Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Public Service Announcement

Let's talk about saddle fit for humans. Hopefully, we are all acquainted with exactly how crucial it is to have a saddle that fits your horse--it makes a world of difference for how the horse moves and thinks and acts. That said, I think entirely too many people, myself included, have said, "As long as it fits my horse, I can ride in anything." We forget that Our anatomy benefits just as much from a well fitted saddle as the horse does.

Here's my Passier. It fits Izzy brilliantly, but more than that, it was my introduction to what a saddle that actually fits me feels like. In my previous saddle, my heels were always up and my right ankle was locked. I thought it was me--my position, my riding, my mistake.

Surprisingly, as soon as I sat in this saddle, that went away and has not returned. The other saddle didn't fit me correctly and was causing the problem.

It's not about the brand or the price. The two saddles I currently own are not the most expensive saddles I've ever had. Passiers are not magic wands--they work really well for Izzy and I, but they may not work as well for someone addressing a different problem or with different conformation

After we experienced the wonders of a saddle that actually fit both of us, I became a girl on a saddle fit mission. I hated my jump saddle and I began to realize that the reason was that the balance was all wrong for me. I was ahead of the motion and pushed forward, which contributed to me being terrified of jumping. I decided to shelve jumping until I could find something that would actually work for us.

Here's the result: an Ainsley XC saddle. I did my research and crossed my fingers and happily, it worked. Really, really well. It's completely different from my previous saddle, but it fits us both brilliantly and I am so comfortable and secure in it that I'm actually looking forward to jumping this afternoon.

Please don't tell me that saddle fitting is expensive--I live in cow country, ID and we have zero independent saddle fitters who carry any inventory and 1 (brand new!) brand rep for a type of saddle that is completely out of sight for me price-wise. It takes initiative, kind friends, and a lot of study, but you can figure it out and it is so worth it.

Aimee and Izzy, moving forward.


  1. That Passier is lovely. It looks nice and balanced and I prefer saddles without two miles of stuff between you and the horse. The saddles with 4" blocks look like they'd hinder more than help.

  2. I don't jump, but my daughter does. So I know thru her how much difference a saddle can make. She has a Bates with movable knee blocks, which we got her after she had a bad unplanned dismount while jumping. She feels very secure in the Bates and it shows!

  3. My jumping saddle is an old (i think older then me) crosby prix de nations that I had custom blocked, and my dressage saddle is an HDR, but I can't tell you the style. I've sat in 20 or so saddles, these were the two I liked best, even though for my tb gelding who is not the typical narrow backed tb I may have to go hunting for a new jumping saddle for him, which I have already got my eye on another (used) HDR. Every horse is different, every rider is different. Yes, the french made $3000+ saddles feel very nice, but come on, in reality to really ride, you don't even NEED a saddle... ;)

  4. I'm so happy you have saddles that fit both of you so well-you're so right about how much difference it makes to sit in something that doesn't get in your way. We have better horses and we are better riders than we think:)

  5. Good job on the saddle search. Around here, in NJ, there are tons of sellers and fitters...some good, some bad. You are right, your world is very different and you were on your own on that quest. I am so happy you've found the right combination for both you and Izzy.

  6. My friend is a saddle fitter (good one at that too) and she told me that a good fitting saddle can improve your riding by two years. She's right. I rode in my Passier and was amazed at how much of a better rider I felt like. AMAZED!!!

  7. Yay for moving forward. I never realized what a saddle that fit me felt like either until the Albion came along. It makes a huge difference.

    So I have not ignored your more than generous offer of the shim pads for the thinline. I am soooo grateful for the offer. The reason I haven't responded to it is because I have been frustrated and trying to think of what i should do. See I put the pad on Steady only once and he HATED it. He pinned his ears back and tried to bite me when I was putting on the saddle and girthing up. I rode him in it and it did not give enough lift to keep the saddle far enough off his withers and he was not a happy boy being ridden in it. So I took it off put my lami-cell back on and he was fine. I got mad because I invested the money in it thinking it would be worth it and my horse hated it. At that point I had front shims in it. I didn't know if you can double up shims and maybe I could put two in front on each side but I also feel like there needs to be a little more support in the middle of the panels but not neccessarily at the back. Any suggestions for me?

  8. I just discovered Ainsley. I bought one. I sat in it and for the first time IN MY ENTIRE LIFE I was jumping in a saddle that wasn't pushing my leg back. There was no fight to keep from jumping ahead. My horse was so relaxed she was doing a strong 1-stride in an easy 2 strides (oops) consistently! I guess now that we're both so comfortable in our jumping tack, it's time to bring the 'oomph' back!


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