Monday, October 12, 2015

More Saddles!

I was continuing my Harry Potter reread the other day and Penny decided she wanted an up close and personal snuggle.
Penn had quite the adventure two weekends ago- a little hunter show and a hunter pace. And it showed. He was TIRED, so he enjoyed a week off. I did take him for a quiet walk Wednesday and he was happy to go out for a ride, but his butt was still a little tired.

Penn and his new "cheap" blanket. The Mio Lite Turnout Sheet from Dover. Nomming happily in his stall.
Also: Muscles!!!
It was just as well that he was on vacation. I wanted some time away from the barn to do normal life things. Like get my hair cut and clean the house.

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.
I thought the front to back balance was a little off- the cantle was a bit low for my liking, but definitely not bad or terrible. Just a hair low.

This part fit quite nicely actually. Maybe a hair low.
I like that the D rings are set above the skirt and not under it. All the better to attach my grab strap for extended trots.
I just noticed that huge screw right on the front of the saddle. Umm, weird?
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.
I took him down to the outdoor, and I don't know if it was the construction going on (a lean to for tractors and farm equipment) or what got up his butt, but he was just nervous.

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.

Looks balanced front to back, maybe a little low in the front, however it just didn't sit right on him. He barely had any spine clearance, and the shoulder cut outs didn't go far enough back to make a real difference, so if I tightened the tree it would have squeezed his shoulder.
I took some pics of the front, but they didn't turn out well. The afternoon sun really didn't help.

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. ??????

Sunday was beautiful. I went on my weekly trail ride date with A, fully decked out in orange. Archery season started last weekend, and while it's Sunday and we're on private property, we're far enough out in the country that less conscientious hunters may be out anyway. The barn owner said she's been out on the trails, come across hunters and told them to leave because it's private property, and they've said "Oh, we got permission from the land owner." and she goes, "Really? I don't remember giving you, or ANYONE permission to hunt on my property."

"Mom, every time you do something like this to me, I die a little inside."
No worries Penn. Mikey felt the same way.
We had a lovely gentle walk, and then I asked A if she'd mind coming with me down to the outdoor, and if before we do that if I could do a quick saddle swap to the Stubben. She said sure. She hadn't been down to the outdoor in ages and said she'll trot Leader around a little. He's quite the spry guy for a 22 yr old OTTB with Cushings! He still jigs when he knows we're going home!

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.


  1. Handsome silly boy! He looks good in the orange! Fingers crossed that one of those pretty saddles works for you and him as well.

    1. I tried to tell him he looked good in Orange! He didn't believe me. We had a great lesson tonight with the Stubben!

  2. I hope that the Stubben works out for you! You'd think that if the Euphoria is selling so well, it wouldn't be a problem to order one. Hopefully they'll do that for you. I'd like to try one out myself. :)

  3. good luck with the stubben!!! my fingers are crossed that you find something perfect soon :D