In my whole life’s experience with horses until I began this blog and training for endurance, no one had ever suggested to me that my horse’s saddle might not fit properly. It was not something I considered.
Now, I don’t believe that my horses had always been in pain when I rode them, either. I knew/know the basics of saddle fit. I understand the concepts pretty well, how the tree is supposed to follow the shape of the back with the weight resting well-spread over the thick muscles running on either side of the spine, but never touching the spine or withers, that it must not be too long nor too short for the horse so as not to “bridge” or cut in, and how the gullet is supposed to follow the angle of the horse. This all (while not an all-inclusive list on saddle fitting) makes sense to me.
The trouble is that I just don’t have the eye for this kind of thing! It’s embarrassing to say, sad but true. My head knows what it is supposed to look like, but when my eye looks at the horse…..I can’t SEE the difference between a good-fitting or poorly fitting saddle. Same goes for conformation (shoulder angle, length of back, croup, being well-balanced, pastern length…I know the terms and what you’re supposed to have/look for…but I would never make a good judge – I just have a terrible time SEEING these things.
So I have enlisted the help of Kitt Hazelton with Trumbull Mtn. Tack Shop, Inc. She has a blog (see link in my sidebar), and has added a feature where she will give recommendations for saddle fit. I asked her if she would do an evaluation on Arabee and our current saddle, and let me know what she thought. I hear that her evaluation of Arabee and her saddle is to be the next blog post she does. She has mentioned briefly that she doesn't think the current saddle I'm riding in is best for my mare, but has said that she'll go into more detail in this next post.
So now, since the saddle I currently have (photo shows the saddle "all wrapped up" ready to be removed after a ride - attached is crupper, breastcollar, stirrups, girth, saddle pad - this has really improved my tacking time!) isn’t the best for my lovely mare, I’ll be needing a new one, ASAP. I must be very budget conscious, so a good used saddle is likely in my future.
- I am attracted to the Wintec saddles (synthetic, easy care, lightweight, interchangeable gullet, CAIR panels), in particular the Wintec Pro Stock CS with Swinging Fender (it’s the bottom one on the page) I have found a used one for sale, but it’s unlikely I will be able to try it before I buy.
- I’m also considering the treeless option. I like that the treeless can be lightweight and that they often can be fitted easier. I don’t like that they are frequently said to be less secure (for the rider).
I have always really liked the security that the western seat offered. However, I REALLY don’t want a horn, I always found that grabbing the horn off-sets my balance more than just squaring up and holding on with my thighs! Plus the danger of getting “horn gut” is a risk I'd rather not encounter. So, that's why I like the idea of the Australian type saddle - western security without a horn.....BUT I've never ridden in an Aussie saddle before.
This is a HUGE investment for me and my family, and one I'm not taking lightly due to the present poor economy and uncertain times. Admittedly, the idea of riding endurance is thrilling to me, BUT, horse stuff is not a "need" in the same category as food, shelter, clothing....so if I have to break the bank to buy a saddle that fits, endurance is out.
I'd very much appreciate any input whatsoever anyone could give me about their saddle choices, how they work for them, any tips or suggestions at all at this time will be very valuable to me - Thanks in advance!