I haven’t written much about dressage since the show season, but some interesting things have been happening with Stanley lately. Rear shoeing (with wedges) has allowed him to muscle out in the hind quarters and whither area significantly. So much so, that the Prestige saddle no longer fits and we are faced with another expensive choice with horses.
Last week the saddle fitter was in and reviewed all the saddles we have….conclusion….none will work. Two have user adjustable trees, so I was more than disappointed to find out that neither of those would do. The Bates can’t be flocked, so it won’t fit the back, and the Klimke didn’t put me in the correct position. The Prestige doesn’t have an adjustable tree and would cost more than the saddle is worth to have the tree shape changed. So we moved into new saddle territory.
Lot’s to learn about saddle fit. Of course there’s the basics, the tree and flocking have to fit the horse. What wasn’t as obvious prior to this experience is that the fitter takes orthogonal measurements along the horses back and then dials in both the tree and flocking to match those measurements. As the horse’s back changes, the saddle can be refit and the measurements over time are kept for reference. One of the major differences between the Custom brand saddle and the user adjustable saddles we had prior is in the length of the tree. The fitter described why user adjustable tree lengths are short because fitting a long tree universally is nearly impossible to do. The added length a professional tree helps in saddle stability and load distribution. Custom flocking to evenly distribute weight over the length of the back makes sense too and has never been correct in our previous saddles. Stanley is a tough fit that way.
Then there’s fitting the human. I always thought length was the only consideration (especially important for men), but this is where I was most surprised. Every saddle we tried from Custom had a unique design (twist, knee blocks, damping, cantel/pommel height etc) and they where hugely different even for a novice rider like me. After trying a half dozen different ones, we narrowed the decision down to two saddles — both were comfortable, put me in the center of the saddle while posting, and gave a good leg position. One saddle was slightly less constraining and slightly more comfortable but the other always set me centered during the sitting trot. I tried both again during the week and ultimately chose the more constrained saddle. And here’s the winner, a Custom Icon-Elipse. Notice the high pommel.
Now we need to sell the other 3 to pay for it Nothing that ‘the enforcer’ can’t handle. By the way, that name needs to change. From here out it shall be ‘professional shopper’ – a nick name that was given to her by a former trainer’s spouse. Who can argue with that.