After 5 years, I am feeling a bit like the chick in the kid’s book “Are you my mother?”
Overall, I have sat in a ridiculous numbers of saddles and researched a ridiculous number of saddles… and touched a ridiculous number of saddles. Sooo when Holly offered to let me try her saddle a few weeks ago I was… incredibly skeptical. After all, I wanted a monoflap and countys weren’t wide enough for my horse.
Well… the last time I had actually put a wide county on May was about 3 years ago. A time when May was not in much of a regular program. Also, I have no idea what model I put on her back… or how far forward I had it. So when we threw Holly’s saddle onto her back, I was more than a little surprised at how well it fit.
Well it didn’t matter how well it fit May because it definitely wouldn’t work for me. That flatter seat with the big HONKING blocks? I was a girl that had hated every saddle with big blocks that I had sat in. In fact, my first ride in Holly’s saddle wasn’t a total home run. The change in balance point had me doing weird things in the saddle.
But… it was the best thing I had to ride in. I changed my set up in terms of pads, girths, and stirrups… and suddenly found myself feeling pretty secure. (Turns out, big blocks aren’t so bad when they don’t interfere with where your leg should be.)
One small problem though. Or rather, a not small enough problem. My behind needed a slightly larger seat. So I set off to find one.
Initial finds were… beautiful… but not quite right. A basically brand new version with adjustable blocks? Gorgeous… but a low flap and a $4K price tag knocked that one out of contention.
Finally, I found one. An older saddle but with a few upgrades and without too much wear and tear for under $2K. I made an offer and then sat back and waited. Eventually, we negotiated down to a price I could pull the trigger on now and that the seller could feel good about. The seller confessed that the saddle hadn’t been used in a while, since she had a kid and stopped eventing. No worries!
The saddle showed up and… it smells like it has been sitting. It is stiff and the “nylon outside and fleece lined cover” turned out not to be a county cover. It need the flocking adjusted and the billets should probably be replaced before show season starts.
However, despite the cosmetic stuff, it is in great shape. The musty smell turned out to be that cover, which now has a new home covering lessons saddles. The stiff panels, while SQUEAKING LIKE THE DEVIL, show no signs of cracking. After an oil and a couple of rides, they are already softening up. (Although, I am seriously tempted to just ride in the thing in the rain and then oil accordingly.) The billets are stretched a bit, but they show no sign of cracking and are plenty secure. All things that are easy to fix and worth the work for the price I got this one for.
The color has deepened a bit with oil. But for me, the test was riding in it. Despite the noise (I had to get into 2 point to hear anyone while walking the first time I rode in it), the balance is incredible. The transition from 2 point to full seat and back is seamless, and I don’t feel myself being thrown back or forward at any point.
My biggest issue now? Unlearning the bad habits that formed in my old saddle. Number one? My habit of kicking my feet out in front of me at the base of a fence. Doing that now throws off my balance, where before that was the only thing keeping me in balance. Now, the name of the game is just letting my weight sink into my heels at the base. Easier said than done I guess.
Oh and… I need an entirely new set of muscles now that I am riding with my leg actually underneath me. Ugh.