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We Are Flying Solo

September 23, 2009

How To Make A Nun Cuss

Tell her to fit a saddle to a horse and rider.

It'll work, I promise.

As I mentioned, after the failure of SF#1 to satisfy, I moved on to the saddle shopping phase. And let me tell you how much fun THAT was. I needed to keep it less than $1500. But it had to fit my freaky long thighs, Solo's big rib cage, be flocked with wool, be 18" and well-made. Doesn't seem to hard, does it? WRONG. Might as well have searched for the Holy Grail (We've already got one!).

Everything was too big, too small, too narrow, too expensive, flocked with foam or air (a big NO, I wanted adjustable!), too crappy, too deep-seated, didn't fit my was like being freaking Goldilocks.

Well, I finally found something that met all my criteria after about a month of pulling my hair out and ordered a Collegiate Convertible Diploma. Took it to (highly recommended and locally very well known) SF#2. He poked and prodded my horse, digging his fingers in everywhere, making tracings and pronounced my horse very sore but fixable. He sounded like he knew what he was talking about and everyone used him so he must be good, right? He added point billets and a crupper bar, took out lumpy factory wool and put in some new stuff and sent us off.

Right off the bat, it fit much better and Solo MOVED much better. Aha! I thought, Our problems are over!

Then after a couple weeks, it started listing to the right. Bad. So we went back, SF#2 fixed it up. Only now when we went home, Solo was resisting lifting his back. SF#2 came out to farm and did a group of horses and fixed ours again. This time, Solo got even more resistant and then came the death knell -- he developed dreaded White Spots behind his withers on either side.

To make things even more obviously wrong, two friends' horses developed the same symptom at the same time. Both had been worked on by SF#2 as well.

So I called, left a terse voicemail and never went back. $400 and three visits later, the saddle fit worse than it did off the shelf.

Then I called SF#3. She came up to the farm, flipped my saddle over and showed me obvious unevenness in the panels. She then showed me how the point billets had only been forcing the metal parts of the tree down into Solo's poor back and generally doing more harm than good.


Point billets removed. Wool reflocked. Saddle rebalanced. And OMG, now my horse could lift his back without being punished by the saddle.

Good thing I'm not a nun.


  1. This had not been a good stroll down memory lane. My horse still has a small white spot on one his whithers as a testimony to this dark time. I like to pretend it is a birdcatcher spot.

  2. Saddlefitting is the worst!!!Like I said before, we are still working on finding saddles for our boys. Doesn't help that I'm in grad school & we're utterly broke with no time to ride, so it's not been a priority. I think we're gonna try Thorowgoods. What do you think...I'm a little paranoid that a white spot on Mosco's shoulder is from poor saddle fit, but he's prone to Birdcatcher spots & random roaning, so I've been telling myself it's that (which it probably is, in all reality). It's only on one side. Paranoid horse mother much?!

  3. LOL, Jen, what horse nut is NOT paranoid? If it's only on one side, I would probably talk myself into birdcatcher...

  4. Apologies for visiting the more shadowy haunts on memory lane. At least this particular pocket of darkness was illuminated by a flashlight before all hope was lost.

  5. I hate to say it, but sometimes it's almost good to hear about other people's trials & travails with their horses. When you hear only the good stuff it makes you feel like the worst horse parent in the world! Plus then I know better than to trust the first saddle fitter who sounds like they know what they're doing! Sometimes you just gotta love horses' forgiving natures...if I were my horse I would have broken up with me by now

  6. LOL, Jen, I love that. I feel the same way -- that there is always something to learn from each experience. We all learn the hard way (or at least I do!) that just because someone says something confidently does not mean it's true. (Although if my co-workers ever figure this out, my credibility is shot!)

  7. So I decided to go back and search for saddle fitting on "oh wise one's" blog. (Oh wise one is you btw :)lol. I am glad I did. I wish there was a saddle fitter near me. We are in the process of trying to get one up here from TN. I am glad to hear I am not the only one that has to go through this awful torcher.

  8. It is indeed torture, Amy. In fact, I still struggle with that particular saddle (and I'm now on Saddle Fitter #4, btw). Last time SF#4 was out, I sighed to her that it sure would be nice to have a normal shaped horse so this would be easier. She said that such a thing does not exist. So I guess we all have to suffer.