1st Edition: Mental Expectations & Saddle Fit
Staying in mental and physical shape throughout the winter months can be quite the challenge. It gets easy to let excuses and laziness creep in and the state of the weather outside determine your mood and productivity. Don’t let that happen this winter! Champions are made in the winter! Keeping up withpractice sessions, feeding routines and personal growth during the winter months set you up for success when the rodeo season rolls into full swing! Set yourself apart. Start the New Year getting yourself mentally and physically fit to win!
A lot of the importance of staying mentally and physically fit depends on the expectations you set for yourself and your horses. If you don’t prepare your horses or yourself, you can’t expect much out of either one. You can ride any saddle, use any rope, use any bit, rope with anybody and just have fun! There is absolutely nothing wrong with that (unless you start entering places – – it can become a very expensive hobby very quickly). It is a very relaxing and stress-free way to rope and have fun with your horses. You will still win some when you get lucky, because that is all that you are relying on is luck. Hence the saying, I would rather be lucky than good any day. But if you are the type of personality that loves a challenge and you can’t stand to just go and lose, then it becomes much more important to
prepare yourself, your horse, and your equipment.
Think of 2018 WPRA Rookie of the Year Jimmie Smith’s expectation of herself starting last year’s rodeo season – – she wrote ROOKIE OF THE YEAR on her mirror. She saw it every day and used it to prepare her mental game and remind her of her WHY.
Why she was working through the winter
Why she was not giving up after the first rodeos that didn’t produce a check
Why she never gave up the hunt for THE horse to take her places
The list could go on and on. So, set the right expectations for yourself – whatever level you are competing. Be realistic but goal-oriented. Be driven yet grounded. Be Fit to Win.
Today, let’s talk about your saddle.
You should be constantly aware of how your saddle is fitting, and be aware of any changes that occur over time. First, make sure it is balanced on your horse’s back. Not running uphill, downhill or kicking up in the back. Make sure that you do all of this with the saddle pads that you like to ride on the horse. I really don’t care if your saddle fits your horse without the pads. That is not the way you ride him. Make sure that the very front edge of the skirts is not digging into the saddle pad, which is ultimately the horse’s shoulder blade.
Also, be aware of any dry spots that pop up. There are good dry spots and bad dry spots. A good dry spot is a little larger than the palm of your hand and mostly, right behind the horse’s shoulder blade. That means that the horse is getting reasonably equal pressure over the whole area of the front bar pad of the tree. That is the best case scenario. Now, what you don’t want is a small dry spot, which means pressure concentrated in a small area or a dry spot that is angry in the center. Either way, you have a saddle that is not fitting properly. Sometimes it can be fixed by changing pads, but most of the time you will have to find another saddle to ride on your horse.
The main thing that you need to find is a saddle that you and your horse like. Horses are like people is some ways. Some horses may like a tight fit, while others may like a loose fit. Pressure has to go somewhere. Figure your weight + the weight of your saddle pads and saddle. That is equal to the amount of pressure that has your horse has to handle. The key is to distribute the weight so that the horse can operate to the best of his ability. That is what the bottom of a good fitting saddle does. The top of the saddle should put you in a position so that you can compete at your highest level, but that is a topic for another time.
What are you doing this winter to make sure you, your horse and your equipment are Fit to Win for
the 2019 rodeo season?