I live in an area where horse keeping isn't THAT expensive because (fun fact!) we have lots of space and almost no amenities. So that's awesome. I've learned the mechanics of how a saddle should fit through trial, error, and picky horses, but I have never before had access to any sort of saddle-fit professional.
And then Courage's sweat marks under his dressage saddle started changing. I'd never really liked them, but he wasn't complaining and the saddle seemed to be the holy grail that fit both of us. But they kept changing, which of course correlates with him developing as we do more and better dressage work.
And once you have the holy grail, it's in your best interests to try to keep it.
So I called Adrienne. (Or more like, sent a panicked facebook message, then got cold feet, then scheduled her, then almost canceled, then went ahead with it.) We set up my first-ever full-fledged saddle fitting.
First off: I was super happy with Adrienne--she's personable, she rides, and she was very professional. I hadn't met her before, but she put me at ease pretty quickly. She started by asking some questions about or level of work (low) and our history of saddle maintenance (none). Next. she carefully evaluated how my dressage saddle sat on Courage's back.
|(you've all seen my horse with a saddle on before)|
She also used them to compare with the underside of my saddle, and we came away with this information:
1) Courage is pretty symmetrical in general and exhibits no particular back soreness.
Comment: Huzzah! I was right!
2) The only noticeable variation is that his right hind is clearly his weakest link--there is a bit of a corresponding hollow in his back.
Comment: Less pumped about being right about this.
3) My saddle actually fits him quite well.
4) The flocking in my saddle is a bit like roadkill on a country highway that's been left out for a whole winter. Like, still technically recognizable as a saddle, but hard, lumpy, and way dead.
|not gonna lie, this was terrifying. RIP saddle.|
We'd initially only planned on the fitting, and minor flocking adjustments, but there was no denying what needed to be done. There was also no denying that my checking account would in no way accommodate my crazy new plan to just DO IT ALL NOW. I have a long, tragic history of beating that poor account with a stick, so we rolled with it. I told Adrienne to take the saddle home and do the full reflock.
She felt really bad about how that was substantially more money than I was planning on spending, tried to talk me out of it because she wasn't trying to take advantage of me, and then offered to throw in a free dye job on the saddle, so it would be beautiful. Not saying no to that.
I also got to go to her workshop and watch some of the work being done, which was fascinating. I'd never seen a deconstructed saddle before. Fun fact:
|this is the saddle|
|these are the panels|
That's pretty cool.
In a couple of days, I had my saddle back. I could feel the difference in the panels IMMEDIATELY. They're always been hard and lumpy, and now they were squishy and soft and even and comfy. I can definitely see how Courage will be more comfortable with them. The dye job was lovely and even and made the saddle look brand new, and she'd made a couple minor repairs to the stitching and d rings.
I love it.
It's like having a brand new saddle, only without all that buy/sell hassle.
|before--greying out everywhere|
|after--gleaming, beautiful black|
This may be my first time using a saddle-pro, but it definitely isn't the last. I'm thrilled with the possibilities. Let's face it--instead of the perennial saddle-shopping side show, I got to spend far less money with a much more satisfactory result. (And if you're local, definitely give Adrienne a call. Well worth the money, imho.)
If you're like me and had never been around the process before, this is a little bit of what it looks like. If you've done something similar with your saddle, how does it compare?