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Re: [RC] Sponging on the fly - rides2far

This is something I have never really mastered.  Any tips?  How big, 
and what kind of sponge.
I like   How long a rope?  and what kind of rope? 
How do you carry it?  is it attached to the saddle and if so how? 
Where do you aim when you throw it? >

Thanks for finding the earlier post April. I pasted it below this one.
You're better with the archives search than I am! 

I re-read it and most of it's still good. I will say I'm going with a
*slightly* thicker cotton string nowadays. Still, probably about
1/8"...maybe slightly thinner than clothesline. The big difference in
sponging on the fly and what most people do which is "dipping" is you do
a lot more of it, at *every* water source and you don't stop to do it.
When you sponge on the fly you don't have to worry about bothering other
drinking horses like you do at the creek where everyone stops.

Some people like a biothane "leash" attached to a natural sponge. If you
dip that's good because the natural sponge picks up *lots* of water. I
even saw Jody sponge on the fly with a small natural sponge. I just like
the hour glass shaped car wash sponge myself. The leash may be easier to
put away if you have long dry sections of trail. I just stick my sponge
under the pommel of my saddle if I need my hands free once I've gotten it
out. I just don't care for that leash getting mixed up with my reins. I
can also customize the length of my string better.  I once had a "bungee
sponge" which somebody had lost on the trail and I kept as "spoils" after
managing a ride. It had about 3/4" elastic instead of string. It really
snapped back to your hand at a dipping stop, but if you tried to sponge
on the fly it stretched too far and scuffed the ground on the swing

I would be very careful about attaching my sponge to the saddle. You do
not want a dragging sponge and bolting horse and have a hard time getting
it loose from the saddle. If I put a snap or velcro on my sponge, I put
it at the point of the sponge, not on the other end of the string. When
you tie your wrist loop, make it big enough that you could slip out of it
easily...ESPECIALLY if it's something like biothane that is strong enough
to drag your or yank you off your horse if it hooks on something.

As far as "where do you aim"? I make my string just long enough that my
sponge can reach the water when it's out at a slight angle from my horse
and my arm's extended. I throw for the middle of the mudhole where it's
deepest if I can get my horse close enough. I usually throw to my right
since I'm right handed. If I'm crossing a river and want to throw to the
left I throw over to the left, then make a circle with my left pointer
and thumb around the string. Then I can yank my right hand back and the
sponge goes directly up to my left hand to sponge off the left side. Just
getting your horse wet once is no good in high humidity. Sponge, then use
fresh cold water to remove the hot water you just put on. The more times
you sponge, the better. I watch videos of people riding across the river
at Big South Fork and make sure I got more reps than anyone else. >g<

Get your horse *very* used to sponges swinging past his nose, around his
legs, under his belly, *everywhere*. It may save a wreck someday.

Below is the earlier post I wrote describing my technique. It's what
works for me.



O.K. all, I'm going to take you serious and give you all a lesson.

First:  The sponge is important.  I like an oblong carwash type sponge. 
It's gotta fit well in your hand that's why I don't like natural sponges.

Next: the string.  I like cotton string, nylon comes untied.  I buy mine
at K-Mart in a bag in housewares I think.  Bigger than yo-yo string, but
not as thick as round shoelaces.  Don't know how else to describe it...a
little fatter than spaghetti?

Tie the string around the middle of the sponge, tight.  So that it's
shaped like a figure 8. Makes it good for gripping.  To get the length
right you have to experiment.  It'll make you or break you for the "on
the fly" bit.  Kaboot is 14.2  I'm 5' tall.  I hold my arm straight
slightly raised and that's how long I like my string.  Tie a permanent
loop to go around your wrist that is not a slip knot.  Should be loose
enough to slip on easily.

FIRST RULE of using the sponge efficiently.  Once you start, carry it in
your hand.  If you put it away, you'll spend all your time trying to get
to it and the string will be knotted, etc.  By the time you see water,
you've already trotted by it, gotta be prepared.  A horse that does leg
yields is good for getting close enough to the mudhole at a trot.

NEXT RULE:  Get the sponge wet before you get on the horse in the
morning. It's gotta be wet or it won't sink & soak up water.  The muddier
you get a new sponge the better.  They're much better after they're broke
in...they get a little weight to them.

I don't like a metal snap on mine.  My favorite "attachers" was the
velcro off of an old polo wrap.  I sewed it around the middle of the
sponge and it stayed on my breast collar really well.  I've tried buying
velcro but haven't found any I liked as well.  I don't like rubbing that
metal snap down the horse's neck all day.

READY TO THROW?  I'm assuming your horse has already been introduced to
sponging at a standstill, so, you're trotting by a puddle.  You throw
your sponge at it hard, your horse trots past so the sponge naturally
swings behind you, let it complete that swing to the rear, then swing it
all the way back out in front.  As it hits the farthest point forward,
give your wrist a flip, like a yo yo and snap it back to your hand
quickly...sponge horse, be ready for the next puddle.

I don't recommend throwing to the left until you're really good at the
right.  I don't throw to the left at all on 100's (unless desperate)
because there's a good chance you may sit on the sponge and wet tights
are the pits on a 100.

If you have trouble reaching the puddles, lengthen your string a little.

If you have trouble getting the sponge to come back to your hand, it's
probably too long.

If you're crossing a river, practice throwing it straight down, then
"snapping" it back to your hand with the flip of the wrist.  If the water
is deep, your string will feel too long to do it very well though.  If
it's not up to his knees, you ought to be able to do it.

By the way, take duct tape and tape down all the loose ends on your
breast collar or you'll spend all your time unhooking your sponge string
from them.

I don't recommend sponging on the fly for the first 12 miles if you're
new to it.  A runaway and a sponge wrapped through your reins are no fun.

If I've left anything out, feel free to ask questions.

I actually set out to write a "how to" story when I ended up writing my
"Sponge" story that's lots of people's favorites (only one I've ever sold
twice so it has a special place in my heart too. :-)  It ended up
spending more time documenting all the mishaps I've managed to get into
with it.

Angie & Kaboot (slightly mildewed from constant dampness)  


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