|I was continuing my Harry Potter reread the other day and Penny decided she wanted an up close and personal snuggle.|
|Penn and his new "cheap" blanket. The Mio Lite Turnout Sheet from Dover. Nomming happily in his stall.|
Husband was away for the weekend on a camera trip with some friends, so I went to the tack shop! Ha! I called my mom and asked her to go with me so that I wouldn't take any saddles home. She was like, "Deal!" The local tack shop has a saddle room upstairs that has probably over 150 saddles in stock (dressage, jump, western). She does a lot of saddle business, both used and new, and I sent 5 of my saddles there on consignment (I know, saddle hoarding problem) and they all sold quickly and in the time frame allowed (3 months while my Jaguar was being made). I had priced them to sell, but still. They all went and I didn't have to sell any to her directly!
I went up there bright and early so I could catch her before anyone else roped her into their saddle fitting adventures. I told her about Penn, what didn't work, and what I'm currently riding him in (Pessoa's XCH Forward Flap XC Saddle on the X-Wide tree). She just about had laughing fits about me flatting and doing dressage in that saddle, haha. She knows it well, and doesn't restock it anymore because she doesn't get many people that are long enough hip to knee to need that forward flap.
I sat in about 20 dressage saddles, and we set aside 5-7 to revisit again. I eventually settled on these two (thanks mom, you didn't stop me from taking some home... and you let me take 2!!! love you!)
M Toulouse Wilamina Pro Series Dressage Saddle
Stubben 1894 Dressage Saddle
I was surprised to like sitting in the Toulouse. I can't stand the leather quality. They made a new Professional Series saddle that has soft flexible flaps, which were super nice actually. It's still poorly made (glue smeared across the bottom flap from where they preglued it before stitching it), and the leather still looked a bit beat up for the saddle being new (no "new saddle" gloss). The saddle has an exposed block (hate) but it hit me well (unfortunately liked). It also has shoulder cut outs on the front panels (yay for Penn!) and comes in the Genesis tree. The tree is neat- it can be adjusted by the millimeter instead of using plates. We all agreed that it would probably work very nicely for Penn and his changing back.
The Stubben was more a "I loved sitting in it" type thing. It's on loan from her Stubben rep, and I'm super interested in the Stubben Euphoria, so I wanted to sit in this one just for funsies and it became a "hmm, this is super comfy!" Plus it was so pretty! It has some patent leather, teehee! I guess I'm not so conservative anymore! The tree is the B tree, which is basically their MW, which would be fine for comparison to Penn's back. Basically, the 1894 model is a stripped down, no frills model to get into a lower price range (under $2k). We chatted about the Euphoria too. I had asked a week or so ago if she could try to get one in and she said sure. Fast forward to this weekend when I saw her and she said there is one wide tree test ride Euphoria in the country right now, and it's in CA and that rep is NOT giving it up. Those saddles are selling like hotcakes apparently. She was debating ordering one in the size I needed and if it didn't work out, she'd keep it just to have it in stock! Very thoughtful of her :-) She said another shipment of them is coming into the country this week, and she's going to try to get her hands on one of those.
Anywho, so off I went to the barn. I tried the Stubben first because I was dying to sit in it. People had commented that I set the Amerigo too far up on his shoulder, so I REALLY tried to keep that in mind when I tried these saddles. It's a habit I have from Trainer, sorry! I'm always paranoid that I'm going to be sitting it too far back and I'll do damage to his kidneys.
|So thrilled to have saddles on and off him again.|
|It looked much better balanced when I girthed it up.|
My tack shop is awesome and has approved, prewrapped stirrups that can be borrowed for saddle trials. Love.
I opted to try it with the half pad only because, realistically, I will use a half pad with my saddle. Partially because it's habit. Partially because both he and Mikey enjoyed having the fleece direct on their backs instead of the saddle pad (obviously not how I've set it up here). Partially because I just plain like it. I know, if the saddle truly fits, the half pad will make the fit worse and it won't help at all, blah blah. Just give me this one, ok?
|Photo fail. He's so good about standing where I leave him. Except when I'm trying to get a picture of him. Urgh! Haha.|
The first thing that became super obvious was how he connected himself to the bridle. I took up contact and added leg, and he said, "Yes ma'am! I live here!" Connected, through, light in the hand. Underlying tension for sure though. I asked for some trot work and he stayed connected, but then started hiding behind the bit, which made me nervous because I'd add leg and he wouldn't move off as promptly as I'd like. I couldn't tell if a) he was just nervous, b) being off all week had messed with him and maybe he was feeling a little naughty, c) he actually liked the saddle and was waiting for it to bite him.
I spent some time in walk, and he offered me a lovely stretch. I have never been able to get him to stretch to the bit. He's always held himself up and has been reluctant to truly seek the bit out and stretch through his topline and neck. We'd encouraged it of course, and he'd give a couple steps before going giraffe. I figured it's a learning curve and that would be where he might be weakest. Nope, he offered me half of what I would like for a free walk. Not good enough for the ring, but quite a bit of progress from where we were last time I actively worked on it.
I went back to trot and he had that same tight feeling, yet he was still so loose under me. No rush, no hurry, no tempo problems. Hard to describe. He gave me a smidge of stretch in trot and then reverted to hiding behind the bit and then the incessant chomping begin.
Chomp chomp chomp chomp on the bit. Over and over and over. I was panicking. What happened to my lovely cooperative relaxed horse?! This was not his usual behavior. Maybe I was riding differently because of the saddle? Maybe he hated it? Maybe it was just a bad day?
I decided to end the test ride of that saddle. Back to the barn to try the Toulouse.
I didn't even bother trying to ride in it. I hated how it looked in general, and then it just didn't sit right. Instead, I put his jump tack on and took him back to the outdoor, ready to push him forward and out of that curling BS. Only he didn't do it. He was happy as a clam to giraffe his way around the arena and be quick and heavy in my hand when he wasn't giraffing. Walk, trot, canter, no big deal. ??????
|"Mom, every time you do something like this to me, I die a little inside."|
|No worries Penn. Mikey felt the same way.|
Penn was great. Looking for the bit, stretching, relaxed, good tempo that I didn't have to monitor 110% of the time. A very good basic Intro/Training level horse. Nothing fancy, and when he stretched he tended to fall on the forehand, but that's just training. Mikey did too when he learned. A commented on how lovely he looked. I cantered him around and he was great. I think he really likes that saddle. I'm sure a 45 min walking warm up didn't hurt either, but he had all of the lovely from the previous day with none of the hiding or chomping.
I have a lesson tonight, and I'll bring the saddle for Trainer's evaluation, plus some peeks at the left lead canter and why it's been such a fail.
If everything goes well, I'm going to ask the tack shop to order me the 1894 in an 18" seat (she may be able to get one immediately from the Stubben rep). This one was a 17.5" and the thigh blocks didn't hit me just right, and I think the extra half inch will do it. I'm also going to ask them if they'd be willing to order a Euphoria in the 18.5" B tree, only since she was considering ordering one just to have anyway. Then I'd pick one when they came in. The Euphoria had shoulder cut outs and what looks like slightly smaller thigh blocks, which are the only reasons I'm still interested in it.
Penn had a little bit of a meltdown in the crossties when I was putting everything away Sunday. He'd been super quiet, but all of a sudden he freaked and backed until he hit the end of the ties. I got him to step forward and unhooked him (no reason to remind him that he can break them), and he just became super dumb and spooky. A and I were both like, wth? When he freaked out I had been putting my boots back in their bag, and I offered him a boot to sniff and he just wanted none of it. No idea baby horse. At that point, I just wanted him not to leave the barn!
I did manage to get Mikey's BOT Mesh sheet out and tried on Penn. It's a 78" and doesn't fit him that poorly. A hair long, but not enough to make me want a smaller size. When I'm ready to order the quartersheet I mentioned in my last post, I'll get the 78". I figure if they said to order the same size as the horse's blanket size, and their own size 78 doesn't look horrible on him, so a 78 in the quartersheet shouldn't either.
|Ignore the lead rope wrapped up funny and on the ground. He ground ties very well 90% of the time. It was actually super helpful having it over his poll when he tried to leave the barn and the poll pressure kept him from rearing.|