Monday, March 19, 2018

A New Saddle

Since spring of 2016, I have hemmed and hawed about a new saddle for Q. While she may only be 14.1hh, she's got a huge trot stride more akin to a horse several hands taller. As we began to up our training in preparation for our attempt at the OD 100, maintaining that huge stride for miles over varied terrain during conditioning and endurance rides was resulting in girth galls around Q's armpit area.

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Very small horse, very big stride, note the girth right at her elbow
Becky Pearman Photography

A vet at the 2016 No Frills ride recommended a centerfire rigged saddle and thinner girth to provide greater freedom of movement through this area. I hadn't thought of that before, and agreed it was a good idea, but was hesitant to pursue any saddle change before the OD 100 which was coming up in a short 7 weeks. Ultimately, I played around with a few different girths and found a winning solution of a mohair girth with ample body glide application. This combination got us through the OD 100 with no issue.

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Small horse, large stride, take II
Becky Pearman Photography

Q had a lot of time off following that 100 and was ridden once before the 2016 RBTR LD where Austen competed her. I didn't fuss much with her tack for the LD because I knew that such a short ride wouldn't result in any major issues.

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Small horse, large stride, take III
Becky Pearman Photography

Shortly after the RBTR LD, Q came up lame, continued to be lame, and was diagnosed with lesions to her LH suspensory. She had a year off from work following the diagnosis, and when I did bring her back, we began with a western Abetta saddle to provide more security to me as I buckled down and dealt with resolving her spooking habit.

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The western Abetta we used late last summer through autumn

As I worked through rides last fall, I accepted that a treed saddle (as opposed to the treeless Ansur we'd been using for years), preferably with centerfire rigging, was in our future. However, knowing that I had no upcoming agenda for the mare, I wasn't in a hurry. But as all things go when you're not in a hurry, the perfect solution was promptly presented to me:



I resisted at first, my internal dialogue insisting how much I didn't need the saddle at that time. But as I thought about it more, I realized this was a really good deal and I'd be silly to pass it up! I knew Abetta would work for Q, even if only as an interim saddle; the size was correct for both myself and the horse; and the saddle was already rigged with the endurance upgrades I'd want to add myself. I slept on my decision and was pleased to see the Universe agreed with me in some regard as the saddle was still available. I fired off a message to Aurora, made the deal, and eagerly awaited the arrival of the saddle.

Since the saddle's arrival in late November, I've put in around a dozen rides with the saddle. Of these, two were flat rail trail rides, two were trail rides over terrain in the mountains, and the other rides were flat work at the barn. The trail rides sum ~45 miles and the flatwork sums a little more than 3 hours.

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The new saddle on the intended horse!
Not a pony club approved tying method, but she could also pull free and walk away at any point without injury so don't get your panties in a twist.

The time and miles in the saddle are minimal in the grand scheme of things, but the results so far have been great. Certainly, my approach to working with Q has been different during this time which accounts for a lot, but even with this consideration she's shown zero issue with regard to the fit of the saddle during this time. The quality of work she's offered me has been some of the best I've ever experienced in our almost 6 years together, too!

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Riding in the new saddle - the girth is hidden by the stirrup, but observe how much further back it is than photos earlier in this post and how much more freedom of motion she's gained through the elbow

Her spooking during this time has been very minimal, and I have not witnessed any other behaviors that are indicative of some sort of ill-fitting tack. The saddle has performed well on both the flat and on terrain with only a crupper and no breastplate (though I do plan to get a breastplate before the summer). Bonus? The fit of the saddle works great for me, too, with no more modifications necessary. I also love having a saddle with so many attachment points as opposed to my Ansur that had none (I MacGyvered them all).

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Totally enthused. ;-)

More time and miles are definitely needed before the verdict is final, as tack that works for short rides (<50 miles) very well may not suffice for endurance distances of 50 miles and greater. We'll see how rides go this spring and summer as our riding frequency hopefully increases, but things look quite promising and I'm really happy with the results so far!

28 comments:

  1. Looks like you found a pretty dang good solution! It's always nice when you stumble across a great deal on something you maybe weren't quite ready to look for yet, but the universe thinks otherwise 😂 I hope it continues to work well for you and Q!

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    1. One day I may have as much tack as you ;-)

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  2. oh man, NOTHING beats having the right tack. i love that it fits you both so well, and especially that it's such a flexible versatile saddle with so many attachment points!

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    1. My growing-older body appreciates all of the extra support this thing lends. I can't believe I got by so long without haha

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  3. Here's hoping the saddle works for your longer rides too!

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  4. glad you found a saddle that works for your special snowflake:) Even if not long term it looks like it fits better!!

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    1. She is the most special of snowflakes!

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  5. I really like the look of that saddle. I'm still trying to find a baroque saddle for Carmen and I.

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    1. Ohhhhhhh. Carmen will look so flashy in a baroque saddle!

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  6. Fingers crossed it works for the long rides too. Ive ridden in one of those, comfy, light, and agree tons of places to clip all the endurance paraphernalia.

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    1. So light! I freaking love how light it is. And I really like the amount of contact my leg has with her, too, despite the saddle having "more" to it than the Ansur.

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  7. Nice saddle. I had thought about doing a center fire rigged for Nilla as well, but never got around to it.

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    1. It was really daunting switching to a new system. I hemmed and hawed about what looked "right" for girth placement for awhile. I think we've got it down now.

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  8. I'm so glad you ended up with a treed saddle on that mare. You have balls of steel riding her for so long in what was basically a bareback pad with stirrups! I imagine the increased stability for the both of you feels like a godsend!

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    1. Yeah - really not sure how I survived as long as I did on that horse with that saddle. Still really like that saddle, but definitely appreciate the benefits of a tree!!!

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  9. That saddle looks really good on her and the fit looks perfect for you both. Yay for finding a great saddle at a great price!!

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    1. A really great price - especially with the upgrades! I see why so many endurance riders have a saddle similar to this - it's really freaking awesome.

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  10. she is sooo cute - what a big step! its crazy how you can create so much more 'room' for them to move with the right setup.

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    1. So much more room to move! And while this solution seems obvious to me now, I needed the years of learning through the other setup to get to this place.

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  11. Yay! The right tack is so important. I hope that saddle keeps working for you!

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    1. Me, too! It's crazy how the right tack evolves over time.

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  12. I really feel my saddle is my home, and I think everyone should feel that way too, so here's hoping this saddle is the one!

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    1. Oh, I love thinking about it that way!

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  14. Nice find, and even better that is has been working super well for everyone involved! Q is looking good- I can't wait to see what 2018 has in store for you both (:

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