I'm sorry for the crappy quality. This is a cell phone picture because my beagle ate the power cord for my computer, making it difficult to upload pictures. You could argue that this happened in March and I ought have replaced it by now, but really, I had horse stuff to buy, people. ;-) I may actually have to replace it this semester.
The picture is of trial saddle #1, from the local tack shop. It's an older Beval close contact with a wide tree. It's only a 17" though, so it's a little small for me. As you can see, it's very light colored, so it matches absolutely none of my other tack. There are some minor tears in the leather, but they're only really noticeable up close.
I put it on Izzy this morning, and I have mixed feelings about it. It's not an amazing fit. I did notice a slight improvement in her movement on the lunge line, but part of that is always that I just love to watch my horses, so when I watch closely, I appreciate them more. I did notice a slight but marked improvement under saddle, though. With the last saddle we used, Izzy never relaxed her neck, and I don't blame her. She's balanced enough now that if (a big if) her saddle isn't bugging her, her natural head carriage should be fairly long and low. Today, when we trotted long enough to settle, her neck finally began to relax.
That's good. All it says though is that this saddle is better than the two last. It doesn't really make this the be-all and end-all. The sweat patterns were better than the previous two, but still nothing to be excited about. This is a saddle that I guess is my absolute fall back if-nothing-else-I-can-find-fits idea. It's cheap, which is nice, but I have other priorities, too. When I'm spending this much on something, I want it to be something that fits well, looks good, and preferably will hold it's value. This is why I'm looking at used mid-range saddles instead of new low range saddles.
Now, I just need to find a way to get saddle #2 here.