Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Saddle Fitting Sucks (but other things are awesome!)

After observing some ever worsening changes in the way my dressage saddle is fitting Guinness,I had the saddle fitter out to look at my old, old, OLD County saddle (I'd like to tell you how old it is, but the County rep couldn't actually find the year stamp on it anywhere. It's a mystery, even to the makers ...).

The rep was nice, and pointed out how my saddle has a slight rock and that the weight bearing is much more focused in it (due to the age and style) than a newer one would be. Um ... okay. She told me she could maybe work on it some, but that it wouldn't change it much. Okay ... Then she asked if we could ride in it, and then try some other saddles to see if they made a difference in me or the horse. That sounded reasonable ....

Guinness was a complete terror the whole time. He refused to stand still, screaming repeatedly for the mares in his pasture. Every touch to his sides or legs resulted in kicking, as did every fly that flew near him. His dancing and constant pooping only stopped long enough for him to pee in the crossties (something he'd only done twice prior to this!). I was mortified. My normally dependable, mannered gelding was acting like a boss mare in heat. His behavior has been on a downward spiral since being turned out in this group of mares, but this was intolerable. The bad behavior continued under saddle where he called repeatedly and bucked HARD for the first 15 min. I don't think I could have held things together if there weren't other people there.

One and half hours later (in 90 degree heat!) Guinness and I were dripping in sweat. We had tried five saddles, and I hadn't felt a difference in any of them but one, and that difference hadn't been terribly noticeable. The seats were certainly more comfortable for me (but so is sitting on a slab of concrete!). Guinness had finally worked through his issues and was traveling nicely, and focused on me again. I wasn't feeling like murdering him so much, but also wasn't enjoying being sold to by the rep.

I asked the rep again what we could do for my saddle. She told me that the saddle as currently configured and padded isn't doing any harm to my horse. "He moves more freely with the other ones, but this one isn't causing any pain or rubs. It does rock slightly, but that is the style of the saddle, and you have it padded securely." That was enough for me. Thanks!

The price of the saddle she wanted me to buy? $4,500.00.

As the rep packed up, I patted Guinness on the neck.

"That saddle costs more than you did, dear."

He was too tired to respond.

Saddle, shimmed up with a different shim. That one was much too large. Guinness, staring at his field full of ladies ... 

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