Monday, November 17, 2008

Full seat breeches work!

Last week I ordered a couple pairs of new riding breeches.

My old ones (one green and one black) were nearly as old as Limerick, and stretched out seven ways to Sunday. The seat of the black ones was tissue-thin and I had to wear black underwear every time I wore them. Each time I mounted up, I wondered if today was the day the seam split, displaying my undies for the world (okay, one, possibly two, other boarders, and Limerick) to see.

I ordered three pairs of breeches. Two are Harry Hall full seats and one is a pair of basic black TuffRider pull-ons. Since I only buy clothing items when they are on incredible sale, the total price came to $119 for all three. Not bad considering one full-priced pair of Harry Hall breeches can be a little over $100.

Full seat breeches have some sort of clingy material, like suede or...whatever...covering the entire seat and inner legs. Basically any part of you that touches the saddle is covered with this material. This supposedly creates a nice, secure seat.

I had to put them to the test last Wednesday. At the end of the night I crossed my stirrups over Lim's withers and rode stirrup-free. The walk--as always, easy! The trot--smooth as butter! And the canter...

Before I go on, I need to tell you that Limerick has begun an interesting habit since August. If I ask for the canter and she starts on the wrong lead, she will not let me bring her down to a trot to try again. Oh no, she will insist that she can correct it herself, and will do a neat little flying lead change right there on the rail.

When Lim was young and green, I taught her to get her flying lead changes (for the non-horsey people, an explanation: When horses canter or gallop, one foreleg "leads" slightly ahead of the other. A flying lead change is when the horse switches from one leading foreleg to the other without missing a stride. It is an important skill for jumpers and dressage horses. Horses can do flying lead changes galloping out in the pasture, but they usually need to be taught to do these on cue with a rider on their back). After I taught Lim to get her lead changes, she would do them if I asked her to but it was a rare day when she did them on her own.

But Lim did have fun doing the lead changes, so despite the fact we were retired from jumping, I would ask for them now and then just for the heck of it. When arthritis began to creep into her joints, I stopped asking because they were too hard on her.

So now you can see why I am surprised that Lim insists on doing these flying lead changes on her own, on the rail, no less (it is typically difficult for a horse to get them going perfectly straight--a slight curve towards the desired lead helps).

Not only that, but she can be so pleased with herself afterwards that she throws out a little buck or two, or tries to take off with me. Hey, I don't mind--these days, any sign that she feels good brings a big smile to my face!

Back to the present. I am riding in my spanking new full seat breeches, stirrup-less, and about to ask Lim for the canter. She starts off on the wrong lead. I try to pull her back down to a trot but she shakes her head in protest and prepares her hind end for the lead change.

There is no time for words to go through my head. I can only acknowledge the fact that Lim is about to do a flying lead change and that a buck and/or attempt at bolting will follow closely behind. Helpless, I mentally resign myself to the arena dirt!

A lead change, downwards head shake, mini-buck and two big cantering strides forward later, I am still comfortably in the saddle. Whew!

Then I ask for the canter going the other way.

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