Okay…anyone else having issues with the new wordpress editor??? Pictures are coming in either super big or super tiny and not where I want them. Frustrating. Sorry for any weirdness in this post as I try to figure this out.
Well, there is $230 I’ll never see again. Plus I lost my temper which is something I try to avoid doing and in general I am pretty good at fuming silently to myself. Of course the moment I snapped was the moment Bette, who had so kindly invited me, happened to pull in and walk up. Sorry, Bette. My limit had been reached.
H’Appy hasn’t been too many places with me and I was pretty nervous about how he would behave. I warned both the fitter and the lovely woman in charge of organizing this that he can be interesting in new places and asked if I could come early. I was the first appointment of the day and was given the ok. We pulled in about 40 minutes early and I unloaded H’Appy to walk him around the facility and settle in.
Turns out I needn’t have worried. He was on his best behavior and beyond some angry grazing he never made a peep, pulled on the lead rope or acted a fool. I was really, really proud of my big orange beast. He has come a long way from the anxiety ridden mess that I brought home.
When it was time for the fitting, I walked him over and introduced ourselves. I had had a lengthy conversation several days prior with the fitter’s wife and went over my saddle fit concerns, his size and background, my background and budget. They knew he went in a wide tree in other brands and I was looking for a close contact/jump saddle in a 17-17.5″ seat. When we walked up I told the fitter that H’Appy gets nervous around new people and asked him to take it slow before poking or prodding him. I filled him in on the history since May, the lameness eval and the fact that his current saddle is too narrow down his spine putting pressure on the spine and creating back pain. I showed him the area of concern as well.
Well, my idea and his idea of slow were very different and before either of us knew it he was digging his fingers into the spot I told him was sore. Surprise! H’Appy about flew out of his skin and any calm he had before that was out the window. The guy turned to me and told me I needed to put him on a muscle relaxer. I blinked and stared blankly not knowing really how to respond to this.
He moved on commenting “I don’t think your horse trusts me” as H’Appy bent like a pretzel trying to keep his eye on this strange man who was determined to shove his fingers in all his sore spots. Once he poked his other side he commented again about putting him on a muscle relaxer to which I responded that my vet said no drugs were needed, had prescribed massage which I got done (of note the massage lady who took her time found soreness in his right shoulder stemming from his foot pain but barely anything in the back) and a new saddle which was why I was there. No medicines thank you.
The fitter moved on to use his super cool measuring stick and make a tracing of his back at the gullet area. He measured him as an extra, extra (yup two extras) wide in the brands he carried and then told me that he only had medium trees with him. I stared. At this point my patience was about up with this process. If he didn’t have any wide trees he should have told me that on the phone so I knew ahead of time that I wouldn’t be riding. In fact, had he told me he didn’t have anything wider than a medium I would have ridden with the potential new trainer and saved the hour trip and money. But there I was so I stomped off to hand H’Appy over to Dusty so I could look at the saddles he had.
He carries Smith Worthington and Prestige and pulled several out for me to look at and sit in on a saddle stand. Only one fit my needs. One was an AP that he was fond of but I told him I don’t want an AP saddle and the others didn’t fit me at all. The issue was that it was too narrow to go on my horse. So quite pointless really as we all know the fit in motion can be very different than on a stand.
He tried to pressure me into buying it. He had a whole talk about how the tree can be widened and the flocking redone and while I don’t question his knowledge or ability there, why on earth would I buy a saddle I never got to try on my horse? How does that make sense?
Then he dropped the bomb that he doesn’t sell any saddles he physically has and it would be 8-10 weeks before I could get anything. What the actual heck?!? I had told him very clearly on the phone that I needed a saddle now. Why not inform me of this little fact before?
Right at this moment I was done. I knew I would need to pay for this and had gotten nothing of use from my afternoon. I explained to him very pointedly that I would not order a saddle I haven’t ridden in and that is when Bette walked up while he mentioned for the fourth time about needing to use a muscle relaxer except now he decided to inform me that “it will help his brain” and questioned the need to find a new vet because obviously my vet was terrible for not putting him on drugs.
I lost it. Completely lost it. First, no a muscle relaxer has no effect on the brain which is not a muscle. Some can have a sedative effect but there is no mental benefit from a muscle relaxer. Second, you are not a vet. I have already told you I’m not going to drug my horse and either talk to me about a saddle or nothing at all. I was mean. I was bitchy. I was done.
I walked back to the truck seeing flames, turned around to grab my riding equipment that I didn’t get to use and Bette walked back to the trailer with me to meet H’Appy. We chatted a bit and then I went home. On the way home, while Dusty drove, I began a fevered search online of back pain symptoms, diagnoses and treatments. H’Appy had never shown so much reaction to back palpation before but if he was that painful it could account for his demeanor under saddle. I ran that rabbit hole during the hour drive home.
Once home I palpated the crap out of his back the way I was taught by my vet. Start at the withers and using the meaty part of your fingers, slowly and firmly slide down the length of the back towards the butt looking for a reaction. I did it three times pressing down as hard as I could. Nothing. No flinch. No ear flick in my direction. No reaction whatsoever. Let me repeat that. NO REACTION WHATSOEVER.
Here is a hint. Any horse no matter how good they feel can react to finger tips and nails dug into a single spot without warning.
All is not lost though! Last Tuesday I ran into the local tack shop to get a new blanket for Gem. Hers is nearing 7 years and has never been waterproofed since purchase and the heavy rain (we ended up with just over 5″ Monday-Thursday last week) made me worry it wouldn’t be good enough. Anyway. There sat a gorgeous Black Country Wexford saddle on consignment in my budget. It looked a bit narrow but I took it out on trial because why not?. I rode in it Friday and my butt sang the songs of the heavens. Well, mostly. It was a bit big for me and a size narrow for him (it was a medium wide) but I did like it. The thigh rolls kept me so secure I felt like he could have bucked to the moon and I would have stayed on.
The Wexford is a deep seated close contact built to feel extra secure and is very close to an all purpose. I’ve scoured the internet looking for reviews and read everything from “too bulky, no feel of the horse” to “I ride to the 1* level in it on xc and stadium and love it”. I was a bit worried about how much saddle there is. It is billed as perfect for the novice jumper, fox hunter or any one who wants a arm chair feel. Hmmm…not sure I want an arm chair feel in my saddle. I did find out that they make a Ricochet model that uses the Wexford tree and a traditional jump seat that is more low profile and I’d like to try that as well before deciding. There is a Black Country dealer in Aiken, but she charges $200 + travel fees for a fitting and I am already $300 in the whole with useless fittings now. I’m going to contact Trumbull Mountain and see if they can offer suggestions over the phone/internet and try out a few models through them for minimal shipping costs since I already have a good feel for what I need – 17″ (hurray for half sizes!)for me and wide for lard ass. If I was ordering custom made, I’d go the dealer route but I can’t afford that so will need to be looking for a close enough fit in a used saddle.