Tuesday, March 8, 2016

fit me once i'll fit you twice

But nobody's setting fire to the bed.

"YET." - isabel
Ahem. ANYWAY. Fitter came back out this weekend. Perhaps you'll recall from my 'state of the union' post last month, I had planned this whole big multi-faceted approach for tackling Isabel's general health and well-being, particularly her topline, immediately prior to breaking my leg.

(Also - funny side story - I almost broke the leg AGAIN in the SAME GOD DAMNED WAY at a recent dressage lesson. Stepped out of the trailer badly and just barely caught myself before nearly eating shit again. Like, leg was swollen and sore for days after. Exactly the same. OMG NO EMMA STAHHHP. Ugh. #stepstool4lyfe)

taking tracings
I waited a bit to bring fitter J back out again simply to give us a chance to put some weight and muscle back on the mare... But generally, we're ready to take the next steps again with replacing our Bates jump saddle with something that fits better. Except I have reached my limit with both saddle fit and saddle shopping. So over it. Done.

From this point forward, I'm utilizing the fitter's personal saddle shopping services to find what will surely be our perfect magical mystical unicorn. First step: acquire new tracings!!

this picture will likely always inspire feelings of bitterness and resentment 
Recall we had tracings done last October (pictured above), at which point fitter J observed that the narrow gullet plate our first fitter put Isabel in was really... an abysmal fit.

At the time, I felt degrees of trepidation about some of what this new fitter was saying... but went along with it all the same. And she was adamant: the narrow plates HAD TO GO. She pulled them out of both my Bates saddles, replacing the jump saddle with a medium wide and the dressage saddle with a medium.

top: wither tracing in october 2015; bottom: wither tracing in march 2016
And whadya know. Turns out she was right. Soooo right. Isabel might still be on the thin side for my liking, and I don't exactly get the warmest fuzziest feelings looking at her hollow back... But damn if that mare hasn't added 7cm to her tape measurements - most all of it coming from those hollows at her withers filling in a little bit. Yay for small victories!!

So now the fitter is armed with updated tracings to begin checking her inventories for potential matches. We shall see what happens. I'm feeling... cautiously optimistic haha.

In the meantime, since her fee includes two saddle assessments, we took a looksie at my dressage saddle too even tho I'm not necessarily emotionally prepared to replace it at present. Final determination? It'll do for now. But probably not worth the investment in converting from CAIR to wool flocking.

balance billet strap has a little adjustment gizmo that i'd never really noticed before
She did fuss with the saddle a little bit tho. Including adjusting the balance point billet such that it hung down more straight? It ended up pulling the saddle onto Isabel's shoulders at the canter tho (prompting Isabel to express her displeasure, which subsequently prompted the fitter to ask me if cantering was even a thing we normally do... nvm that I told her we ran novice and work on 1st level dressage. FML) so we put it back as it was.

prolite half pad
She also had us check out her preferred half pad - the Prolite. The claim to fame of this pad is the superior material. It's great at shock absorption and pressure distribution. And Isabel did in fact seem more comfortable with us fussing around with the saddle while she had this pad on.

Only down side? The outer material is too slippery and wouldn't stay put as we went around. So idk. We ended up leaving the dressage saddle configured exactly as I've had it. The Prolite might be something to look into later on... or I might see if its removable shims fit inside my other shimmable half pad that doesn't shift under the saddle, since Izzy seemed to appreciate the Prolite material.

In any case, tho, I feel really good about this appointment in knowing that Isabel's topline IS filling out, even if I can't really tell. Ooh. And the prospect of maybe actually getting a new jump saddle that FITS. Super exciting, y'all.

62 comments:

  1. I think you might need the bubble wrap. Fingers crossed that you find a jump saddle in budget that is amazing for you.

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  2. I *almost* feel like ignorance is bliss when it comes to saddle fit, but I know that is such a BAD mentality! I hope the shopping services work out! Sounds promising!

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    1. eh idk, ignorance is pretty wonderful provided there's nothing bad going on haha. my mare was so sore for so long tho... kinda hard to ignore... oh well. i'm excited about this shopping service tho, we'll see!

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  3. I hope you find a good one!
    Overall, do you like the CAIR? I have one flocked with CAIR but it doesn't fit anyone I own currently so I haven't used it in a while. I know there's the general bias because it isn't wool, but not measured against that, how do you feel about it?

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    1. honestly, no i do not like the cair. i feel like it's actually harder and less shock absorbing for the horse than wool or foam. i bought this particular saddle with the intention of converting it (my local saddler is an expert at doing so), but simply hadn't yet found the room in my budget.

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  4. Hopefully having her shop for your saddle this time around makes it ten times easier. I swear you have the worst saddle fitting luck ever!

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    1. it's funny - i'm not even convinced it's bad luck haha. i think i'm just that clueless about saddle fit! oh, and working with a professional fitter who encouraged me to look for the wrong tree size, then okayed the purchase of a saddle that was never gonna fit... maybe that part was a little bad luck lol

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  5. I've got my fingers crossed for you and I do feel your pain on the saddle fitting front. Topline progress is awesome, though! Remember to take regular pix! (In my world, da Bird needs to see the fitter since it's been a year for him and he's grown/changed. I'm hoping to get her scheduled for this spring early, maybe sometime in April.)

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    1. i'm pretty excited about her topline development and was totally taken surprise by the improvements, small tho they may be!! good luck with your own fittings!

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  6. Oh man I feel for you, so much. I really hope you find your unicorn with this one.

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    1. thanks i hope so too!! i'm willing to be a little optimistic (for now) lol

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  7. This whole experience has just reinforced my belief that "when in doubt, go wider". As long as the angle seems to match and the saddle isn't sitting on the withers or rocking, I always go wider...

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    1. yup that's pretty much my final assessment as well. i was a little perturbed to hear the fitter describe both my saddles as 'skewing wide' on the horse, even tho the fitter is the one that, erm, FIT them. but then the measurements showed that the horse has filled out despite that... so... definitely an improvement!

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  8. Florence and the Machine!!!!! Or I'm guessing that was your reference at the beginning? I so love that album and it is probably one of my most listened to albums ever :)

    So glad Izzy is filling out! It's so nice to know what you're doing is working :)

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    1. haha yup!! you got it (despite my fairly loose-ish interpretation of the lyrics haha). and thanks - i'm super glad she's filling out too. it is SUCH a relief to know we're on the right path!

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  9. So exciting that Izzy is building more muscle, and I am eagerly awaiting the end of your saddle search!

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    1. meeeeee too!! haha certainly someone who knows more about saddle fit than i do would have gotten it all figured out much sooner... but whatevs. i'll just be happy when it's over!

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  10. Saddle fitting can be so deceptive when you look at a horse. I had to send a tracing in the saddle company once because they could not believe my 13.3h Arab needed an XX wide tree. Glad you are seeing improvements. Given room the back can develop.

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    1. thanks - that's exactly what we're seeing now. even with a saddle that still isn't a great fit, now that it's too wide instead of too narrow the mare is maintaining her back health, not so sore, and is developing more muscle.

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  11. I really feel for you on this. The mare that I worked with years ago was IMPOSSIBLE to fit and we wound up shimming a pad in crazy ways to get her comfortable! Not sure if you've tried the thinline (the smooth ones not the fleece) half pads, but I like them a lot for a little extra support without bulk and they have a wither relief shape.

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    1. the funny thing is, i don't think isabel is actually that complicated to fit. i just got REALLY bad advice early on that blew my budget completely... and have been playing catch up ever since. tho i stopped trying various expensive half pads bc i knew all along that i'd be replacing the saddle anyway. thin lines are great - but i needed that cash to budget for a new saddle first. we'll see what the future brings!

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  12. Fingers crossed she finds you the perfect saddle!

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  13. I definitely don't envy you, done enough saddle shopping with Stampede to last a lifetime but I did at least learn a lot.

    That's weird on the prolite pad, I use one on P and have never had an issue with sliding.

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    1. the sliding is mostly due to isabel's conformation (her back dips down) and the fact that my saddles skew wide on her. pretty much ANYTHING will slide backwards if not firmly anchored in place. the half pad doesn't have little billet strap keeper things of its own, and doesn't seem to have enough friction in it's surface to stick to my saddle pads. therefore everything just kept moving back.

      it would actually probably be resolved by adding those billet keeper straps to the half pad - definitely DIY-able. so it's not off the table as an option completely.

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    2. P has shoulders that generally like to push the saddle back (I use a thin shim in the front of the pad) and a bit of a dropped back due to age (I graduate in thickness as I go back through the other 2 slots). I'm basically creating a lift so my saddle sits even while leaving his shoulder open. Usually I feel like I have to choose the shoulder or my saddle tipping back so it's been nice.
      Another interesting thing is that from the picture you appear to be using it upside down from how I do - I have it with the pocket openings down. I wonder if that would help you at all?

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    3. the fitter is the one who put it on, so presumably that's the recommended way? that's awesome that it works so well for P. a couple barn mates have the same pad and are also happy with it. alas we did not find a configuration with this pad that worked for my horse and for this saddle, so i won't buy it.

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  14. I've never had a saddle fitter out simply because of dollars, but this is cool!

    Sidenote, happy you didn't break your leg again! #bubblewrapyou

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    1. ha thanks - i'm pretty glad i didn't break the leg again too... i would have been... um. *angry* haha

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  15. Please don't break your leg again.

    Also - you might try a total saddle fit girth, which will keep the saddle from sliding forward into her shoulders. I bought one for my dressage saddle and it completely saved me from having to buy a new saddle. (Of course, I still want a new saddle, but for other reasons.)

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    1. i've heard great things about that girth but don't feel like one is appropriate for us at this point. the saddle only pulled onto her shoulders when the fitter adjusted the billet straps. putting them back the way the were resolved the issue, so no extra tack needed there. maybe i'll revisit the idea if i change dressage saddles, but at present we essentially determined that my exact current configuration is working out just fine.

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  16. I'm with Carly, you might want to invest in some bubble wrap. Possibly leg wraps too. And shipping boots for trailering, obviously!

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    1. hahaha omg maybe i *do* need my own shipping boots when trailering?!?!?

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  17. I've asked around since my experience and it sounds like the fitter you and I both previously used basically puts Every. Single. Horse. in a narrow.

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    1. yup. every horse. all of them. they are all narrows. according to her, at least. everyone at my barn who used her went in narrows... until getting a second (horrified) opinion. it's really frustrating, i'm honestly bitter about the whole situation - especially given that my horse very likely has permanent scar tissue in her back from going in the wrong sized tree for so long. and i paid that fitter full price on three separate occasions for reflocks. grrrr :(

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    2. She actually refused to come back out for me unless I bought a flocked saddle (she "says" she was kidding), and I'm soooo glad that her comment irritated me enough that I never used her again. I probably saved my horses back and my money!!

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    3. idk... she's got a strange sense of humor. i hope you found someone whose strategies are a little more specific to your particular horse! so far i'm optimistic with this new fitter. despite my initial skepticism, the horse is improving, so i guess the proof is in the pudding? lmk if you're ever looking for someone new and i'll pass along her contact info!

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    4. Funny enough, at least from the back, the lady you're using looks just like the lady some of my barnmates used this weekend. I need to get my guy going again and then I'm making an appt. I'll confirm with you that it's the same person :)

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    5. HA now wouldn't that be funny! this new fitter has only recently gone independent and is still growing her client base. perhaps she's playing clean-up for all of us dissatisfied with the other fitter?!? LOL

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  18. The tracings with the gullet plate are pretty alarming. There are very few horses that are narrow and I would highly doubt any Arabian would ever be a narrow. How odd. I'm glad your new fitter is working better for you. I'm with you though; I don't want to saddle shop anymore. I just want to throw all the saddles in a heap and light a match. It's so frustrating.

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    1. lol "alarming" is definitely a word for it. i can think of a few others too.

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  19. Yay!!!! New saddle will be worth the pain :). Hope you find the perfect one!

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  20. Very exciting to see the difference in tracings. I'm going to have to go through this at some point when I decide to finally move to a dressage saddle, and I'm very curious.

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    1. i'm pretty happy with the difference in the tracings :)

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  21. I have the prolite pad and find it shifts a little on my girl too - my only complaint with it, since pony loves it. On a side note, my friend broke her ankle the exact same way and when they did the xrays the doctor was like 'There are other healed breaks here!" The only thing she could think of was a year prior when she turned her ankle the exact same way off the trailer and thought she'd sprained it!

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    1. ughhhhh oh man i definitely feel your friend's pain!! hopefully she heals up quickly and easily! and glad to hear you like the prolite pad too, except for the shifting. seems like it would be easily fixed with a different outer material... right?

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  22. Ugh saddle fitters, I am totally not looking forward to this but the barn I am going to says they have someone good. We will see for myself. Also why are you trying to break your leg a second time, don't you realize show season is just months away?!? Silly blogger, don't do that!

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    1. hahaha maybe i need you following me around yelling that show season is coming and then i'll stop breaking myself?!? ;)

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  23. Gah - sorry to hear... I hope things get better for you both.

    And don't break your leg again!

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    1. things are honestly pretty good right now - i'm super pleased with the development in Isabel's back and am just hopeful we can find a new saddle that will be even more comfortable for her!

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  24. I never want to saddle shop again. But it sounds like you have a good plan of attack! I think letting J shop for you will make the process less painful. Good luck! :)

    I have the ultra thinline sheepskin comfort half pad (it's shimable) https://www.smartpakequine.com/pt/ultra-thinline-sheepskin-comfort-half-pad-6794 It stays put and is the only reason that I don't have to buy another saddle for Mystic!

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    1. i'm definitely happy to pass the proverbial reins to J for the shopping... hopefully she finds something good!

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  25. oh my goodness girl watch yourself on that trailer you hear me???

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    1. i honestly don't understand why that step is so dangerous for me lol

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  26. Damnit Emma, keep your legs in one piece! For crying out loud ;) and I'm liking these new wither tracings! Quite the improvement for not a whole heck of a lot of riding.

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    1. haha thanks, that's what i was thinking about the tracings too! granted the riding we *are* doing has been very dressage-heavy, which helps. but yea it's mostly just from her back not getting pinched to hell all the time now. yay!

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  27. I always feel like saddle fitting is such a shot in the dark as we really have to put out trust in the professionals & having been badly burned myself in the past I err on the skeptical/cynical side now which saddens me.

    Please mind your legs #bubblewrapemma needs to be a thing

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    1. hahaha that's a hash tag i can get behind! and yea i'm a little sad to be so skeptical now too... but it just is what it is.

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  28. How frustrating! There might be more than one right way to train a horse, but there should be only one way to fit a saddle to a horse's back!

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    1. that's exactly what i thought too, so i was pretty dumbfounded when i realized just how off course the old fitter was, and what it had done to poor isabel... we're gettin better now tho, so i guess that's all that matters?

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