When we last left off on this saddle search adventure, I had tried a Stubben Maestoso that fit Kachina but not me, so then I got a trial of a larger Schleese saddle...
|Stubben Maestoso in background, Schleese Link in foreground|
as you can see, they are very differently shaped saddles
First off, can I say how ridiculously exciting it is to get a parcel containing a saddle sent to you?! Even if it was just a trial :-)
My next order of business was to try and find my spare set of stirrups so I could do a back to back comparison of two saddles without having to take the time to switch stirrups. That ended up being a lot longer job than expected. I opened up my spare bin of tack and horse stuff in the garage to find that a bottle of show sheen had exploded over everything. Not only were all my shipping boots etc. in need of a good washing, but the moisture trapped in a closed container had caused my spare bridles to go super moldy! I've heard of mold and mildew on tack before, but I live in such a dry area that it's never ever been an issue for me. I was shocked and disgusted by the fuzzy grey sight I was faced with. So anyways, a quick look ended up being a couple hours of sorting, cleaning and disposing of horse stuff. After all of that, my spare stirrups weren't even in that bin! I still have no idea where they got to.
It's been ridiculously rainy here, so before I took it out to the barn, I tried it out at my house by putting it onto an overturned rain barrel (every rider needs one!). The first thing I noticed was how high the pommel sat above the barrel. I had been told by the salespeople that this saddle was currently adjusted to be quite narrow, but this really showed how narrow it really was.
The fact that the pommel was sitting so high off the barrel meant that the saddle balance was off and the pommel was actually higher than the cantle. I experimented with putting various "riser pads" (patio cushions) under the back of the saddle to even it up. By sitting in the saddle in different arrangements on the barrel, I could see how much a small change in saddle position could effect how it felt to sit in it. This is part of what makes saddle shopping so difficult. The way a saddle feels on a block or on one horse might feel totally different from how it feels on a differently shaped back. Also, it's really hard to know if a not quite right for the rider saddle fit can be fixed with some minor shimming or re-flocking or not.
|Before shimming, pommel too high|
Anyways, general verdict from playing around at home was that I was decently happy with how the saddle fit me (though it wasn't the angels singing kind of magic that Schleese seems to want you to believe), but I was less confident about how it would work on Kachina.
|You can feel the displeasure oozing out of Kachina that she has to stand|
while I take pictures and mess around with different saddles
Sure enough, when I did get out to the barn to try it on Kachina, it was a horrible fit. The saddle was too narrow, but I knew that could be adjusted if needed. The bigger issue was the back of the saddle. It was like the saddle just rested on top of her back instead of going around it. There was one point where I had the saddle girthed up and Kachina started pawing; each time she pawed, the whole back half of the saddle would wag back and forth over her spine. Another problem was how the panels got thicker near the shoulder. I'm sure it's a purposeful design, but it didn't look like they would sit well on Kachina even if the tree was widened. I had hoped that the saddle would fit well enough where I could at least put on a half pad and do a short ride to see if I liked the feel and whether it was worth looking into other Schleese saddles. However, the fit was so bad that I didn't feel comfortable mounting up at all.
|I think these photos pretty much speak for themselves|
With that, the Schleese went back and the search continued. I was about to say I was back at square one for the saddle search, but that's not really true. Every saddle I look at gives me more information about what does and doesn't work for me and Kachina. It's a pain doing multiple saddle trials, especially from a different city, but eventually I'll narrow down what we need *here's hoping the answer isn't something new, custom, and $$$$!*
Hopefully you can find something that is closer to what you guys need. It is so hard to shop for saddles because everything is so personal.ReplyDelete
Agreed. It seems like there's no easy solution other than to just sit in lots of saddles and find what works.Delete
Darn! I was cheering for the Schleese, I love them! I know a lot of girls who love county and cwd dressage saddles (which are a lot of $$). Fingers crossed the right saddle shows up soon! Can I just warn you not to buy a DK? I had a horrible experience with them. There are a few saddles on the albertadressage.com website classified section :)ReplyDelete
I was really hoping the Schleese would work out too, it was a steal of a deal for that kind of saddle!Delete
Warnings are welcomed. As are positive experiences :)
I've checked out the albertadressage classifieds in the past. There never seems to be many options and they are frequently priced high, but thanks for the suggestions, I will continue to check periodically.
It looks like the panels on the Schleese would go better on a horse with a curvier back - I have the same problem with my guys. You might want to check out a Custom, as those seem to work well for slightly flatter-backed horses. I also have a used 18.5 Borne dressage saddle (fits Brego) that might work for you and Kachina both. PM me if you'd like more info!ReplyDelete
That's the confusing part though, Kachina does have a pretty curvy back. The Jaguar and Stubben that fit her were both curvy trees. This Schleese was supposed to actually have a flatter tree, so I have no idea why it sat on her so badly.Delete
I'm afraid I'm not sure how to PM (?). I'd imagine your Borne is pretty wide if it fits a Brego? What width is it? I'm potentially interested, but Kachina seems to be a medium to medium-wide, it was just that this was extra-extra narrow!
jen jobst at gmail dot com.Delete
Brego's saddle is XW, so it's probably too wide for Kachina. Bummer!
Thanks Jen, I don't think an XW would fly, but I appreciate the info. Luckily I found a saddle that does fit! Good luck with selling yours.Delete
People complain about fitting the high-withered narrow horses, but I think the flat-backed ones are much more difficult! A friend with a broad-backed QH/Welsh cross ended up with a Kent saddle that she's very happy with, so there's another to put on your list, haha! :PReplyDelete
That's the thing though, I think Kachina falls more into the first category! She has very prominent withers and has a fairly curvy back. I think of her as narrow since her barrel and whole body isn't very wide (she only takes a size 72 blanket), but I'm learning that doesn't mean her saddle angle is as narrow as I thought (The Stubben that fit her was a 31cm tree, so MWish).Delete
Actually, as you have a fair bit of experience with the tack world and saddle trials, would you mind looking back on a confo shot of Kachina and tell me how you would classify her shape? (some decent photos at https://autonomousdressage.blogspot.ca/2016/03/guess-breed.html) I'd appreciate the second opinion!
Yup. Every data point is a learning experience. You'll find the right one eventually. :-)ReplyDelete
Thanks, I hope so!Delete
I feel your pain. Short backed, curvy backed horses are no fun to saddle fit when you need a larger saddle for yourself. My magical Crosby fits the description you are looking for and I think there is a wider one for sale on FB (English Horse Tack For Sale in Alberta).ReplyDelete
Also, one thing to consider with her having a shorter back, gusseted panels may not work very well since they are designed to spread the pressure out over a greater area they stick out further back.
Hey, that was one FB tack group that I wasn't part of, thanks for the tip!Delete
Also, I had to look up what exactly gusseted panels meant, but yes, another very good point.
Saddle shopping sucks, but yes, every trial is a chance to learn something. I would highly recommend sending tracings in to a saddle shop and getting their opinion.ReplyDelete
That was a suggestion I was going to use in a future step of the saddle hunt... luckily I didn't need to go that far :)Delete