Saturday, June 20, 2015

getting creative with saddle fit

So there's a small problem. With my new saddle. The one I love very very much. That I bought with one goal in mind: Isabel's Wintec didn't fit her and she needed something that fits. Well.... the Bates maybe isn't really a great fit for her after all. Perhaps some eagle-eyed readers have already seen the (nuuuuumerous) examples of it rocking like a bitch when we jump. UGH. 

(and no I'm not linking back to any pictures but they're all over this blog, pretty much in every post that includes a pic of us jumping)

lol jk here's a perfect example
isabel wants to know what we're doing on the floor. don't we know there's bird poop down there?
The good news, tho? Isabel is not sore. Nor is she uncomfortable. My fitter doesn't think, given our circumstances and my goals, that we necessarily need to change saddles. In fact she thinks we could carry on as we are without issue... But perhaps there are some easy improvements worth trying.


they look so innocent...
Gina thinks the issues stem from the front-most panels in the saddle. Simply by the saddle's shape vs. Isabel's, when her back is lifted or head is down, the rear panels do not stay in contact with her back. One drastic option would be to have our local saddler close up the front part of the panels - taking out all the wool and stitching it together. Gina did not recommend that course of action tho. 

She DID, however, recommend a corrective Mattes pad with rear shims. Which... may ultimately find it's way to my eBay shopping list (I've already commenced stalking). But... what if I could avoid paying $150-$200? Is there a DIY option? (you just knew that was coming, didn't you...)



you may remember this picture from Brandy's tack trunk blog hop last year
Enter this Shires Performance saddle pad with foam panels that I bought from a barn mate last year for $10. I haven't really been using it lately since Izzy doesn't need that much padding up front any more. But what if we could modify this pad such that we take away the foam up front, and double what's in back?


just try to ignore how dingy the pad is, or that the floor is covered in bird poop
So we broke out the box cutter and started seam ripping. The foam up front came off really cleanly and easily.


see the pocket?
And the rear foam created a 'pocket' for more shimming. We used the excess foam removed from the front to make the shims. It's actually a pretty nice foam - soft and forgiving, but not too mushy. 


still pretty rough around the edges, but you get the idea
And it actually looked pretty good on the mare just with her saddle and girth. It doesn't totally solve the problem, but the rocking is much much MUCH reduced. 


theoretically that inner shim will be removable if Izzy's back fills in more
Next step was to ride with it to see how things go. Gina was worried that the extra padding in back would tip me too far forward in the seat, tho I don't see how a Mattes pad would be any different on that score. 


looks pretty normal under the saddle
But my thoughts? Didn't feel any different to me position- or balance-wise, I was perfectly comfortable. And we actually proceeded to have our nicest dressage school in recent memory - yay!! And the little jumping we did went pretty well too. There is still some rocking apparent in the videos, but not as much. 


seat doesn't appear unbalanced or too built up in back either
(this is an illuminating example pic too bc her head is down and you can see that without the extra padding, there would just be blank space between the saddle panels and Izzy's back)
So I'm inclined to think this might fit the bill for now. I'll check in with trainer P at our lesson today tho, just to make sure there isn't anything happening on the backside of the fences that might irritate Isabel or make her uncomfortable - esp given the saddle was also freshly reflocked. 


she looks sharp in a white pad
But if P likes it? And Isabel likes it? Well... then it's just a matter of prettying it up a bit. adding some stitches to the shims and maybe trimming the entire pad into a shape closer resembling a half pad, then finishing the edges. 

Fingers crossed it works! 


26 comments:

  1. Schneiders has a synthetic shimmable half pad, try there. It's dirt cheap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks - i'll keep that in mind. i'm really hoping to spend a little closer to $0 haha, and so far this little DIY pad seems to be doing the trick... but options are good!

      Delete
  2. Well aren't you creative! You just sparked all sorts of ideas for me--thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oooh yea - ideas are the best haha, you'll have to let us know if you start getting all crafty too!

      Delete
  3. Super crafty! And cheap! That gives it my vote. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. cheap and crafty are my favorite, esp when it works out!

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. lol thanks! i have to give credit to the fitter, she sparked the idea. but so far it's working out, yay!

      Delete
  5. Very creative! I also know of a tri pad that you can add shims to but what you did seems to work just fine.
    http://www.prolitepads.com/balance-altering-relief-pads/29-tri-pad

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. great, thanks for linking! i'll keep that in mind too. so far this pad is working out, but i'm not sure if trimming it into a half pad shape will work the way i want...

      Delete
  6. Super creative! :) She does look good in white.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! too bad white is such a pain to keep tidy...

      Delete
  7. good deal! saddle fit is such a pain in the rear!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol tell me about it! i'm SO glad the horse isn't sore or anything bc i really don't want to go down the saddle shopping road again if i can avoid it...

      Delete
  8. What a creative way to solve the problem and save some bucks!!! Hope your trainer likes it too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the trainer liked it! thought the saddle was nicely stable and the horse looked happy. yay!!!

      Delete
  9. You're a master crafter - very impressive!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol thanks! i wish my crafts were a little less rough around the edges, but if they work i'm happy

      Delete
  10. Very cool fix! And if Izzy likes it, then it sounds like an excellent solution :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's exactly what i'm thinking!

      Delete
  11. First time my fitter saw Arwen: "Well, this is going to be a complicated fit."
    First time she saw Magic: "Oh, horsy, you are going to challenge my ingenuity."
    I have complete sympathy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha yea, these tricksy horses and their strange anatomy. but keeping them happy is imperative so we cope, right?

      Delete
  12. Wow what a good idea! I know the struggle of saddle fit.

    ReplyDelete