Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Finding the Right Saddle

Before the winter hit, a barn mate brought out a saddle fitter for her new horse (A very broad backed Canadian breed). I was intrigued, because I knew the Wintec still didn’t fit right for either of us, and was hoping she’d might be able to help us out, without going the route of a custom saddle. While Terry does do custom Schleese, she was more than willing to work with Ashe and I.

Ashe made me so proud! He stood like a pro without being tied the entire time she was measuring and adjusting the tools on his back and around his belly. It wasn’t too long ago that he had bolted from a cloth measuring tape when I attempted to measure him for a blanket.
Such a handsome boy!
In the end she told me what I had thought, but hoped was wrong. The saddle didn’t fit, it was too long in the tree (he has a small saddle bearing area) and too tight for all around wither clearance. Apparently it’s not enough just to have 3 fingers between the top of wither to the gullet, but also enough clearance (3-4 fingers) on the side AND wide enough so it wasn't pushing on his spine. Along with this, the angle of the gullet needs to match the shoulders to allow for freedom of movement.
I was given a task: Finding a saddle with a short tree, for wide backed low wither horse with the right angle. The only saddle she could think to recommend for me to try was Thorowgood. Well I couldn’t buy a brand new saddle with my wintec sitting in my tack trunk so I took it to be sold (along with other tack that just ended up not fitting him. Seriously, this horse needs cob cheek pieces and an oversize browband…). Over the winter we worked on our ground work and laterals while I searched.
After asking on COTH, I contacted Hastilow and we found a “semi-warm” (aka about 28 degrees) day to test ride a saddle or two. They almost didn’t have anything for me, but at the last minute found what is now, my lovely new to me saddle J It’s a cob tree Thorowgood T8 jumping saddle in a 17inch seat. The flaps are short which I adore (I will always get short flaps now if I can! Yay for short inseams!) and my leg falls into the right spot effortlessly. Some new padding and an extra medium tree… and we were raring to go!

Look at all that awesome space!

Small horse, Small Rider, Small Saddle!
The only thing, because my boy has an almost abnormally short back, is that the back panel comes right to the edge of where a saddle should be. So before every right I pound back the fluff so that he has time to warm up before any pressure is put on that last rib. However the difference I have seen (AND FELT) in this saddle with my boy astounds me. He’s more willing to do his laterals, he’s picking up his right lead more easily and, now that I’m balanced, he’s more balanced as well. 
If it wouldn’t be super expensive, I’d get someone to recut and shorten those back panels into a more “upswept” style. However since the saddle is all one piece, that's a bit unfeasible at the moment. But for what we do? It’s perfect. Fingers crossed that it continues to fits him as we muscle up for the summer.
A big thanks to Terry and Fit Right Saddle Solutions! Another to Hastilow Saddlery!

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