Saddling up the big guy

One of the most asked questions out there, is how we saddle up Lillen and with what. There is no secret that our equipment looks a bit odd, so I thought I’d introduce you to the how’s and why’s.

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One of the biggest concern Internet has for Lillen and saddles, is that they are way too far back. Now, I’ve explained this several times, but I’ll gladly do it again: You cannot look at the placement of the girth when you look at where his saddle has to sit.

Seeing as he is a gigantic horse with anatomically fitting gigantic shoulder blades, the saddle needs to be further back then we’re used to. On a normal horse, the rule of thumb says you should be able to fit three fingers in-between the saddle and the end of the shoulder-blade. Seeing as Lillen is a gigantic horse, you need equal gigantic fingers for that rule (of thumb) to be accurate. For us normal people with normal fingers, the space required is probably a whole hand or more. That means his saddle will be further back for him to move freely.

This naturally leads to his girth hanging further back than the “normal”. A draft is not built to carry a saddle, so you will see this on a lot of drafts – but the girth simply can’t be right behind the front legs, because that would require you to pull the girth straps on the saddle further forward and “force” it in place, which again will lead to the back of the saddle being pushed down on his back, and lead to pain.

Another rule (not of thumb this time) is that the saddle should never rest behind the last rib, because his loin cannot carry weight. And all that is true, but if Lillen’s saddle slips 30cm backwards because we didn’t tighten the girth enough, we would still sit on his ribcage because his back is so long. Thus not damaging his back, nor putting weight on his kidneys. It’ll just look a little weird. Also keep in mind that Lillen carries no more than about 5% of his weight when we ride him, so even though saddle fitting has to be taken serious, a small mistake won’t destroy him.

Now, looking at the saddles we’ve used for Lillen, they often puzzle people a little because they look very different.

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This is the saddle many wonder about. This saddle is a treeless one; it doesn’t have a brand on it and we bought it secondhand, but we assume it’s from Hööks. Probably an older version of this one. It’s pretty ugly and has surely seen better days, but it works pretty much like a bareback pad. Underneath we usually have a Grandeur pad for better weight distribution, or a reindeer pelt (for the same reason).

The fact that it is treeless also gives ut a little ease on where we can put it. No tree means rubbish weight distribution (which we try to compensate for by adding proper pads), so the saddle wont push down on his back on places where we don’t sit. Now, I apologize for my rubbish english (it’s my second language, I know) and ability to explain, but hear me out:

A normal saddle with a tree (dressage, show jumping, western saddles etc.) will take your weight and even it out on the whole surface of the saddle. Meaning that if the saddle is half a meter long, it will evenly distribute your weight on that half a meter of saddle. A treeless saddle doesn’t do this, and although we attempt to alter it into doing so nevertheless, our weight will never fully reach the end of the saddle. So naturally, if the saddle slips and ends up a bit further back than we planned it to, we will most likely not put weight on his kidneys.

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I even edited in this scapula for you to see what I mean – if the saddle is placed any further forward it will stay on top of his shoulder. Now, if you think that limiting shoulder movement is a totally fair thing to do, sure, slam the saddle on and whip your horse forward! Or maybe accept that this also is an issue when it comes to draft saddle fitting. The girth will be further back, but his shoulder will be free to move.

Also his last rib ends roughly by the calf of the rider, so even though they curve a little, the saddle is not further back than the last rib, ensuring the kidneys are not damaged.

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This is my saddle, and this too is fairly treeless. It’s the Startrekk Espaniola by Deuber und Partner, and have an adjustable gullet (only 1 gullet, but you can adjust it with a screwdriver) and adjustable panels underneath. This saddle sits comfortably on both Lillen and Brego (don’t know if that says more about Brego or Lillen to be honest).

The saddle features a leather “tree” which makes it very stable. It looks and feels like a normal saddle, so it’s also used as a normal saddle. Often seen with just a saddle pad underneath, or a reindeer pelt for better weight distribution.

You can see it here too – if we put the saddle further forward, it will crash into his wither and shoulder. The girth still puts pressure on the breastbone (remember that his ribcage is huge) and doesn’t cause him pain. We also have a very loose girth when we ride, so he have no issues with this setup.

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Now, I don’t actually own this one pad anymore, but from time-to-time I post pictures of it, so I thought I’d let you know. This is the Christ Horsedream Iberica Plus, a bareback pad made of sheep skin. It has no tree nor gullet and is soft and squishy all around. I sold this because I didn’t use it a whole lot, but now I regret that so I’m looking for a new one.

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Also we ride a lot like this. Bareback! Simply because there are no good draft tree-saddles that we can actually afford. That is also the reason why saddles are treeless, it is way more difficult to find and fit a “proper” saddle and saddles like we own tend to be more comfortable for him.

If you see a picture/video of the saddle any further back than pictures in this blog post, know that it is because it has slipped and that we most likely have adjusted it seconds after the pic/vid was taken.

And as far as actually putting the saddle up there, we just lift it up like we would on any other horse. If we don’t feel like stretching up on our tippytoes for that, we get a stool. Nothing special to see there 😛

Emma

 

Mini Haul; Arctic Equestian Games

Arctic Equestrian Games – the horse show Norway loves. Whilst it isn’t as hyped up as Oslo Horse Show, it is a far more pleasant place to be. Calmer atmosphere, better surroundings. Also there aren’t as many stores and stands staying there, but I did manage to spend some money! So here’s my mini haul!

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My purchases were mainly aimed towards Diego and our desire of competing a little this summer, and seeing as my previous set of white brush boots were in horrible condition (which ultimately lead to their death in a trash can), I had already decided to see if I could find a good set for both everyday use, photoshoots, training and out competing. I did drool a little on LeMieux’ schooling boots, but it’s fair to say they were far over my budget.

At Horze I found these “Signature Boots”, and after some back and forth I did end up going with them. I got size medium for his front legs and large for his hind, I have yet to try them on but Horze tends to be fairly standard sized.

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From Horze I also got this super cute shirt, with pinstripes on the collar and the cuffs. The shirt itself is mainly mesh fabric so I should be able to ride with it during summer too. Long sleeves in the sun is a great thing, and it also means my pale arms won’t blind the other riders on the arena. Win-win?

This shirt was on sale, whilst I the boots were not.

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From Skoies I found these bell boots in a sales bucket. I have struggled like hell to find a pair of white bell boots in extra-large. Or; they do exist, but only with a lot of fur/fleece on them. And although they might look fluffy and nice, they catch sand that scratches against the skin. Some horses don’t bother, but Diego get blisters, so nah. These from Kingsland were super pretty so surely they ended up home with me too!

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The biggest investment however, was a Weymouth. Now, I’ve tried a lot of different ones on Diego and he hates them all (whoo…). Small tongue ports or no tongue port is a no-go for him, so I thought “what the hell” and decided to find myself a good quality one.

Now, I had originally been thinking about Sprenger. However, they are pricey. So I studied the Weymouths from Sprenger I actually enjoyed the look and feel of, and had a look around for something similar yet a little less painful on the wallet.

On a wall with 25% off I did find this version from Bomber. The shanks are more square than round, but I really enjoyed the mouthpiece on it (and I think this is something good to try out on Diego AND Brego), so I’m looking forward to try it on once I finish sowing my Double Bridle. The tongue port looks a bit rectangular on the pictures but it’s really well-shaped and not too tall, so I hope they both like it. It’s in size 13,5cm which should fit them both.

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Now, I hope you enjoyed these pictures from my mini haul! I just have to share with you this one from this morning:

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I love living where I do. The white “ground” is the roof of our stable, and beneath the clouds you can see parts of Oslo, with the Oslo Fjord between us and them.

If you have any questions about the stuff I got feel free to ask! 🙂

Emma

My man Loretto

Loretto was the first horse I bought for my own money. He was old and thin and a little awkward, but I spent all my money on him and before I knew it, he was mine. We were able to stay together for close to four years. He developed PPID (“Cushings” syndrome), and we managed to keep him healthy and fairly sound for a while. Sadly his eyesight became so poor in the end that we chose to let him go.

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I am not a person who is afraid of death. It is just as natural as the birth of something new, except you trade happiness and excitement for sorrow and grief. Being able to allow Loretto to pass on when he no longer could find joy in his everyday life was an honor. Being able to allow him to pass on before it was “too late”, was also an honor. He left us in November 2015, which seems like ‘yesterday’ to me.

It is always bittersweet to say goodbye, yet I know I’d much rather let them go a week “too early”, than realize I’ve waited for too long.

I was able to plan ahead for some time, and booked a session with Anette Augestad (hestefotograf.com). She is on the top 3 list of my favourite equine photographers and I was honored she could make room for us before his passing. It was late November, and if anyone was wondering; yes, the water was very cold. Loretto being as blind as he was, trusted me completely, and did not ask twice about standing beside me in the water. My dress flew in between his legs, I had my barefoot feet right next to his studded hooves, underneath several feet of freezing dark water, and I felt as safe as ever.

Thank you Anette.

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It might just be me, because I knew him so well, but in this picture you can see very clearly how blind he was. That head tilt and those ears gives it away to me.

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I don’t have red hair anymore and I kinda miss it, yet I don’t at all because blond goes so well with everything else! I barely used any red/orange/wine red/dark red/brown clothing because it didn’t match at all. Now I can use anything and still look tidy. Also my fringe is easier to keep; it doesn’t show as well when it decides to curl up and sideways, and that’s actually a bit nice.

Emma

I am a person

Repeat after me: “I am a person! I am a living individual with my own interests, my own thoughts and my own will!” Now, I’ll have you warned, this blog post is a rant. Nothing more, nothing less. And what may I rant about today, you ask? The fact that people forget that I am a person!

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Now, I am very aware that most of those I’ll be ranting at, might not have a very good life. They might not be very happy with themselves, they may be in a difficult situation. They might even just be bad at putting words on things, and end up sounding like complete shitheads. That’s fine.

But I am wholeheartedly surprised (and disgusted) by how much some people care about the amount of followers they have. And wholeheartedly surprised (and equally disgusted) that they reduce me to the name of my account, often in the same sentence. The “hello, I am a person” in my account is ripped away, and people stay put with “lillentheshire”. Like my account just somehow exists and uploads pictures, long captions, and respond to messages and comments all by itself. Like some weird form for AI that doesn’t have any emotions or free will.

I’ve always been thrown off by the “F4F?” comments I keep receiving. And being the person I am, I always decline in some polite way, with an explanation for why I don’t do F4F. You see; I care more about what I enjoy seeing, than the amount of followers I have. Shocking, right? So if I enjoy your content, I will follow you – easy as that. If I don’t, I will not.

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But the fun (or shall we call it a tragedy?) starts when people respond with threats, just because I choose for myself what I want to see on Instagram. For instance, someone just concluded that I am selfish and that don’t care about Lillen, simply because I wasn’t insulted by her calling him ugly. And she only called him ugly because I said I didn’t want to follow her back. I personally don’t understand why someone would be interested in following an ugly horse in the first place, but surely, her opinion should be fairly respected. She is allowed to think that he is ugly, right?

I even had one lady send me a poorly worded death threat, which I found hilarious. I invited her over for tea and told her when I’m typically home, and that she was free to stop by when she had time to. This is now four months ago, and she still hasn’t shown up. I don’t think that conversation went in the direction she wanted, but surely it is polite to show up when you’re invited home to someone, right?

Other more common threats is that they are going to stop following me. Which I happily advice them to, because if they can’t see me as the person I am, and follow me because THEY want to, I don’t really want them following ME.

What bothers me most, though, isn’t the fact that people enjoy the F4F culture. It is the fact that it reduces me from a person, to the name of my account. Because they are hunting for the “lillentheshire has now started following you”, and care more about that, than me as a person and what I enjoy to look at.

If you’re into this whole F4F-thing; you do you, alright? I know it’s an entire culture on Instagram, and as long as you still see people as humans, I don’t really care. But the amount of people who try to push me to get what they want, is disgustingly grand. If people politely decline, and even bother to send you a message so you know why, just don’t be a shithead back. Alright?

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I am a very picky person. I am on Instagram to see things I like, and that isn’t a whole lot. If your equipment doesn’t fit your horse properly, I will not follow. Because I don’t like seeing that. If you ride in a way that I do not like, I will not follow you, because I find poor treatment of horses disgusting. If your horses look constantly sad og angry, I will not follow you, because I don’t find it interesting. I also find little to no interest in liberty, yoga, vegan diets, clicker training of horses and so on. I might still follow you, because I see the human there and I find the human interesting. Easy like that, right?

And I care more about being inspired, happy, and find interest in things, than pleasing a person with “lillentheshire has now started following you”. I am not a people pleaser, have never been, never will be. I don’t see my account name as a prize. I don’t see my account name as an achievement. Because that is just the name of my account, that I as a person use to look at things I like, and upload a picture a day.

I also don’t like being pushed on, so if you ask me to follow you, I guarantee you that I will not. I will look at the name of your account and think “nope!” and just avoid you. Because I am a person who needs to be left alone. Who needs to be able to explore on my own. Because that is what gives me joy on social media. Because any push in a direction I do not want, will trigger my short temper and it will all be associated with the name of your account. Whops? That backfired quickly.

Yet I do my best to be polite and give a proper reply. Because I don’t want to reduce you to the name of your account, because I believe there is a person there somewhere. And so many people prove me wrong by acting up. I mean, I could just block them, right? Yet I choose to attempt to have a conversation with them.

Also, if anyone comments “F4F?” on any of my posts, I will delete it and mark it as spam. Because it implies that hunting for followers is normal, and I don’t want the younger persons following me to think that that’s completely fine way to see things. Because it’s not. We don’t need to boost the idea that the amount of followers defines you.

Allow me to be a person.

Emma

The very well planned yet increadibly spontanous photo shoot.

Alright. We all know how unpredictable life is. And this photo shoot was very well planned, Kristine was coming over from fairy far away, and I had this grand idea of my outfit and makeup and everything. 

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So I didn’t get to shower or wash my hair. I didn’t even have the time to do my makeup. For a very long period of time, we weren’t even sure we’d manage to get any pictures taken, because daylight is limited in Norway during winter. So I rushed home from work, grabbed two thick woollen sweaters, the first pair of breeches I found on the floor, threw my fringe to the side and drove like crazy to the stable.

But we managed.

With a tiny ice-less spot on the corner of the stable, we managed. Lillen couldn’t walk anywhere because his clumsy barefootness would’ve caused him to fall over. We didn’t even got the time to brush his hair. But we managed. Or, correct that; Kristine managed.

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I looked the lovechild of a raisin and a potato. But Lillen is handsome and the pictures are gorgeous. And that’s all that matters, right?

Pictures by the ever so amazing Kristine Øihaugen (you’ll find her here on Instagram). We are planning another shoot soon, and hopefully this will turn out to be as well planned as we plan to!

Emma

2017 in pictures

I’m not going to write a whole lot, but I really love looking back at all the pictures I’ve taken through the years. Late December I always throw my favoutites in a blog post to re-share with the world, and here we are!

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Most of these pictures are either taken by me, or my mother, who kindly offers to photograph me and my horses from time to time.

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… and that’s all for today I think, lots and lots of pictures!

My camera is collecting dust at the moment, because I work ‘nine to five’ and there’s seriously no daylight to shoot in when I’m not working, and because with the holidays and such, I’ve been busy with panicing rather than doing something smart about my life. O-boy!

Emma