Wednesday, January 3, 2018

some things are worth melting for

Sometime in the last week, during one of these ridiculously cold days where time seems to stop and blur together all at once.... one of these past days, Charlie finally had his saddle fitting appointment!

On the agenda was:

- Reflocking my Bates Caprilli jump saddle
- Evaluating Austen's Barnsby dressage saddle that I have on loan
- Evaluating trainer P's custom Hulsebos dressage saddle also on loan

it looks like it was custom made for a large TB bc..... it was haha
It was a new fitter for me (the third I've worked with throughout the history of this blog.... let it be known that I am a skeptic now about this profession), a County rep. She took a good long look at my jump saddle while sitting on Charlie with no girth or pads, and asked me if I had any shimmable half pads.

So I pulled out my Prolite half pad, currently configured with small front shims (that I've been using for both of my saddles in slightly different configurations throughout the past year with Charlie). She liked the look of it with the front shims, but wondered if it needed lift in back too.

strapped on and ready for another test ride
Once it was girthed up tho, she came to the same conclusion as me: this saddle is a pretty decent fit on the horse with the corrective padding. The seat is balanced, there aren't any pressure points, and the horse seems happy.

I've personally not noticed nearly the same degree of movement ("chattering" I think it's called) while jumping with this saddle on Charlie that was always a pervasive issue with Isabel, and Charlie hasn't seemed to be bugged by this one like he was with my dressage saddle.

The fitter was also on board with my fuzzy girth choices. It seems like a lot of fitters can have somewhat strong opinions about style and type of girth... but, well. Charlie requires soft fuzzy and flexible girths in no uncertain terms, and I take my orders from him. This fitter had no concerns about that tho, which was nice.

So, the Bates jump saddle lives on, and Charlie is not at present being offered for sale lol. The rep went ahead and got that saddle freshly flocked (esp with a mind toward improving its clearance) and we moved on to assessing the two trial dressage saddles.

hard to take pictures from the ground bc it sits above my head lol
First up was Austen's Barnsby, which I had not yet gotten a chance to ride in myself. I had worried that the channel was a little narrow in places, but the fitter didn't seem concerned about that. It was a touch wide up front, tho that seemed like it could be corrected with the same shimming configuration as my jump saddle. There wasn't a ton of clearance, but the fitter wasn't really put off by it.

We opted to just go ahead and throw the Hulsebos up there for the purposes of comparison and.... basically the fitter was like, "Oh. Yea. This is your saddle."

Lol.... I guess it's a pretty good fit as is, no half pads or shims needed (tho we did experiment a little bit with my sheepskin and Success Equestrian gummy half pad). She particularly likes the front gussets on the saddle, and basically admitted that Hulsebos is one of County's biggest competitors in that they have some very similar design features.

extremely bundled up against the frigid temperatures lol
The story with this saddle is that trainer P had it custom made for her thoroughbred, who has since passed away. It was her first Hulsebos saddle and she's gone on to get a whole bunch more custom made for her and her horses - both jump and dressage saddles. She... loves this saddlery. Brita bought one of her customs last year and has been fully converted as well.

The only issue here was that this particular saddle has a lot of sentimental value to P. Being both her beloved horse's, and her first. It's also valuable in that it's a somewhat hard to find style that's particularly well suited to big thoroughbreds. Tho, conveniently for me, P doesn't have any horses matching that description at present. Whereas, ya know. I *do.*

droolcicles!!!! also, stay tuned tomorrow for a post dedicated to my thoughts on riding in extremely cold weather!
So it took a little convincing, but she consented to sell it to me (tho I will happily give her first right of refusal should I ever decide to part with it). Yay!!

It's a very different type of saddle from what I'm used to - my Bates was kinda a starter dressage saddle: very plain, minimal blocks, slippery leather and kind of an open seat. I did well enough with it - never felt like I was fighting it - but it certainly never did me any favors.

The Hulsebos, on the other hand, has a bit more to say about my position. The shape of the seat combined with the blocks naturally puts my pelvis in a bit more of a level position (rather than my typical tipped-forward seat).

The big rear panels (built for a horse with a peaked back, instead of flat) create a really interesting dynamic in how I feel Charlie moving beneath me. I can actually feel each of his hind legs independently now, and can also feel a bit more of my own asymmetry when it comes to sitting more to the right. In fact, when I put my normal dressage stirrups on this saddle I immediately realized how uneven they had been for.... well, a long time now haha.

Similarly, despite it being somewhat of a giant saddle relative to the Bates, my lower leg actually feels closer to the horse. And I can also more easily feel when my leg is draped loosely down vs clinging against Charlie's side, as dressage trainer C is constantly telling me to stop doing.

yep, i'd take that plunge lol
Charlie, for his part, seems happy in the saddle - tho we'll need a bigger girth (only his Ovation Gel Body Form style will do!! I mistakenly put something else on him when mine was too snug a fit and he.... he did not approve, let's just say that lol.).

I'm eager to get some more miles in the saddle tho - even if it's just really light w-t-c rides while we try to survive the freezing cold weather while staying in some semblance of routine. And I may or may not need to consider trimming down ye olde ass size since mine is definitely not the same size as trainer P's, for whom this saddle was built lol. New year, new me, right?? Kidding, sorta.

Anyway tho. There are a couple other elements of Charlie's wardrobe that I'm evaluating during this off season too - like I have a new bit coming in to play with. And obvi I'll be keeping an eye on how things go as we get used to this saddle, since sometimes it can take a little while for issues to appear.

I'm optimistic tho. This is officially my first real, substantial tack purchase for Charlie, considering everything else is handed down. And this is what the off season is all about, right? Finding new and exciting things to think about when we kinda can't really do anything else bc of the weather. Are you looking into any fun tack (or other) purchases right now? Or otherwise taking inventory and stock of all your gear in anticipation of future warmer weather??

46 comments:

  1. I am glad that you found the right saddle and were able to talk Trainer P into selling it!

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    1. Thanks haha - I was prepared for a bigger fight about it than I needed lol, Brita and I were ready to pin her down and shove the check in her hands then run away. Luckily we didn't need to go that far! ;)

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  2. Aw, trainer P must really love you :) I swear, every saddle fitter I meet makes me a little bit less confident that any of them really have a clue. I think you have to just pick one and blindly follow them. Sigh.

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    1. Ugh yea fitters just bug me. This one wasn't bad tho. Didn't seem as zealous about certain things as past fitters have, and everything she said made sense to me. So I would work with this one again if needed. Maybe. LOL

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  3. wow glad you got to keep your jump saddle and found out one of the dressage saddles will work for you! It is always the pricey nice ones that sing to us, right? LOL And this cold is RIDICULOUS. And now they are calling for snow. and then high teens on Friday and Sat. WTF. The rate I am going I won't be riding for weeks. I just can't haul in this weather if it is that cold. The riding is not so bad its the hitching up, loading up, and honestly trying to keep Remus warm on the ride in the trailer. EHHHHH bah humbug :) I am glad you have the indoor!! YAY on saddles and new stuff. Can't wait to read all about this stuff.

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    1. this cold is really wearing me out. i've still managed to keep riding but it's tough. the indoor helps a lot tho. i don't blame you for not feeling like hauling out, tho if you DO decide to go for it, the pep talk i always tell myself is that i'll remember having fun in the ride more than i remember being cold in the ride ;)

      still tho, some warmer temps would be appreciated!

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  4. That saddle is gorgeous. Glad she consented to sell it to you.

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    1. thanks, me too!!! i mean, it was a pretty obvious fit for charles and she acknowledged that lol, thankfully!

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  5. Sounds like a good situation with the new to you dressage saddle -- having a built in buyback is always a perk! Glad Charlie approves 😀

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    1. so far so good! and yea it's nice knowing it's got a home if i can't use it - tho my guess is that her sentimental attachment decreases as her appreciation for those dollars in the bank increases lol

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  6. the hulsebos looks GREAT on him- and you! its awesome you were able to easily find a saddle that fits both of you without trying 50 things. glad the bates worked and he is not for sale :P

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    1. yea i'm super relieved we didn't have to go down some deep dark rabbit hole looking for answers, this was admittedly pretty easy! and i'm definitely glad the bates gets to stay on, i just freakin love that saddle, plain and cheap as it is!

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  7. Ha I love him burying his head in the hay. I've seen those saddles for sale online, they look very nice!! Can't wait to see some dressage video!

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    1. hopefully we can get video for you sooner or later! that's the toughest video for me to get, but eventually!

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  8. I hope all of the saddle's history lends you good luck in your shows =)

    All I "need" is a jump girth for Griffin. The one we have is old and stiff and I'm tired of motherfucking it when I tack him up. I'd like to get him a legit bridle for jumping this year, too, and also get Q a breastplate and crupper that match her halter bridle. All of these latter things aren't necessary though, so I'm in no hurry to spend the money!

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    1. ugh i had fussy girths, and kinda love that charlie's preferred taste for girths is of the cheap easy variety lol. both of mine are ovations and i've been quite happy with them if you're looking for brands. exciting about getting a new bridle too!! and all the tack for Q!! it's fun to think about all that stuff, even if we're in no real rush to go buy it!

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  9. Happy you found something that fit! Looks like a really nice saddle! If only it would warm up some... I'm so sick of this weather...

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    1. ugh this weather is killin me. charlie doesn't seem to care, thankfully.... but still. i wanna go out and doooo things!!!! soon, hopefully.

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  10. Ah, saddle shopping is so hard (as you know so well), I am happy to hear that you have possibly found something so easily!

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    1. hopefully it's more than "possibly" -- i've already paid for the saddle! so we're pretty committed to this being our solution ;)

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  11. I'm glad you found a saddle! It looks great!

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    1. thanks i'm excited about it - it feels like more of a 'grown up' dressage saddle than our bates lol

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  12. I have a brand spanking new treeless saddle coming my way...soon. It works for my very picky mare and my green gelding (who the saddle fitter cringed at when she saw him). I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it, so I ordered one with short flaps to fit me better. One day I will look for a treed jumping saddle to fit him, but unless it falls in my lap it won't be for a while.

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    1. that's awesome that you found something that worked so well for both you and your horses!! i hope it arrives asap! hard-to-fit and picky horses can be so tough sometimes

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  13. I'll have to vicariously live through you and your new saddle, seeing as I still refuse to test saddles for the time being. I've never heard of the brand though...may have to put it on my imaginary list!

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    1. yea i had sorta vaguely been thinking the bates dressage saddle would be replaced this year.... but it started buggin charlie in no uncertain terms and he started standing up (literally) for his rights. that's.... a pretty clear indicator that i needed to either switch to exclusively riding in my jump saddle, or fast track the dressage saddle replacement. luckily it all worked out more or less smoothly!

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  14. Oh man, saddle fitters are all over the map! There are some really quality ones out there who have done a lot of training and are very knowledgeable, and then there are some who took a weekend class and proclaimed themselves trained. I'm glad this one seems like a good one, and I'm glad you found something that works!

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    1. actually most of the fitters i've worked with have extensive resumes and training - the issue i've run into has more to do with dogma. some of them just have very rigid ideas of how horses ought to be saddled - one put every single thing in a narrow, for instance - that didn't really reflect the reality of each individual horse. frustrating. this one seemed pretty relaxed tho and that's good enough for me at this point!

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  15. I'm starting the saddle search - blergh. This should be fun / not :D

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    1. ugh i have had the worst time shopping for jump saddles, on multiple (multiple) occasions. so far tho, the dressage saddle purchases have been relatively smooth. wishing you luck in your search!

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  16. Saddle fitters are like body workers and trainers in my book. There's a lot of shit out there, so when you find one whose eyes don't leak brown you hold on to them forever. 😜 So glad P sold you that beauty!

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    1. yea that's basically my thoughts exactly about fitters haha. this one was ok. we shall let her live. for now. lol.... and yea i'm so glad P could be convinced!! bc i totally relate to holding onto things forever and ever and ever....

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  17. I've never heard of that brand before, but OOOH is it pretty! Congrats on finding something that works for the both of you!

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    1. yea i'd never heard of it either before trainer P, and honestly can't say i've ever even SEEN one for sale anywhere. i guess it's from holland? the guy who makes them comes to our farm with some regularity i guess to service them, so that's nice lol. all i know tho is that it seems to fit us and is like an entirely different saddle to sit in compared to my bates haha. much excitement!

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  18. So convenient that that saddle was in your orbit (and of course that you have a great relationship with P and are no slouch when it comes to being an owner of nice things)

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    1. definitely so convenient! i'm not sure i've ever had a simpler shopping experience haha! (esp since someone else even set up the fitter appt!). i'm hoping i will take good care of this saddle, i'm not really famous for being a great carer of leather.... which was one of the reasons i was more comfortable owning the saddle outright vs a loan type situation. we'll see tho!

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  19. Even just looking at it on him it looks marvelous! Actually I looked at the seat and thought "that looks so comfy - it's like the perfect size seat for you and fits you so well!" Haha. This be why I am not a saddle fitter lol. To me tho, ye olde ass looks just fine ;) But I just love that! When I sit in my jump saddle I can absolutely feel which of Amber's hind legs are moving, even to the point where I can feel that she hits the ground harder with her right hind (also cause it's not feeling well lol). But I think that's so important to be able to feel what the horse and doing - sounds like this saddle is perfect as you and Charlie progress! Awesome!

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    1. I'm pretty excited about it haha, snug fit or otherwise! Then panels really do feel great on Charlie too, makes a big difference

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  20. Ugh saddle fitters. In my area they can almost be like tiny cult leaders, their way is the only way and everyone else is so wrong and causing damage to your horse! I’m curious, did any of the saddle fitters you’ve used have you ride/lunge the horse so they can see the saddle fit in motion/with the weight of a rider?

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    1. Lol tiny cult leaders is right! And yes the fitter I used to help me shop a couple years ago had me ride in them, tho I didn't ask that of this particular fitter bc I already knew I was keeping my jump saddle and just wanted it reflocked, and I already had a pretty solid opinion of the hulsebos from a riding perspective. I see the value of having a fitter watch a ride, tho I'm not convinced it's a difference maker (considering the saddle I purchased after riding in it for the fitter turned out to be a terrible fit for both me and the horse lol). At this point I think it's more important that I take my own time independently to make sure I'm really feeling what I think I'm feeling, rather than what someone tells me they're seeing. If that makes sense lol

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  21. shopping for a saddle sucks. Buying a saddle is the best! Congrats!

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    1. Yes I'm much happier to have finalized the purchase lol!!! :D

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  22. Huge Congrats!! I really do think Hulsebos are terrific saddles. So glad trainer P was willing to part with it!

    <3 Kelly @ HunkyHano

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  23. The right saddle makes all the difference. :-) Hope if works for you guys for a very long time.

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