SUBSCRIBE TODAY Smiley face  Get updates via email! 

We Are Flying Solo

December 22, 2011

Is It A Coincidence That "Saddle" And "Satan" Begin With The Same Two Letters?

I don't think I can describe saddle fitting any better than I did herea form of torture akin to holding one's hands in a campfire while being poked in the eyeballs with sharp sticks. If you have any special needs whatsoever, it adds an extra layer of "fun," like a rabbit slowly chewing off your toes while your hands roast.

Encore and I got to spend three hours with the fitter today.  Oh, did I not mention that he's a different shape than Solo?  Of course he is.

It's not so much width -- comparing their tracings shows that Encore is only a bit narrower than Solo, which will no doubt change as the former continues to gain muscle and weight.  It's the longitudinal profile, withers to hips.  Solo is very scoopy, with a big dip in his back and hollows behind the withers.  This is a saddle fitting nightmare.  Don't buy a horse like that!  Encore is fairly flat and short-coupled.  Saddle fitters love horses like him, lots of saddles can sit there nicely with relatively little effort.

In case you didn't figure out the nightmarish part yet, it's the fact that I bought saddles, especially my beautiful dressage saddle, to fit curvacious Solo, with obligingly scoopy tree.  That doesn't work so well with flat horse.  Naturally.

The jumping saddle wasn't too bad, we switched to the medium-narrow gullet (Encore's giant withers!) with the understanding that as he develops more, he will probably end up in the medium by spring (Solo was medium-wide, just for reference).  I'm not a fan of the changey gullet trees anymore, the tree points are so short, they made lots of pressure points on Solo, plus, we can't quite get the wither clearance we want, but it's what I have, the saddle fits me well, and it rides well, so I wanted to try and work it out.  I've just ordered an Ecogold half pad and we think it will provide enough lift and cushion to tide us over till his back develops enough to lift the saddle a bit more.  We think.  Only way to know is by doing, so once the box arrives, the moment of truth shall come!

My beautiful, wonderful dressage saddle that fits me perfectly?  It will probably need to be replaced at some point, but I'm not willing to let it go yet.  Not only does it fit me perfectly, I still need to ride Solo in something and he sure as shootin' isn't going in a medium-narrow jumping saddle, LOL!  So, I told fitter to see if she can buy me some time.

Turns out even time has a price.  $130 to be exact.  Apparently there is some worldwide sheep shortage that has driven up prices (I am not kidding, she actually told me this).  Perhaps I should invest in some Merino lambs?

At any rate, between flocking shifts and front and rear shims in our fancy new pad #2, we were able to flatten out the saddle enough that it no longer rocked on Encore's back and he was once again willing to lift and come round.

As my horse is now the proud owner of a small fortune's worth of saddle pads, I fully expect him have mastered at least the Beginner Novice dressage tests by the end of the week.  Since they also had a Herm Springer Duo bit (which I've been dying to try on Encore) on super bargain sale, I further expect extended gaits and shoulder-in by next Tuesday.  Little bugger better get cracking.  


  1. Years ago I moved from one 17h TB to another 17h TB and everyone said things like - at least you can use the same equipment. Could I? Nope. NOTHING fit both horses, nothing.
    It's some sort of Murphy's Law of riding. The kicker is when you sell equipment only to have the NEXT horse one that would have fit well into the sold stuff.

  2. It is so true -- you never need something more than right after you don't have it anymore!

    At least my bridles, boots, and pads have been interchangeable. The only things that don't fit...are the really expensive ones, of course!

    Looks like I will be adding more items to my fundraiser sale! Good thing I just found a few more things I can send on in my closet.

  3. I don't think it is a coincidence. I was wondering how the saddling thing was going to work for Encore. At least when you do go to buy saddles for him used ones should be easier to come by. Gotta love corrective pads to help through some issues. Can't wait to see all the new fact work with the new fancy equipment. Cause we all know that if we just throw money at them they immediately are wonferfuloy trainable beasts ;) if only!

  4. Yup, the minute you got Encore I thought, "hhhmmmmmmm, sure hope her saddles fit him, as well."

    Saddle fitting is SUCH a bitch! I'm currently selling both of my saddles, as neither fits Salem. The Pessoa is on e-bay for the second time and I have had ZERO offers (?!?!) and I haven't even put the Collegiate up for sale yet because I figure if the Pessoa hasn't sold, who is gonna buy an old Collegiate (that doesn't even SAY Collegiate because it had some kind of blemish)?

    Yes, saddle fitting makes me quite violent.

    Best of luck!

  5. I'm going through a saddle-fitting nightmare right now, too. It doesn't help that Squeaker has been sitting in a field for a year and has lost all her muscle. Wide, flat, round and mutton-withered anyone? And on a student budget! Good luck with your adjustments, and I hope he gets his little orange tush in gear to learn that test for you.....

  6. I always said that saddle shopping is a fun as shopping for a bathing suit. I bought brand new saddles for my first horse assuming that I would have him and the saddles for many years... Not true, had to euthanize him from an injury six months after buying him. None of his saddles fit Sugar... luckily I've now had all of them (saddles and horse) for seven years!

    Shame, I have two wool half pads with a rolled edge that I would have given you!

  7. Your descriptions of torture crack me up! I haven't had to go through saddle fitting torture yet. Is it sad that I'm kind of looking forward to it? But that's only b/c it will mean I finally have a horse to buy things for again!

  8. Oooh, I feel your pain. None of my (six? How did I end up with six?) saddles fit my new horse, who is apparently shaped just like Solo. I'm with Barbara, it's Murphy's Law or something. I hope your pads/shims/etc work out for a while!

  9. Six?! OMG, that is even worse!

    Frizz, you might have better luck with the Collegiate actually, depending on your price. Far easier to sell things for people on a budget, IME.

    Ok, squeaks, round and flat is hard, I feel for you!

    Suzanne, thanks for thinking of us! I have to have something I can shim though -- I have a sheepskin half pad but no shim pockets. I supposed I could have sewed something on, but it's a measure of how tired I am that I just handed over my credit card mutely...

  10. Haha, I was wondering about this.

    When I got Izzy, I found out that literally everything I owned was a half size too small. Everything.

    Bitch better stick around for a long ass time, if you know what I mean.

  11. I do believe that I shed more tears of frustration over saddle fit than any training issue that I have ever had with my horse. In fact, training is a breeze once the saddle fits (and I am only half joking).

    My QH was also very difficult to fit. Oh and more expensive does not equal better saddle or better fit. I learned that one the hard way. So did my wallet. That's what I get for NOT trying to cut corners. Hmmm. Saddle fit is definitely the devil's work.

  12. I definitely know what you mean, SB.

    Val, it's most certainly maddening. Saddle fitter is 40 minutes away so "a quick follow up" is not a real thing!

  13. No coincidence. None. You are on to something.
    I'm sure the only reason my saddle fit Hudson so well, was it was intended for another horse.

    Then I stupidly searched for a saddle fitter to replace the billets. A particularly bored rodent chewed nearly all the way through one, and most of another.

    I should have duct taped the saddle on. It never fit right again. One kabillion dollar correction pad later, it fits.

    I'm with Barbara on Murphy's Saddle Law. Within seconds of becoming Hudson's owner, the perfect saddle I owned was on the way to no longer fitting...

  14. *shudder* Saddle horror stories abound!

  15. That is why I have 8 (or is it 9) saddles. They all fit me . . . and that's not easy as my femur is, according to a trainer I rode with, "freakishly long." So I keep an assortment for the different horses that I have had, currently have, and will have. I also have two treeless saddles figuring they will fill any fitting gaps.

    I think of it as my "portfolio" of saddles!

  16. That is great, I do need a "portfolio" -- I suppose with two completely different shaped horses, I will be developing one. I have the same freaky femur problem, sigh.