|"Hay to the left of me, saddles to the right,|
here I am, stuck in the middle with my human."
Since she grew up in the area, she knows how lacking a lot of our equestrian services are and I jumped at the chance when I heard she was coming our way for a visit with family and was willing to tie in a saddle fitting clinic with any riders who wanted it.
I had been in contact with Jen (The Saddle Geek) over the last few weeks, attempting to try and find a solution to Annie's curvy and short back. While I completely loved Jen's suggestions and felt she hit the nail on the head, there is just something to be said about "in the flesh" visits. And as fate would have it, a few weeks after I had contacted Jen, Kelsey announced she would be coming our way.
I was curious to see how the two saddle fitter's ideas would line up and what recommendations would be given.
|It was a pretty brisk morning!|
N and I unloaded the horses upon arrival and tied them to the trailer while we unloaded our stuff into the indoor and met Kelsey. No sooner did we get things ready, N and AJ jumped into their appointment and started getting measurements taken and all kinds of neat things.
While we waited, Annie made her displeasure known each and every time AJ "left" her (he just walked to the other end of the arena), but she seemed to settle and was content to munch on her hay so long as she could see her beau. Mares.
|I drooled over a few of these saddles.|
When it came to our turn, Annie was compliant with being measured and having saddles placed on and off of her. We came to the conclusion I needed to make some minor adjustments to my jump saddle for it to be a comfortable fit. We started on implementing some of the changes and poor Kelsey struggled with my Wintec's silly gullet system for quite a while. Oops!
Knowing the Bates (dressage saddle) was a hard pass, we didn't opted to not even put it on Annie to check the fit. It's a terrible fit for the horse and it's a terrible fit for me. No thanks. Kelsey did take it on consignment though, so hopefully she will have better luck finding it a new home.
I rode in a few different saddles and ended up falling in love with one that is totally out of my price range (isn't that always the way).
I started by trying out a Verhan saddle (Saddle #1) which I didn't completely love. It felt pretty secure in the seat, but the flaps were def too long and would need adjusting.
|The saddle fitter tried to get some photos of me|
in the various saddles to show me my position.
This is Annie trying to leap into canter for
the billionth time... -_-
It was basically the same nonsense as Saturday, except was amplified to Annie attempting to canter at a few particular spots in the arena. She cantered sideways, she bucked (once), and she ran around on her front end like a deranged zebra.
I stayed light in my seat and leaned back just enough to offset any kind of additional bucks she may throw my way. She was very stiff and hard in the mouth, unwilling to bend in either direction and unwilling to comply with any kind of request. Whenever we got down towards the bottom of the ring, closer to AJ, she was much more agreeable, but as soon as we trotted away, she made her displeasure known.
|That one time we were actually able to trot through this corner|
and not completely canter sideways.
We managed to get into a more positive mind space, so I opted to switch over to Saddle 2 - a Hastilow dressage saddle that I completely fell in love with. The one Kelsey had for me to try, was too small in the seat and if I decided to go with a custom saddle, there would be other changes made to ensure it fit my and Annie a bit better.
Going back out onto the rail we encountered the same problems as before, but not as bad as the first go round. I managed to get more acceptance out of Annie and was pleased when she actually tried to meet me half way in a few things.
|Well... that's a middle finger.|
I mixed up my tactics in dealing with the misbehavior and a when she bounded into the canter, I let her. And we cantered and cantered and cantered and cantered some more.
We also alternated between trot-halt transitions and even threw in some halting (which she yanked into me for every single one).
By the end of a very exhausting and frustrating school, she started to get her eggs in a basket and I could feel her softening to me and finally starting to be a bit more amicable.
|(In the Second Saddle) A brief moment of acceptance.|
Note: I realize the seat is too small for me. Was just trying
it out to see how it felt.
We finished up there - a lot of my appointment time was taken up with a silly horse and Kelsey had other clients to meet. After I untacked N took the horses out to graze and I stayed back and talked with Kelsey about my options and ideas. It was really enlightening and now I have to save up for the fancy saddle I fell in love with because my butt wants nothing else. Fingers crossed she finds a new home for my Bates too!