As I said earlier Steele's new saddle arrived last week. At first there seemed to be a mix up as it wasn't in the order. Turns out this 'model' doesn't come in an 18" seat size. The Saddle Fitter (sorry I don't like to use names without permission) said she'd bring me her 17.5"saddle to fit to him and if I didn't like it we could discuss other options.
A saddle needs to fit both the horse and the rider. Often we think of only half the equation. However, I learned that you need to consider both the hard way (the way I seem to learn most of my life lessons). A few saddles ago I had let myself get talked into a 17" saddle. It never fit me right and it was a real struggle to maintain any sort of position. I was getting so discouraged with hearing 'put your legs back, sit up," and other things that I was ready to give up riding. Then I was at a clinic and the person told me, gently, that this saddle did not fit me. I went saddle shopping and found one that fit both Irish and I. All of sudden keeping my balance in the saddle was easy. So that means that I want to be sure of the new saddle as well and why I was hesitant about the 17.5" seat.
So she brought it out for me to see. She was very patient and we compared the two saddles (Irish's and the new one). When we brought out the tape measure and measured the new one was actually 17 7/8" inches (we measured multiple times). Irish's was 18 1/8" inches. I took Irish's and tipped it over top of the new one. They looked identical. SF adjusted the stuffing and we put it on Steele and she let me around. It felt fine. She recommended that I keep it for a week and try it and let her know if I wanted to keep it. If not she could order the next model up in the size I wanted. That sounded more than fair.
Over the past week I have tried it on Steele 4 times. The first day was wednesday ( I was away for work earlier in the week). I lunged him in it and then just practiced mounting and dismounting. Ed was not home so I didn't ride. I don't want to ride with no one home for a while yet just in case. Thursday Ed was home so I told him I would ride after doing the ground work. He offered to come up and watch but I told him it would be like watching paint dry (I hope) and he just needed to keep a watch out every now and then. I mounted and we walked off. It was my first time riding with no instruction- just him and I. I walked him around for about 10 minutes and then dismounted. The saddle felt fine. Friday I was off so I worked Steele in the morning and then mounted again. This time I rode for about 20 minutes. My idea is to build it slowly and keep it low key and low stress rather then come at it. I have no agenda for this horse (for th first time ever) and so I can go at a speed that may seem slow and I'm okay with it.
Anyway, back to the saddle. I felt really secure in the seat walking around. And it's probably the most comfortable saddle I've ever sat in. But I want to be sure so I then put the saddle on Irish. It's not a great fit for him but it wasn't too bad. I wanted to test it out at walk, trot and canter to see how it felt. I rode for about 20 minutes. At all three gaits it was easy to keep my legs in position and to cue. So I finished the ride and sent the email that I was keeping it.
Saturday I rode Steele again (not sure how long, about 20-30 minutes after lunging). As we were working on steering I realized that all I had to do to turn him was shift my weight slighly. I weighted the right stirrup and he turned right until I straightened. Same to the left. I stilled my seat and he stopped. Once I noticed this I was fascinated with how well he responded and kept playing with that: left circle, across diagonal, right circle (well really they were more 'circle-ish'). The reins only came into play when I really needed them. It was an incredible feeling. Now I just have to make sure I don't screw that up. Heaven help me.
|the snazzy new and comfortable saddle (Kent and Masters). Note the 'holy crap' handle :)|