Bentley gets to model my saddle that I received for the Derby. Only 13 of the 2014 riders got their saddle in advance, and I am lucky enough to be one of those. I will be responsible for bringing it with me to Mongolia of course, but I get to play around with it in the meantime.
There is a wool pad to go under it too, it makes it look more like a real saddle. It came with a girth, but since Bentley is significantly larger than a pony, I had to use an all-purpose girth to get it on him (the dressage one wouldn’t fit… fatso!). I will have to add my own fenders and stirrups. We are going to rummage through Linda’s inventory to see if we can find anything suitable before ordering anything.
I hate to say this, but I am not particularly loving the saddle. I did take it for a 5 minute test ride, no stirrups. Its too wide for me, perhaps it is made for male riders, so the edges of the seat (while not sharp) dig slightly into the tops of my thighs. The seat is also much less cushy than I am used to, and while a carbon fiber tree makes it very light, it doesn’t flex with my seat and the horse’s back – making me more of a passenger than a rider (riders will know what I mean by that). Bentley tossed his head around a bit when I did a quick trot and canter, it must feel weird to him too. I don’t think it fits him poorly (he has spine clearance and no rocking or apparent gaps), but it is very different than our cross-country saddle we are used to. I am hoping that once I have the stirrups and can spend more time up, we can move along comfortably (though not winning any equitation or other style awards). Then I will begin to know what issues I may face with it through the Derby itself.
The good side to this is I know what issues I will be facing when riding in the saddle over 1000kms, and I can minimize my dislikes of the saddle in advance. Imagine how disappointed I would have been if I got there and tried my saddle to find out any of the above! Time to get looking into seatsavers and fenders 🙂