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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Saturday, January 24, 2009

She's not emaciated, come on!

Everyone is going to drive me nuts talking about how skinny my horse is. SHE IS NOT TOO SKINNY! There is NOTHING about her that says "skinny" to me right now. Hell, I won't even give her "thin." I'd say she's a 5.5 approaching a 6 on the BCS scale, and I DON'T want her fatter than that!

PEOPLE. FAT HORSES ARE NOT HEALTHY HORSES. Why do so many people equate a wobbling tub of lard on four legs to an athlete? A big, fat horse is going to have a hard time dragging its big, fat self across the diagonal doing tempi changes, and at the end of them it might very well break and be crippled from carrying all that extra weight around.

Yesterday, Gogo was clipped and had a bath (because it was *almost* warm enough to do that... and I'm cruel), and today I took a few conformation pics of her. Now tell me, dear readers, is this an emaciated, starving animal or is this a perfectly healthy, musclar athlete?

Yeah. That's what I thought.
By the way, do I do a DAMN good clip job or what? I made hundreds of dollars last year clipping horses... and then my clippers exploded and I haven't been able to fix them. I used a borrowed pair this time. And just look at how fuzzy her ears are, I love it!

Well at least yesterday Gogo was wonderful under saddle. Vicki had attempted to see what would happen if we raised her bit a hole on her bridle, and Gogo seemed to just be holding all her tension in her mouth for the first half-hour or so of the lesson. I asked Vicki to lower it a hole, and instantly I had a soft, supple, and relaxed horse. Weird how it works that way. We worked on a few nice shoulder-ins, some steeper leg yields, transitions, some canterwork, and near the end, lengthenings. Her lengthenings are getting HUGE.. so huge in fact that Vicki has taken to calling them mediums instead of lengthenings. She also went so far as to call my trot immediately following my lengthenings collected. YAY COLLECTION. The transitions between the two are becoming crisper and more defined, and the trot following the mediums ALWAYS is improved from whatever it was before. We tried something to, a whisper of shoulder-fore going into the mediums, maintaining it through the mediums, and maintaining it through the downward transition, and it really helped, both ways. Vicki said that was the most up she'd seen her in her shoulders to date. Yes!
The interesting thing about Gogo's lengthenings is that when they are done at the right time, meaning when she is totally relaxed, they ALWAYS refresh her and improve her trot and canter, and everything about her becomes freer and fresher. When done at the WRONG time (when she has tension), it causes her to invert, rush, and blow past my half-halts, creating more tension and the desire to rush. So I have to be careful... or else everything falls apart. Just one more reminder that especially with Gogo, everything fails without relaxation.

Today the saddle fitter came, and she took a look at my Prestige. I have a Prestige 2000d which I bought when I first got Gogo. I was lucky enough to find a used one at Rick's Heritage Saddlery (BEST TACK STORE EVER for used saddles, they have HUNDREDS!)for only $900, and it was in AMAZING condition. I was also lucky enough to be living close enough to Rick's to be able to do that! It fit her amazingly when I first got her, mostly because she was morbidly obese, and it still fits well now but not *quite* as. Colleen (the fitter) checked it all out and said it was a hair wide, but that because I use a Supracor pad with it that it shouldn't be a problem. Vicki had originally wanted me to have the saddle looked at because the back of it seemed to be bouncing a little, but Colleen told me some very interesting things about Italian saddles versus German and English made saddles. Prestiges are designed by a man who sees the back of a horse like a clotheline with two pillars of support at each end - if you put something in the middle of the clothesline, it sags, but if you put it closer to a pillar of support, it holds it up much better. Therefore, Prestiges are designed to have more weight distribution over the front end of the saddle. German and English saddles are designed to have even weight distribution throughout the entire panel. She told me that we don't actually know which is the more correct fit, and that every horse is so different anyway that it's more imporant to focus on individual fit as opposed to sticking to a certain school of thought. The back panels of Prestiges are also rounded as opposed to gusseted, which does cause for a little rocking and rolling sometimes - a fact which apparently is not cause for concern. It doesn't seem to bother Gogo any, so there you are I guess. She also found a knot of wool in one of the panels that she went in and pulled out, and found that my used saddle had been reflocked no less than three times, with three different kinds of wool - a huge no-no in the saddle fitting world! My panels thankfully are all still flat and smooth, so it doesn't seem to be causing any problems, but I will keep my eyes out for further issues. The best part - she refused to be paid. "You're a working student," she told me. "I didn't do enough to get paid!"

I also asked her about jumping saddles, and how I had narrowed my choices down to a County or another Prestige. For those of you who don't know, which I assume is all of you, I was promised a new jumping saddle from my parents for my graduation last May. Guess what... no new saddle yet! I think if I pester my mother a little more she'll remember this gift and maybe I can actually get a jump on this. I currently have an ANCIENT County that outdates me by at LEAST 10 or 15 years, and just doesn't fit Gogo all that well. I got it for $600 when I was 17, and I bought it because it was black and I liked black tack, no joke. Colleen told me that she has yet to see a County model that really works with a horse like Gogo who has higher withers, so that solidifies it - we're going with a Prestige Eventing model, in black of course! Problem is finding a used saddle that fits her, fits me, AND comes in black. Can it be done? Well, I got my $3000 other Prestige for $900, so....

One final thing before bedtime - my USEA year end awards arrived today!

I'm ranked as the 4th place 2008 Adult Beginner Novice Rider and the 4th place 2008 Adult Amateur Beginner Novice rider in the entire nation. That's pretty freaking sweet, especially considering I only got points at four shows and still managed it. The people who were in first and second did like, 15 shows, not even kidding you.
I also have awards from Area 8 which will be on their way in February probably. SO AWESOME.

Tomorrow we have Pony Club kids coming in for a clinic ALLLLLLL DAY... so I won't get to jump until like 5pm. Or I have to do it at 6am... which is just not gonna happen with stalls and turnouts and feeding to do as well, all before 8:00am. Ugh... now I need sleep.


Funder said...

Are you sure you didn't Photoshop that clip job? :P It's amazing!!

Very cool saddle shop link, but I am completely boggled at the choices. I want to get an AP or dressage saddle for Dixie one day, but I have no idea how to begin to find one that fits her. I don't even know how to find a good saddle fitter! I've got so much to learn.

Alighieri said...

Hello, lurker here! I just wanted to mention that I also own a Prestige 2000D dressage saddle but I'd never heard about the Italian vs German and English schools of thought. I'd noticed the light cantle but didn't know the reason for it. Thanks for your exposition!

And coming from another animal science major (equine, of course), I agree that your mare is good condition. I can't judge her body scale without closer inspection, but she looks to be right around where you say she is to me. And you are absolutely right about dressage riders and fat horses.

Alighieri said...

Oh ha, I visited my blog after reading yours and saw your comment! Just wanted to acknowledge. :-) But sadly, a trip to the AECs is definitely not in the cards this year, I think doing the LF is more important and I can only afford long trip in the fall due to school. :-( Maybe the year after!

dp said...

I keep my dogs lean because I believe that's the healthiest thing for them. The canine skeleton was not designed to carry around a lot of extra weight (nor the human one, sadly). I have never been to a vet who hasn't commented on how "skinny" my dogs are, even though they are in exactly the condition those posters they have on their walls recommend. The notion that fatter=better is pervasive.

Anonymous said...

Look at that friggen clip job! Holy jebus, it's beautiful.

Congrats on the awards, too!

My horse sometimes tends to lean on the slightly underweight side, and she has nooone of his characteristics, as I'm sure you know. She looks great!

I really want to try body clipping, but I'm afraid of botching it. lool.

Anonymous said...

That clip job is quite the piece of art!!!

Seriously, Go Go is YOUR horse, you know what the best weight for her. People need to chill.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add, CONGRATS on your awards!!!

STB Eventer said...

CONGRATS on your awards! That is fantastic!

I think Gogo looks great. Follow your gut instinct because it is right on. :)

And can you come to Maine and clip my horse too? Oh wait, I already did it myself and it looks like a mouse gnawed on her. I am in awe of your talent! LOL! :)

Kristina said...

Congrats and super clip job! I can't clip my own horse, always get someone else to do it. Just clipped my horse for the upcoming indoor show season (February-April) and the reiners at the barn thing I'm crazy!! They also think my horse is was super skinny when he got to the barn. Nope, he was just a gangly four year old warmblood. Now that he's filled out he is lovely but they still claim that he's underweight.

I guess each discipline has it's different ideas about ideal condition. Still, fat horses can't compete as easily that's for sure.

Andrea said...

Thanks for all the compliments on the clip job XD I actually really like clipping horses... minus getting all the itchy hair on me.

And THANK YOU for agreeing with me that she does NOT need extra fatness! Extra muscle is ALWAYS welcome, but extra fat? Nay my friends.

Mary said...

Very cool blog...I've been putting together my website for my natural barefoot trimming services and came across your blog and I must say... WOW, I am so impressed at you and your mare. She is quite the athletic barefoot horse. Would be be ok to put a photo of you/her on my site as an example? I can be found at

Andrea said...

Hi Mary,
Sure! Just let me know which ones you want to use!