So much happened this weekend that I want to write about. I’m conniving some exciting plans for the near future and I need to really need to write about the lesson that went very awry on Friday, but have to put more thought into how I want to do that. Instead I am jumping forward to the saddle fitting experience I had on Sunday.
I had the Custom Saddlery rep out. She is local to me which is a plus and was easy to talk to/schedule with. I’m trying to go about this saddle shopping ordeal with the least amount of money waste as possible. With Gem I did the whole trial and error method which seemed like a good idea at the time, but ended up costing me thousands in trial fees and shipping costs. This time around I am trying out the saddle fitter route.
After the debacle that was Friday, I wanted to hop on him and warm him up a bit before she came. The last thing I needed was a bronc under me while trying to evaluate if the saddle fit him or not. He came out fairly well only melting down one time when he noticed Gem and Pete grazing just outside the arena fence. I got his head back in the game quickly though I was curious how he would handle getting tacked back up and working again and again and again.
What surprised me the most was that she didn’t take a single measurement of him or me. She looked at him, palpated his back and then went to the van and pulled out six saddles. I had told her I rode in a 17.5″, but she didn’t know if that was the right size for me or not. In fact, we didn’t even really talk about my goals, level of experience or his training. I told her I wanted a jump saddle and that he currently went in a wide Kieffer AP.
To her credit, I think some of this was because the trees in her saddles can be adjusted with her special machine to fit any size, so it really didn’t matter what his size was as she could easily modify any of her saddles to fit him. Still, it was a little odd to see a fitter just throw saddles on him and say “yep, looks good!”.
Anyway, I ended up trying six saddles: two Jeffries, an AP and an event, and four Custom, all jump. It was nice to sit in a variety of flap configurations, seat styles and leather types to get a feel for what I like.
H’Appy for his part was holding his crap together as best as he could given the fact that we kept tacking him back up and heading off to w/t/c and tackle a cross rail. I made the nearly fatal mistake of using the Wintec Chafeless girth which is 2″ longer and fit a bit better with the shorter billets on her saddles. I very quickly remembered why I no longer use this on him. He hates it. Deep in his soul hates it. I hopped off and changed out the girth to his fuzzy fleece one which appeased him some. Of note, when I tried the event saddle with long billets I borrowed her short leather girth and that made him very happy. I’m telling you this pain in the butt beast has expensive ass taste.
Of the six saddles I tried, two I ruled out before even asking him to move on. I sat weird in them and just plain hated them. One he ruled out without question even with the happy girth. That left three remaining, one I didn’t like the super flat seat on and two I gave a second go around in to compare.
The Jeffries event saddle was a nice fit for him, he moved out really well in it and I sat pretty ok. I liked the single flap design (different than a monoflap apparently although right now I can’t recall all the details on how it is different) and the large knee roll. The flap was a bit too forward for what I need and I found the calf block to be restricting on the flat. Not surprising since it is built to go cross country in a more forward seat position. Lovely saddle, just not what I need.
That left the Custom Monte Carlo close contact. I rode in it twice and it was my favorite of the bunch. If you look closely you can see pretty blue piping. I was a bit worried the +2 forward flap would be too forward and I am still iffy on that, but my leg hung effortlessly and when he decided to buck a little because someone had to pee but refused to do so in the arena, I felt secure enough. The seat felt a bit roomier than I would like and kind of slippery, but she assured me it would break in.
I was waffling quite a lot. It fit him well, but honestly he is a really easy horse to fit. He has plenty of real estate, a standard shaped back with well defined shoulders that keeps the saddle back plus he has lower withers. Seriously, I think most saddles as long as they are wide enough will fit him which is such a difference from my extremely hard to fit Gemmie.
The saddle I tried was a well used two year old demo and while it was reduced in price it was still a bit of a shock when she told me the price. For that much money (think double my planned budget) my butt better be singing and I better never come out of it. I was about to tell her no thanks when she mentioned the 10 day free trial. Since she lives close by it wouldn’t even cost me shipping to return. I figured taking it on and riding in it for a while wouldn’t be terrible. If I did decide I loved it I could start a search for a used version or if I still wasn’t in love I’d know for sure to move on.
When she left I had a not bad but not wonderful fuzzy feeling either. Like, all she did was slap a bunch of saddles on his back and have me ride in them. No real input otherwise unless I dragged it out of her and honestly who knows if a smaller seat size would have been better, she never even mentioned it and went off the 17.5″ I told her I typically ride in. I’m honestly not even sure it was worth the $95 it cost to have her out, but I will say that she was very patient with his shenanigans and my own wimpy refusal to canter or jump until I had his focus at least somewhat on me instead of firmly up his own butt.
I have another fitting this Sunday with Bette, thanks for the invite!!!!, with a totally different line of saddles that I am excited to try. I will need to apologize profusely in advance for his behavior. I have zero idea how he will be off property surrounded by other horses and rain is in the forecast today through Thursday so no riding will be happening. Which sucks. But oh well. As long as he stays in the arena and I can test some things out I’ll be happy. Well, mostly happy. Happier if I end up with a saddle I love and can move forward with my diabolical plan to make him a better behaved steed.