On Saturday afternoon, Rick and I were headed to a memorial service in Portland when our neighbor called to say that there was a lot of commotion in our barn and a horse was out and crashing through the woods. We turned around and headed for home, afraid of what we'd find. Before we could get there, our neighbor called back and said the escapee was Lance. She had caught him and put him back in his stall, and said he appeared to be okay. I asked if she could tell how he'd gotten out, and she said it looked like his stall door hadn't been properly latched. Oh dear....
We continued homeward to check things over ourselves; sure enough, Lance didn't have a scratch on him. Our afternoon plans completely altered, we decided to go for a walk. When we got home again, there was Lance, grazing outside the barn. What in the world? We knew we'd latched his stall door after checking on him. Hmmm; maybe Rick had latched it that morning after all!
We had to put a clip on the latch to Sammy's stall because Lance demonstrated his ability to open it. But the latch to his own door is much more difficult to move; us humans have trouble with it, and we have opposable thumbs! But there was no other explanation; Lance had to have opened it. Then Rick recalled that Lance's breeder had told him that Lance would let himself out of his stall, and then go down the barn aisle letting other horses out of their stalls, too – the rascal! So Lance got a clip on his latch as well.
This is how the latches look after Lance has been in his stall any length of time. I think we might have to start using padlocks....
We are still parsing out the saddle fit issue, but now have a theory to work from that is making sense. Lance gets a lump directly under the location of the saddle tree's twist (as did Russell, nine years ago, with a different saddle). Most saddles have A-shaped (vs. u-shaped) trees, which makes the twist more likely to "bite" a horse's back. (By the way, the stirrup leathers attach at about that same point on treeless saddles and can cause the same problem.) Russell's problem went away when I got my Black Country saddle, but the Black Country bites Lance.
Out of a desperation to ride without hurting my horse, Sunday I decided to try my ancient, battered Wintec. I rode Lance down the lane and back; he was very forward, and kept offering trot. (He was also whinnying for his buddies – pasture turn-out every afternoon is bonding the "herd" – so I attributed his energy to that.) When we returned home I took Lance to the arena for a little canter work. He picked up his right lead – which has been an increasing struggle – correctly at first cue from the walk. When I untacked him, there was no bump. Coincidence? I don't think so! The Wintec isn't a long-term solution, but at least I can keep riding until we find a solution.
I wanted to ride again today, but ran out of time. This evening I finally turned the horses out for their daily allotment of fresh grass. They were full of energy and I enjoyed watching them frolic, then stepped to the side so I could film them without shooting directly into the afternoon sun. By then everyone was more interested in eating
– until Lance spotted me.
That's my boy. :-)