Thursday, May 9, 2024

The Compound Effect for Horsemanship

I’m reading a book called, The Compound Effect. It was recommended by my son to my husband, and he finished it in a day.

The Compound Effect
He writes about how life is like putting money in a retirement account. For a long time you don’t see the benefit, but after awhile, it takes off. Big life changes are mostly made with small steps. You’re more likely to follow through with small changes. 

I took a week off from riding, and then had a lesson, and you could see how the opposite had occurred. Tweed and I lost some ground. First off, I couldn't believe it had been a week. It went by so fast, and I couldn't remember what I did until I took time to piece it together--an overnight trip, some bad weather, lots of babysitting, ...poof! Gone!

Tweed seemed off, and my trainer was trying to figure out if it was just a bad day or if it was the tack. He had gotten his first set of shoes on which can sometimes make him grumpy. Perhaps, that was it...or just wanting to be out on pasture eating grass.

We also checked out my saddle and found a little divet about at the left shoulder. The wool is largely rubbed away there. Perhaps, that was it....or just wanting to eat grass.

My saddle is pretty old. I’ve used it for over 20 years, and it came from a roper who had also used it pretty hard. I love it, even though it weighs as much as my horse. You get used to riding in one saddle, and it's hard to change.

I took it into our local saddle shop and he said he could pound down the divet and / or replace the sheep skin, which requires taking it apart. He didn't seem to think it mattered much either way, since I use a thick wool pad. 

I did some research afterward, and apparently the sheep skin was used under saddles because all they had way back in the early days were saddle blankets which were inferior to our modern day pads.

I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to be without my saddle during riding season, but he said he could have it done in 4 days and he’d fix anything else that it needed, plus oil it, for $300. It seemed like a bargain. Yeehaw! I get to keep my old saddle for a while longer.

Circling back to the book, and this concept of doing something small everyday, since I am saddleless, it’s a perfect time for groundwork. I realized that I'd somehow gotten into the bad habit, even though I know better, of making every session with Tumbleweed big.  That's great if you have lots of time everyday, but if you have limited time, the habit of going big can cause paralysis. In other words, it's time to think small again.

My goals this week have been simple: lope to trot transitions and the disengagement dance.

I saw a Buck Brannaman reel on Facebook that was just beautiful.

He calls it the half circle exercise. 

It's actually an exercise Regina had me do with Tumbleweed when he was 2 and 3 because he was getting worked up at her barn and sticky in front. It gets them moving and thinking and respecting your space. When I saw it set to music with the drone overhead, Buck had created something like a dance, and I wanted to circle back and do better with it myself.  When we get it down, I'll share a video...maybe even set it to music. 

I'll also have photos of the new wool on my saddle and an update about the book when I finish it. I could kick myself for not taking a before photo of the saddle. Grrr.  


  1. That video is very interesting. I like how it’s gets them using their body and brain.

    1. Yes, and yielding their front quarters is usually kind of tricky. The back and forth makes it easy to get wrapped up. Buck says they shouldn't come in behind you, and you should be walking in a line. I think we're still meandering.

  2. A saddle maker I know doesn't use sheepskin anymore, he lines the saddle with a layer of closed cell foam and then leather- he uses pigskin- and that's what I had him do with that old Saddle King saddle I rebuilt. There is so much good technology in saddle pads these days that it makes perfect sense not to use sheepskin any more. This guy uses his saddle a lot, in mounted shooting, roping and trail riding and there are no issues with it slipping, in fact sheepskin is more likely to slip than the leather. With the bonus that you don't have to do the maintenance that sheepskin requires if it gets debris or dirt.
    Have you ever thought about taking a Buck clinic? The one in Ellensburg is fairly close to you and he goes there every summer. I've done that half circle exercise, it is harder to do than he makes it look!

    1. That's really interesting, Shirley. I guess I don't remember that about your saddle. You would think it would slip around more, but apparently not. I'm going to pick mine up today, so it's too late for me to make a change.

      I audited a Buck clinic about seven years ago. It was in Dayton, WA. It would be fun to actually ride in one. You'd learn a lot more. Auditing is entertaining, but it doesn't compare.


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