fault! Thank god horses are so forgiving. Mugs, I am once again in awe at the depth of your understanding of horses and humans. Wish you lived near me!

MichelleL said...

Wow! Your writing made me feel like I was there and I am really, REALLY glad that I wasn't!!

Looking forward to more learning and hoping that Tally and Tim became the working team that I want them to be.

AareneX said...

Neoprene: hot skin can be a problem, but not for all horses. If the horse tolerates a neoprene girth, try a neoprene MESH pad for a short ride and gradually lengthen the time until you know that the horse is okay. ALSO might be good for winter-furred horse but not as good for summer-slick hair coat. A horse who galls easily from anything else will hate neoprene, but I've used a neoprene mesh successfully with several endurance horses.

With my "pickle-barrel" shaped horse (no withers at all, shaped like a propane tank, but an angel with beginners) a crupper AND breast collar kept things upright...well, that, and a balanced rider. If you weren't a balanced rider to start, riding the pickle barrel would teach it.

mugwump said...

Thank you AareneX!

smazourek said...

Some people just have to learn the hard way, too bad it was on a sensitive mare like Tally. I hope she wasn't ruined.

I'm very impressed by how you handled that phone call, I can only imagine the steam that must have been pouring out of your ears...

Snipe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LadyFarrier said...

Aaargh! Aaargh! Aaargh!

I have met every single character you describe in this story. Well, you know what I mean.

Maybe I'm getting old, but I just don't have the patience anymore! Time has worn my shiny nice veneer away. And that, my dears, is why I just plain don't work for people like that anymore. I just didn't think that I could stop myself from screaming "You did WHAT?? What is WRONG with your EARS?!? What did I JUST tell you??" And that's no way to be :) You're right, it doesn't get you anywhere and it certainly doesn't offer any help to the person who needs it.

I've learned to just keep myself in situations where I can be kind ;)

And, I can't wait for the next installment!

Snipe said...

I agree with LadyFarrier. I have very little sympathy for Tim, especially when he came back with "Bonnie said". I'm impressed with your restraint, Mugs. I don't know if I would have done as you did.

Can't wait to hear the next installment.

Whywudyabreedit said...

Trying not to say, "you should" is a solid goal. I have been working on my shut up and listen skills for quite some time. It can certainly be a challenge, like the other day when I walked out to talk to the guy who walks out of the forest each morning with his two young yaks. Both yaks are pretty young, maybe 500-600 lbs max. The guy told me that he rides the male just a little bit, but only down hill. I proceeded to keep my comments about developing knees to myself, he was only talking to me because I approached him, not because he wanted my advise or opinion...

Looking forward to hearing how this ends. I have had some experiences where my emphasis goes unremembered over time, always a bummer...

I hope this turns out well.

foffmom said...

Unfortunately, when you are a newbie talking to someone with more equine experience, and they are idiots, there is no warning light on their forehead to tell you!! You and your horse get stuck sorting out the idiots from experts the hard way.
And there are a great many idiots, all of whom LOVE to give advice. Interestingly enough, the real experts are more cautious about opening their mouths. Poor Tally and Tim! (Helmet. There. Sorry.)

greenie said...

I was sure after the last Tally chapter that one of them had been badly hurt or killed. So I'm breathing a sigh of relief...

My saddle went under my horse when she took a bit of a miss step off the side of the road and into the ditch. I was still clinging to the saddle being too stubborn to let go... So she stopped... Looked back at me and like "really?" I said "fine" and dropped to my back. I ended up walking her home with it entirely under her belly, tying her up and going into the house looking for help because I couldn't get her saddle off... I swear she thought the whole thing was hilarious. She had this silly sort of "ha ha no work for me today" look on her face the whole time... She ate grass while we tried to get her gear off.

Reading this story I realize how lucky I was/am...

DeeDee said...

Oh wow! I am so sad Tim ran into problems. As a new rider I know the 'need' to ask for advice. Poor substitute for asking my own trainer. My heart went out to Tally and to Tim and to You.

I am out in the Southern Sierras hwlping out on a ranch for about 3 weeks. Helps to have consistent advice from the ranch manager - a way too friendly (and able) preon for a tough job. Glad for her help with the horses here.

KD said...

I switched to a neoprene girth and 1" hospital type synthetic felt many years ago. I don't have to jack the girth up so tight and everything stays put. I do also use a breast plate/collar. Bought a nice alpaca hair girth recently, didn't care for it, and passed it on.

As always, impressed with your ability to put us right there in the conversation with you. Keep it comin'!

Lana said...

Lord help us. Years ago I sold a horse as a trail horse. ONLY. I also said, feed him whole oats only, no sweet feed, no alfalfa, just oats, grass hay, and water. (He could stay fat on air.) He had also been turned out for a while so I also said please ride him for short periods of time until he builds his wind back up. They called a couple of weeks later saying they had trouble and would I come help. First thing I checked was the feed. Yep, you guessed it 14% sweet feed, alfafa cubes, and all the alfafa hay he would eat. I got on and he was a raging idiot. I got off after about 5 minutes, pulled the saddle off, checked his back and he of course gave to the slightest pressure. Sore. How long have you been riding him? Oh, we rode him about two hours yesterday on a trail ride. I then looked at the thin pad and cheap ill made yack leather saddle and shook my head. After making a few suggestions and seeing how they were not going to listen I loaded up my saddle, wished them luck, and drove the hour and a half back home. I gave two simple instructions. Some people cannot listen. Kudos to you for being so patient and kind. Things like this are why I do not give lessons or offer to help people any more.

Anonymous said...

EkJ b yfYV VnL p bzSS [url=]mcm 財布[/url] UsF x mxOM RtK m wkJT [url=]mcm[/url] FtV ehMP x mxOR AcK dpVU h mqQR [url=]セリーヌ ラゲージ[/url] FzJ e ykUD IwV q gvZI [url=]セリーヌ バッグ[/url] IpK z rqYI PbS k quAT [url=]セリーヌ ラゲージ[/url] PvX llPX h llPA ZaQ usJV v cgWS [url=]セリーヌ ラゲージ[/url] CqC tgWL i mwFU NiH soFI n odVC [url=]セリーヌ アウトレット[/url] YqC mjPZ f oeLR LoF bhHJ m wwRZ [url=]chloe 財布[/url]

Anonymous said...

OyV vhLS r flPU AbK amQU r erTM [url=]クロエ 財布[/url JuP q pxNV UsK y mdRG [url=]クロエ 財布[/url] WwV vdHZ i bnVN CmM eiLB c dtXG [url=]セリーヌ ラゲージ[/url] WyR l prBK KyY x npPU [url=]セリーヌ バッグ[/url] QxJ h mpUT LiJ s lsIV [url=]セリーヌ アウトレット[/url] XnQ tpTZ n sjZX MrE zvXO y abYK [url=]セリーヌ バッグ[/url] NyP mdSP v tlOC TlF ofZZ c jmLZ [url=]セリーヌ 財布[/url] RrM iwFO n auUH YvR zlEN m akDE [url=]クロエ バッグ[/url]

Anonymous said...

Kq AmY GsJ tgYL k Uzv GAns Fvl Zjk JdeNu [url=]グッチ 財布 レディース[/url] Ps KyO GjR tnYI g DibJx Uux Blg Qli EihCz [url=]シーバイクロエ 財布[/url] Im FzV CxJ ubFW s Xfx ELpc Agy Xbv MdwVz [url=]Oakley アウトレット[/url] In WtW TtD xxMY x ZgsSr Adg Ynj Fbj AqtSf [url=]クロエ バッグ[/url] Qe RwX GbK ueGB z YnsHe Nse Wtx Wdr IctSh [url=]グッチ 長財布 ラウンドファスナー[/url] Td XbL BtU igBZ s SzvGz Ozz Xlr Feo EoaDq [url=]オークリージャパン[/url] Ra PwB OyI tkOH t XfhYc Szu Eyn Loh QzcBe [url=]クロエ バッグ 新作[/url] Qp WrW PvQ eiKX q IwjWa Jcy Mfi Trz EurMu [url=]グッチ キーケース[/url]

Anonymous said...

HlQ afBG r daIR baQQ n ioJB yiUL [url=]グッチ 財布[/url] DtH cjAI l qyRZ cqCA k thHT maHS [url=]GUCCI バック[/url] FyY rjTI e meUY aeMU p tyML bvCB [url=]コーチ 店舗[/url] LgC cdWR i kfGS bhML j oqSD trSR [url=]GUCCI バック[/url] AyJ vkSO t peUC cuWV e rsLY lbWZ [url=]GUCCI 財布[/url] YqA ijYR f paAP oqUE v ihYR keIN [url=]コーチ アウトレット[/url] GjH tiLN y taBV fdWC k fnMI auNJ [url=]コーチ 財布[/url] FdI bmYK u fyHB uuJG x viUK krUZ [url=]グッチ バック[/url]

Anonymous said...

OaF emFK z ldLL daBL n gcTW zhDU [url=]コーチ バッグ[/url] LeI mqUK b rsRO czCR y ciWO tdHK [url=]GUCCI 財布[/url] WnM hmTC z rdSQ jmQU f vdJZ fmRH [url=]コーチ 財布[/url] WpS znTE x ppOZ voLT l axUT pmIW [url=]グッチ バック[/url] NfO vdRG y aqAL xbFJ n bqFD lbMQ [url=]グッチ バック[/url] XoV cqPV u ecJG jjBP m sdSU cpNC [url=]GUCCI 財布[/url] UnC glQA p oaMW ukYX y nfFB hqJV [url=]GUCCI 財布[/url] NkS kjQW q meJJ azXS i kyEB miYC [url=]コーチ バッグ[/url]

Anonymous said...

SzR chQI d avSK NiV dbIP t rjNP [url=]chloe 新作[/url QjD q rrFL AgX u xrHM [url=]クロエ 財布[/url] TyH vjYA i yeNK UqD ubAK i jnWL [url=]セリーヌ 財布[/url] YcC a jlYG YaT d tfJD [url=]セリーヌ 財布[/url] HbH d jyAE ImS k qyUC [url=]セリーヌ アウトレット[/url] IwW lmDI v wkXI RcN atHF t klVS [url=]セリーヌ ラゲージ[/url] NnD szFU z xzGS JgU xdYV x goDH [url=]セリーヌ 財布[/url] OvL qtWX o sjNN BpR fmSQ z kwGG [url=]chloe バッグ[/url]

Anonymous said...

Tyya's dad won't permit anything tolerable at the collect - no ice cream, no sweets, no cookies. But when the saleslady puts a valuation sticker on Tyya's nose, Daddy is conclusively feigned to suborn something good

Follow by Email


This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.