Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saddle fitting! For the rider, not the horse...

I've been stressing over saddle fit. It's driving me crazy. I've been cruising ebay, checking craigslist, and sniffing around on Facebook.

Why this sudden focus on saddle fit? Mainly, it's because my current saddle doesn't fit me. As my riding gets better and I'm working harder, I've noticed that I'm fighting my saddle more and more to hold the right position. Not to mention the startling discovery I made while deep cleaning the damn thing last week; my 17.5" saddle is actually a 17" seat. Dear saddle, it's not your fault. We're just not made to be together. It's not you, it's me (or, actually, my long legs and not-inconspicuous behind).

To be completely fair, the saddle isn't 100% of a good fit for my horse, either. It's the oldest County saddle I (or my County rep!) have ever seen. All the identifying marks have pretty much rubbed off on it, so we really can't identify it. The fit over Guinness' withers and shoulders is the best I've seen, as is the clearance down his spine. However, it's extremely curvy, and doesn't follow the flatness of his back very well. That means it rocks slightly. A fluffy pad helps keep it stable, and neither myself nor my County rep have actually found any issues on Pig from the rocking. Interesting, no?

During my last lesson with Nancy, we talked a little bit about saddle fit and my position. She suggested buying foam and fashioning a makeshift thighblock, gluing it in place on my saddle. That sounds a little extreme, so instead I've been borrowing my barn owner's medium/narrow County Competitor. It's a newer model, with a bigger seat and hefty thighblocks. It also doesn't rock.

Check out the differences:
My (old-as-dirt) County saddle.
Newer County Saddle (borrowed)

Close up of borrowed County's fairly substantial thigh blocks.
Slightly awkward comparison photo, showing how my County has almost no thigh block to speak of.
Riding in the newer saddle hasn't made my position better overnight, and I actually find myself trying to creep my leg over the thigh block in an attempt to get back to the fetal position. However, the reminder to keep my leg down is helping, and having a thigh block to stabilize my leg allows me a little more freedom. Basically, I'm not fighting the saddle, and that makes everything just a touch easier.

Now if only I could unload the Xtra-wide County that's sitting in my dining room to finance my own saddle! (Anyone out there trying to find a saddle for a wider horse? This one is FABULOUS.)

** I've made a discovery in the last few weeks. Mainly, my horse is developing a real topline. Seriously, look at that lovely chunk of muscle just in front of his winsome withers (right where the reins drape over his neck). His shoulders no longer seem so outrageously huge, as his neck and back muscles have bulked up to make him look more proportional. I must be getting something right!
Omg! Topline! (Compare to photo above, which is from two years ago!)

2 comments:

  1. I know exactly what you mean! I have a 17.5 seat on my County and should have went with a 17. I also would go with larger thigh blocks, given the chance again. Coralie Hughes at Serenity Farms did have a Narrow/Medium maybe Perfection? for sale when we moved - not sure if still available. She did have it posted on the IDS website.

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  2. I've drooled over Coralie's old saddle, but the price on it was out of my range! I think she may have sold it, as I can't find the ad any longer.

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