Tuesday, June 26, 2018

flirting with disaster

Amid the fallout from Plantation, I've been kinda systematically checking through all facets of Charlie's and my riding habit. Including reviewing all gear, esp fit.

17" medium tree beval monoflap. foam panels. knee and thigh blocks. she's real purdy
My Bates jump saddle has been dearly beloved since the very first time I sat in it. I love it. Deeply. But it was never a perfect fit for Isabel, and isn't really perfect for Charlie either. The adjustable tree, wool flocking, and my shimmable Pro-lite half pad have allowed it to get pretty close tho.

yea haha one is decidedly sexier than the other
After Plantation Charlie's massage therapist thought he had some soreness related to the saddle. Considering he's gained a metric ton of weight since his surgery, rehab, winter, and subsequent spring filled with luscious grass, it might make sense that the tree is pinching him a bit.

aside from the cute charlie nose cameo (top left!), the biggest difference i see is in the twist of each saddle
Charlie's proportionally not a wide horse. He is, however, size Large. So I decided it was time to size up in gullet plates for him anyway. Meanwhile, tho, I got to wondering if possibly it was time to rethink my Bates altogether.

The main issue with the Bates being: the panels aren't quite the right shape for Charlie, and it's possible that a wider gullet will just exacerbate that issue. I'm not sure yet if that will be the case bc I haven't tried the new plate tho, since Maryland Saddlery happened to have this lovely Beval Monoflap on hand that looked ripe for a trial.

not perfect, but no glaring deal breakers
I ran a lot of financial simulations in my head and figured out a path wherein I could afford it.... But to do so, it would have to be PERFECT. Like, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Esp considering I'd be switching out an adjustable tree with wool panels for a fixed tree with foam panels, there needed to be a strong feeling like this new saddle would work.

better with half pad
And honestly it looked prettttty close on the horse. I wasn't thrilled with the amount of clearance, but the panels were nice and even down the length of his back, the balance looked good, and there were no tight spots. If anything, the front of the saddle was a titch wide - meaning there was room for some shims that would also improve clearance.

looking reasonable all kitted up
I tried it the first time with just a regular half pad, and no extra shims. Right away the saddle felt very different from mine: It has a visibly wider twist (which I noticed when I first picked it up) and kinda a hard, shallow seat. I wondered if I would feel secure in it.

But after riding around for a while, I decided that I actually quite liked it. The wider twist naturally made me sit back more on my seat bones instead of rocking forward onto my crotch like I do in my Bates. This had the waterfall effect of changing my leg position from putting a lot of weight into my knees (causing pinching and the habit of swinging lower legs), and creating a more natural drape in the leg with weight in my thigh and heel. This also meant my calf hung long on the horse, even when I was putting leg on, instead of wanting to curl up.

i liked what it did for my seat and how my leg hung down. don't mind the headless horse and rider shot tho haha
Overall my feeling in the saddle was pretty good. So I was eager to keep testing it - opting to next ride with added corrective shims up front to further improve clearance. Again this made it look prettttty close for Charlie, and I felt pretty good in the saddle and eager for a chance to jump in it and get feedback from coaches.

The only issue is.... Charlie's not really been as sound as I would like lately. I've been continuing to ride him lightly trying to stretch and build strength (he's not really the kind of horse you want to let sit if you can avoid it - motion is lotion and all that), but am not totally satisfied with how he feels. At least, not satisfied enough to jump him.

there's that sweet charlie face!!
Plus I had some nagging concerns with how he felt during those trial rides. Specifically: we were continuing to have some issues with forward. Which like, it's Charlie. That could be due to literally any of thousands of potential issues. Not limited to his NQRness, general malaise, or just being kinda blah. It didn't necessarily have to be the saddle.

Just to try to control for one factor tho, I did our next ride in my Hulsebos dressage saddle. Again, there's a lot of uncontrolled factors too (like he had a day off in between) so who really knows, but he felt a lot better in that ride. More forward, softer, more supple, more relaxed. Still NQR (grr) but reasonably happy throughout the ride.

So..... On one hand I could ask the consignment shop to extend my trial (they're pretty flexible usually) and see if I can hang on to it long enough for Charlie to feel well enough to jump again. But.... Realistically I already know it's not really perfect. Possibly workable enough... but I already own a workable saddle, I don't need to blow my budget on another one when this summer already has some seriously major financial expenses looming on the horizon (thanks, moving!).

So yea. Gonna have to pass on this pretty little Beval. It was a nice flirtation while it lasted. But ya know. I'm so soured on saddle shopping haha. And even more so on professional saddle fitters... So let's just hope adjusting the gullet plate in my Bates gives Charlie the space he needs in that one dimension so we can keep chipping away at everything else. Uh, including getting him sound again... Sigh.

38 comments:

  1. I heard the best description of tack problems: it's not a problem.. Until it is. Lol! Sometimes it is an excuse, sometimes it is legit causing the madness!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ain't. that. the. truth.

      likewise, i often feel this deep, panicky, impulsive need to solve every problem by throwing money at it. like, "ooh saddle isn't 100%?? let's blow my entire summer budget by buying *another* saddle that isn't quite 100%!!!! that'll fix it, right??"

      Delete
  2. Too bad it doesn't quite work for him, your leg looks like it hangs great in it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ugh yea being totally honest this was not the conclusion i *wanted* to arrive at... sigh.

      Delete
    2. at least you have an idea of what works so when you are ready....I love my monoflap but if i had been able to pick and choose i would have gotten an half inch bigger. It works...but....the rest of it works great and it fits Remus so I will suck it up and try to make my ass smaller one day LOLLOL. I hope Charlie feels better soon (or you figure out whats up)

      Delete
    3. thanks, yea it's always useful to collect more data points. particularly this was the first saddle with such a wide twist that i actually liked - so that's really good food for thought, esp for how it fit combined with those flaps. but... ya know... bleh, saddle shopping is also the worst!

      Delete
  3. i really love the flap size and shape on you but you're right - I don't think there's quite enough clearance (since you're getting a new saddle anyway you might as well go for 10/10) and i also think the seat looks a little small for you.

    i hate saddle shopping. maybe more than horse shopping. i got lucky - amanda was looking at saddles and i literally just followed her posts until i found one of her castoffs that i loved. hahahha :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea i mean, for my currently-stretched-thin dollars, it's gonna have to be 10/10. i felt like the seat was maybe on the small side too but it didn't cause any issues on the flat. definitely would have needed to jump around in it a bit to really figure that part out but... well. we don't appear to be jumping any time soon. boo.

      Delete
  4. That saddle is REAL purdy! I'm trying to hold out until Scout is 6 to get him a big boy saddle, but mine is starting to disintegrate! I feel ya on the NQR, Scout was not himself all last week and then seemed super uncoordinated -- which ultimately ended up with him spiking a fever and having anaplasmosis. Damn horses!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ughhhhhhh that sucks :( anaplasmosis seemed to be freakin everywhere last year, but your case is the first i've heard so far this year. hopefully Scout is feeling 100% asap!! and yea, it can be so hard to justify getting a new saddle when we know they're going to be changing so much in their bodies..

      Delete
  5. I am not going to lie, I splurged on my dressage saddle and custom ordering it. And STILL have not sold either of my jump saddles that do not fit :( Which is stressing me out since I REALLY need to get those sold. But I looked for MONTHS and could not find ANYTHING that even remotely fit my horse. Saddle shopping is the worst.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it is definitely the worst for sure! i splurged on my dressage saddle last winter too - tho it was still used (had been made custom for my trainer). sometimes we gotta do what it takes to find something that works!!

      Delete
  6. I'm going through similar trials with a new CWD. Already had to send it back once because the flap wasn't working for me. Hopefully this next one will be better.
    Best of luck on finding one that's right for Charlie and you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh man, that's gotta be so frustrating! and i've heard so so so many similar stories from folks who went custom but then still weren't totally thrilled with the outcome. saddle fit is just so freakin hard, and professionals in that field all seem to have wildly diverging philosophies on what characterizes a "correct" fit for horse and rider. definitely makes it challenging, esp with the big price tag!!

      Delete
  7. Ahhh poo. That saddle is really lovely tho. It does let your leg hang in a good way. So sorry that it didn't work out! There may be a couple options if you still want to look - Amber has a Prestige, but their jump saddles do come in wool flocked and their trees are adjustable. There are a lot of good-looking used ones for good deals on FB and ebay too. Also, don't know if the Ovation event saddle is maybe something you'd like, but I know Dover has trials so you could try the saddle before.

    As you said tho, there are expenses looming, and with Charlie feeling NQR it may be better to hold off on the search for a little longer. Good luck tho! On both the saddle and Charlie feeling better :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea i mean honestly i'm not truly shopping right now, and if i do start to look in earnest it will 100% be for a used saddle, with a trial an absolute must. this saddle had the advantage of being at my local shop already so it's really easy to pick up for a trial. but unless something else similarly presents itself as an easy test option, i'm gonna just roll with what i got for now.

      Delete
  8. Saddle shopping is not fun but at least you have something manageable in the meantime. I'm sorry Charlie isn't 100% sound right now too. So many factors seem to be at play. It sucks when your horse is laid up. Every time I look out at my guy I sigh at the thought that I could be riding...except I can't because he is still lame. Then I look at Gem....and walk away because I have lost all motivation for that ride.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea i mean, honestly step 1 should have been testing out the bates with the wider gullet first, but this saddle just looked too delicious to pass up a trial! alas, it wasn't to be. but i'm reasonably confident that the bates can continue to be a workable solution with a few tweaks for at least the foreseeable future.

      and yea, ugh it sucks when horses aren't feeling 100%. definitely knocks the wind out of my sails! hopefully Cruise's tootsies feel better soon tho!

      Delete
  9. Hate saddles. THEYRE THE WORST. But I also wont ride without one so... there's that.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bummer the saddle didn't work out, but I'm sure you'll find something. And I love that OTTB pad!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, i love that saddle pad too and was tickled to find it on consignment last year!!

      Delete
  11. Definitely a pretty saddle for sure though! And ugh, sorry to hear about the lingering NQR-ness...I know the feeling all too well. Hopefully whatever it is gets sorted quickly and easily so you and Charlie can go back to rocking all them jumps.

    ReplyDelete
  12. When Beval closes a door, maybe Huselbos opens a window? (Do they make jump saddles? Not even sure but I hope you can find something amazing and perfect for you both!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. they do, actually! and their rep is in the states next week coming to our farm, supposedly with a few used options. we shall see!

      Delete
  13. Oh boo to the NQRness! But sounds like a pretty solid decision on the saddle. Nice to have looked and learned a little though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea it's so hard to make these choices sometimes tho, like what even is money, right??

      Delete
  14. Hope that Charlie comes right like yesterday and that you guys are back at it soon. And sounds like a good call on the saddle for now, but I get it. When something isn't right I try to validate equipment changes both to help and to get a little retail therapy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ugh yea seriously. anything that makes me feel like i'm doing something, making changes, actively trying to fix an issue.... but that doesn't mean i need to throw the baby out with the bath water!!

      Delete
  15. So hard to pass on all the pretty things. But at least you know what direction you want to go in and what will work!

    ReplyDelete
  16. The nagging worry of a not-quite-right saddle and Charlie being off (honestly C, knock it off!) can be a bad combination. I agree though on passing on the saddle- it should be perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Ugh, sorry to hear that Charlie is NQR and hopefully he's back to his wonderful self soon. Agree with you, since the saddle isn't perfect (still workable though) and you can't really suss out a final conclusion considering the myriad of things nqr I'd let the saddle go too in hopes of finding the perfect one.

    ReplyDelete
  18. When it rains, it pours. Hang in there. Saddle shopping and a NQR horse totally suck but you have a good game plan. Is there a fitter who can bring out a bunch of different brands to try?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Boo. It's so important to get the right saddle, though! Better that you return it than regret it awfully later. The right one will come along!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Awww man, saddle shopping is the worst (which is why I refuse to start looking for a dressage saddle). But yeah, if you're going to buy a new one, it should be perfect. Hope C starts feeling better soon!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ugh. Saddle shopping.... so frustrating.

    I'm sorry Charlie isn't feeling 100%. :( It sucks that they can't talk and tell you what's wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sounds like a very responsible choice.

    ReplyDelete