Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New saddle!

So one of the problems at Rides of March (aside from my malaise) was that Dixie's saddle wasn't fitting her quite right anymore. All the hill work we did at the beginning of the year really filled her back out and she got too wide for the saddle. I was pretty sure I needed a new saddle, but I didn't want to buy one right before (trying) a 50. After 35 miles at ROM, her back was tender, so after I got home and recovered I got a Specialized.

It (finally) came yesterday evening, so today I dragged it out to the barn and tried it on. I think it'll work just fine. Mine's used, and it came with 1/2" pads, the thinnest they sell. I ordered the standard 3/4" pads and they'll (finally!) show up tomorrow, so I'll probably swap them out.

Right side:

Left side:

Left side fits pretty good at the shoulder.

Here's her back, it looks like the right side is less developed, and that's the side that gapped the most.  If I was a better photographer/blogger I'd have pulled her mane out of the way, but alas, I am what I am.

Right side.  Did you know it's hard to take pictures of the shadow cast by a black saddle on a white horse?  It's true!  It's really hard!  Trust me, there's a big hole there where I could easily stick a couple fingers.  I shimmed it and moved on.

Had to go buy a pad and girth, and then jury-rig a loop to hook the breastcollar on to the stupid English girth.  (Who doesn't ride with a breastcollar?  What is wrong with you, girth manufacturers?)

Dirt marks in lieu of sweat marks.

So I got on and off about five times, fiddling with stuff.  I thought very hard about which way the stirrups face and carefully installed them.  Then I led her to the mounting block and realized they were backwards.  I fixed that, then the leathers were too long, then I took the crupper apart to get a loop of biothane to make a breastcollar loop for the girth, then, finally, eventually, I went for a short test ride.

It wants me to sit up straight!  It's very much an English saddle stripped down for endurance.  My old saddle was a western saddle stripped down for endurance, so it's different.  But not, I think, bad.  We went in the arena and Dixie saw a monster (a person walking her dog) on the trail above the arena and bucked.  All four feet off the ground at once, a real buck.  I felt pretty secure and didn't move in the saddle, and I just yanked her head around and yelled.  (Somehow I managed to not scream obscenities at her.  Yall, it's really hard being around civilized people all the time.)

Anyway that was no fun, and I didn't feel up to riding it out on a fresh horse in a new saddle, so we went up on the short trail loop.  She felt really good.  She did most of the loop at a running walk, but we picked up a canter for one short bit.  She was moving really nicely under me, with a super sproingy collected canter.

Tomorrow I'll go do the long 15 mile loop, maybe with an extra hill climb or two, and see how I feel about the saddle and how she feels after some real work.  Maybe that'll take the edge off her and I'll take her in the damn arena and see if I can get ten minutes with no bucking.  This bucking bullshit has to stop.


  1. Lucky you to get a new saddle! It look very, very comfy, both for you and Dixie. I'll bet you'll be a bit muscle sore after your first long ride. :)

    I would bet you ride a bit heavier on the right. That would explain the uneven muscling on the left (she's overcompensating for the heaviness on the right by using her left side more to keep herself balanced), which you can see on the saddle pad, too (heavier dirt on the right than the left). They do make english style girths with d-ring attachments for breastcollars, etc...but they can be spendy. All my english breastcollars have a little loop on the end that you just slide the girth through to attach.

    1. I have no doubt that I'm an unbalanced rider, and I don't know the right way to teach her to supple up on both sides, etc. But she was far dirtier on the right where she nailed a big pile of manure! ;)

      Can't wait to see the sweat marks from the real ride tomorrow. And I'm ordering a little biothane D-ring loop that slips over the girth!

  2. I hope this saddle works out perfectly for you. There's nothing like having a saddle that you and your horse both love.

    Oh, and I gave up on putting stuff together correctly the first time a while ago... mecate reins, spur straps, stirrup irons... no matter how hard I try and how much I think about which way they should go, I always put them on wrong the first time. I'm glad I'm not the only one! LOL

  3. Yay for finding an attachment! I've made my own in the past, just out of a bit of leather and a buckle. Works in a pinch but probably wouldn't work on your longer rides (rubs, etc.)

    Teaching suppling for both sides...dressage. :) And circles, which is kind of counter productive since I don't think you do a lot of circles on endurance rides.

  4. It's so tiny!!!!!! Agreed - bucking BS has to stop.......the dirt pattern looks pretty good. I need to actually wash one of my white pads and do this with my saddles PRIOR to going on a 50 miler this spring.

  5. When I was fitting the saddle, I resolved to No Really, Seriously, talk to the dressage trainer at the barn. Then I got on and rode her into the arena, turned around at the end, and she bucked like a damn bronco. I think I have to get her going w/t/c AGAIN in the arena. Just gotta break this stupid cycle she's gotten into...

  6. Yay, new saddle!! It looks good on her. Bucking BS = Spring Fever? Or just feeling too overenthusiastic for her own good?

  7. I like the look of that saddle - hope it works out well. Is it comfortable for you? Spent a few summers riding in Australian endurance saddles (that's what they called them anyway) when I worked at the trail barn - rock hard, slippery and heavy.

    1. This is the opposite of an Aussie ;) I rode in an Aussie a few times and hated it - rock hard, slippery, and TOO PADDED - it put me a good 4" higher off the horse's back than I was used to! This feels very close to the horse, in my seat and in my legs. And the seat is memory-foam padded leather, and it's replaceable!

  8. I'm definitely lopsided, and it's taking the combined effort of dressage trainer, human chiropractor, equine chiropractor, and nagging co-workers to get me going straight again--I feel your pain!!!!

    Girth loop thingy: I used a piece of baling twine for YEARS. Finally spent $8 and bought a real biothane loop with a d-ring. Duh. That took too long.

    Glad you've got a saddle!!!!!

  9. I am sure that I have sounded very uncivilized lately. Especially to people here in the South. We'll just blame it on the baby, m'kay? But yes! I know what you mean!

    Your saddle looks lovely! Can't wait to hear what you think of it down the road a bit.

  10. Saddle envy! I can't wait to hear more about your opinions of this saddle. I was ogling them online not too long ago. I think in future years (unless something transpires that I need a new saddle sooner [yipeys]) one of these may be in my future.

    SUPER excited for you!

    And yes, agreed, bucking BS needs to end. Silly mare!

  11. you are going to love this saddle.. then you are going to have to sit in some other saddle someday and thank the saddle gods for the Specialized..I do everyday.

    One thing to watch for where I ran into issues with Maggie last year. As she got fitter, I had to get thicker pads because it was squishing down too much under where I sit and it sored her up. I went up to the 3/4' panels and so far this season, they are still working. I haven't had to switch to her "fat" pads..

  12. My favorite was the Trailmaster/Specalized. Do some fast work in it to be sure your legs stay under you rather than fall behind your seat. Some of these saddles work best for taller/shorter riders etc. The bucking? A sharp/Hard hit on her barrel will have her suck-up & re-think a buck.

  13. Fun, new saddle! I do love how the Specialized you can play around with the shims and such. They didn't fit me very well, but I know lots of people are happy with them. It looks so cute and tiny, until you start to attach all the stuff you need onto it!

    And I have 2 english girths with a ring for the breast collar, so it may have just been the one you got. Of course, I'm one of "those" that doesn't ride with one, haven't needed it!

  14. I'm glad that you have a nice new saddle. I've been out looking for a new saddle too - it takes time to find the right one, but it's satisfying to succeed. Yours looks great.

    I was surprised at how secure on the horse a well fitting saddle is. The lady I ordered mine from insists that correct fit means that breastplates and cruppers are redundant. You might not agree. I know that we don't have mountains like yours over here.

  15. That's An Interesting Saddle!

    Looks Like A Crossover
    I Like The Way It Looks On Her Shoulders. The Black Is Nice Too.
    I'm Sure It'll Take Time To Get Used To, Maybe For The Both Of You. It Looks To Sit Close To The Back , Hence The Wider Twist.



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