I couldn't wait for Estes to get home from winter pasture so I could try out my Million Dollar Idea, but the day we brought her home, I just wasn't up to trying it out. The BolderBoulder kicked my arse and I was plum tuckered out. I managed a ride around the block on her the day I brought her home and that was it until Sunday, when I worked at the livery.
We closed down a bit early on Sunday and I decided to give my Million Dollar Idea a go. I pulled Estes from the pen and brushed her (Mom did an AMAZING job on her mane - truly astounding). Mom had pulled her Aussie saddle out and thought it might fit Estes and in order to try out my Idea, I had to make sure that she'd stand still while I mounted.
I tacked her up with the saddle, kept the lead rope on and started bouncing in the stirrup. If she moved one foot, she got sent out to circle. It only took a couple of times to remind her to stand still, so I went from bouncing in the stirrup to completely mounting up. Well, I tried, any way. I got mounted without her moving once, so I dismounted and started all over again. Only, this time, when I went to swing my leg over, the saddle slipped and I couldn't regain my balance. I almost did - my right leg came back down and as soon as my foot hit the gravel it slipped, but I still almost managed to keep my feet. I got my left foot out of the stirrup and took a step back. And the gravel went out from that foot. It was, not only embarrassing, but the most slow-motion fall on my butt I think I've ever had. I was laughing before I hit the ground and Estes pivoted to look down at me and laugh. If I'd only had the camera for the look on her face. She's such an expressive mare and if y'all could have seen the look she gave me.
I re-saddled her and mounted up - she didn't move a muscle, so off around the block we went at a pretty good clip. We got back and I untacked her, then told Bill to get the yellow tow strap out of the truck so I could try my Million Dollar Idea.
I got my Million Dollar Idea from Mrs Mom's mounting strap. I thought it would be great if I could figure out a way to attach a mounting strap to Estes for bareback riding. When we go out on the trails, if something needs fixed or picked up, Bill has to do it, because he's the only one who can remount from the ground. You know, tall Bill, short Ranger. Makes life easier. I have to use the mounting stump in the yard to climb up on Her Highness and finding a place out on the trail that's tall enough for me to remount is a pain in the butt.
I mulled it over for a few days and thought that if I had something that was long enough for Estes to stand on with her front right hoof, drape up over her withers and hang down far enough for me to get my toes in, I might be able to mount up from the ground. I didn't necessarily want anything like a stirrup - I just needed something to give me a little extra "boost" so I could jump up to lay across her back and then scramble up. I just flat-out don't have the springs any more to jump high enough to get across her.
Have I mentioned lately how much I love my horse? No, really. I love that opinionated, pain-in-the-ass mare. A lot.
Bill got me the tow strap and I started on the near-side, guessed where I thought the loop needed to be and then dropped the whole thing over her neck. She didn't even twitch an ear. Then I went around and lifted her right front, situated the strap where I wanted it, and placed her hoof down on the strap. I tugged on the loop, fussed with it a bit, put some pressure on it - nothing. She didn't care one bit.
The loop on the tow strap was so small I could barely wedge my toes into it, but I sort of managed and tried to heave my way up. The first couple of tries weren't so successful, so I decided I needed to shorten the strap a bit, so that it wouldn't have the tendency to want to wrap under her belly. I rearranged the strap and tried again. Almost. I had it too short, so I couldn't put my toes in AND get enough of a spring off my right foot to get across her back.
Bill gave it a go and it worked for him. In fact, after the first time, he was able to swing his leg over like he was mounting from a stirrup. I never quite got that far. It was going to take some more adjusting for me to do it, but after seeing Bill do it, I'm confident my Million Dollar Idea is going to work.
The plan is that once I use it to mount up with, I'll have Estes take a step off the strap, and wrap it around her neck and let her carry it.
Throughout the whole thing, she stood rock solid and didn't give a damn what we were doing. Love, love, love that mare.
Now, Mrs Mom is ordering the stuff to make a 9' bareback mounting strap to match Her Highness' halter. As soon as I get it, I'll be sure to post pictures (and maybe a video) of how it works.