While there are lots of things I could write about, something has been engulfing my mind for the last 2 days – my all purpose saddle.
First off, let me tell the story of this saddle and how good it has been to me. I was browsing internet classifieds one day and came across an ad saying something along the lines of “$50 saddle, don’t know make or size, in Georgetown” Doesn’t exactly sell it very well, but I thought “hey I might as well get it and if it doesn’t fit my horse, I will donate it to the riding school, I’m sure they have someone who it will fit” So there I did it, bought a $50 saddle without even trying it. It was in good shape, the leather on the seat wasn’t the best quality, but overall it was a nice enough saddle. By some sort of miracle, it fit my horse perfectly! It also fit me perfectly and was so comfortable, I could do anything in it. It was a dream come true and we have been using it for almost a year now.
But here is the sad part, while the story has a fairy tale ending, fairy tales neglect to tell you what happens after the prince and princess ride off into the sunset. In this case, time went by and as can be expected, my young horse started to change: getting fitter, growing just a little taller, and filling out in general.
Then it happened. At our last lesson, Bentley was impossible to mount. Placing him at the block, he would walk forward the moment I climbed those stairs. A check on the reins, he went back back back, or sideways, twist, you name it! Even when I thought I had him pinned in a corner, he would manage to escape. Mounting from the ground was no better because as soon as I put that foot in the stirrup, he would trot away… and if I was stubborn enough I would go with him (even if it meant hopping on one leg beside him) Of course, all these antics happened with Margie watching. How embarrassing, I cant even get on my horse!
It was particularly frustrating as this has been something we have been working on for a long time. As soon as my weight was on him, he would walk away. Lots of mounting corrections and just a week ago we had our best mount… only 1 step of 1 foot. So how did it go so wrong?
I have been sitting and pondering this greatly for the past few days, and I remembered some other clues that I had missed:
- hes getting difficult to put a saddle on. After a year of him being an angel for saddling he suddenly started walking to the very end of crossties when I lift it towards his back. Duh… how could I have missed this? Hes also making crabby faces at me when I girth him… something we never had a problem with before, and when he started giving mild girthy signs without any rubbing, I attributed it to his clip (short prickly hair) making it feel uncomfortable
- I switched saddle pads the previous ride before my lesson. Reason being it was filthy, but the clean one I brought was much thinner… perhaps the lack of padding pushed him over the edge?
- Perhaps the running in the canter was my first clue? Trying to escape pinching or pressure? He has much improved this, but my position is much less forward as a result of recent lessons, perhaps that is relieving some of the pressure?
So I have come to the conclusion that this rapid change in his attitude MUST have something to do with tack fit. After all, he is so loving and easygoing, smart and willing to please – this is very out of character for him. He must think I am an idiot for not hearing his calls before!
So now the focus is finding a solution. Tonight I am going to give a good look at the saddle and see what I can determine myself from it. Can I use a halfpad as a temporary solution? Will I need a new saddle? I already know re-stuffing my current saddle isn’t worthwhile simply because its a cheap saddle to begin with, so where do I go from here? Do I use my endurance saddle in the meantime (which Margie doesn’t like for canter work – which is what we need to do the most!)?
Of course, I have already found myself browsing through catalogs of manufacturers. One thought that comes to mind is – how much am I willing to spend? After all, its going to be just for lessons and potentially showing if we do decide to event this year… but that’s second to endurance goals. It also had me thinking “what if I can find a saddle I can do both in? (and contribute to my budget by selling my endurance one)” Which sounds great but is much harder to find than I thought. I was lucky enough with my old saddle that I could do hours of riding in it with no comfort issues, but will I find that again with another all purpose or jumping saddle? Will it be enough when we start doing 50s?
I DID find something I keep coming back to no matter where else I look (and so far instincts have done me fine… after all, I did fall in love with Bentley before I even met him! And my previous saddle spoke for itself):
Its by Prestige and its called Endurance 2. Where Endurance 1 went… I’m not really sure. This seems to be the only one that LOOKS like I could get away with it to do low level eventing (which is probably all I will ever do anyway), while still marketing itself as an endurance saddle. Im guessing the very squishy looking seat is the reason for it. But then again, can I jump in it? Does anyone out there know anything about this saddle? I couldn’t find any reviews or dialogue about it. Worse even… I cant find anyone selling it in or offering trials to Canada. How do I get these questions answered? Best price I could find was in Europe: http://www.saddlery.biz/prestige-endurance-2-saddle.html
The brand does have a bunch of “recreational” saddles that might also fit the bill (while not marketing themselves so much as endurance saddles)… but equally hard to find: http://www.prestigeitaly.com/products.asp?menu=leisure&LAN=ENG
The plus side is in general for the brand, it sounds like they adjust easily (by professional) including adjustable tree.
But I am also confused, because while it claims to be Italian, I come across this http://guangzhou-horse-saddle-export.imexbb.com/?offer=sell&cat=&limit=20#SELL A Chinese manufacturer advertising prestige saddles.
Are they actually made in China? Or is this a knockoff? Does anyone know??? I cant find any mention of china on their website, but I know these things can be difficult to trace sometimes. It does interest me greatly, because if its REAL and I can import it through my business (should I decide this is the right path for me)… I could save some moolah? Which in turn could be put towards adjustments as often as my little heart desires? Yes the internet brings all sorts of questions to mind.
Something tells me I am in for a lonnnng and frustrating search.