So, I'm back from the trip. My husband and I had a lovely time in England, and sooner or later I'll post a few of the horsey-related photos from the trip (no, I didn't get to ride, although the weather was PERFECT for it).
While I was gone, a wonderful friend in Houston picked up the 18 inch County Eventer saddle that ANOTHER friend over at Donkey Sense found for me on Craigslist (can you tell I have a lot of really wonderful friends? I'm very lucky!) My Houston friend also dropped the saddle off at my house since he was coming through Austin, so when I arrived home from my trip, there was my "new" County Eventer.
I took it out on Tuesday and tossed it on Saga - it snugged right into place and seemed like every bit as good of a fit as the 17 inch Eventer that I rode in when I was testing out saddles. However, the stuffing in the cantle is harder than a rock, and there's almost no flocking left in the front. The leather is also slightly wrinkled on one side underneath due to a lack of flocking.
Last night I took the saddle down to Capstone Saddlery in Dripping Springs so that Carol could work on it (if you live near Austin and need help with fitting your saddle, she is AWESOME). She said she might be able to get to it this weekend - it needs a complete reflock, so she'll have to take the whole thing apart. Once she finishes, she'll come up to the barn and do the final fitting to make sure it's absolutely perfect for Saga. I can't wait to get it back!
While we were there, I tried out a few dressage saddles to see what the options are (yeah, my husband has no idea what he's getting into). Carol had two that work for flat-backed horses, a Passier 17.5 (I think it was this one) and a 16 inch Reactor Panel saddle. I sat in the Passier and it was HUGE on me, which is funny b/c my Isabel is a 17.5. My leg also had about 2 inches between where it hung and where the thigh blocks were located. Ick. Then my husband sat in it, and I think his words were "Holy COW, it's like sitting on a COUCH!" It fit him PERFECTLY. It snugged right into his leg, his seat was in the right place, it was awesome. He really liked it, but of course we're not in the market for a dressage saddle for him that fits Saga. Alas.
Then I sat in the Reactor. Let me just say that those saddles look REALLY WEIRD. But when I plopped my butt in it, it was AMAZING. So comfy, the thigh blocks were just perfect, and it was so very nice. What's so cool about the saddle is that the part that rests on the horse's back is sort of moving independently of the part of the saddle that the rider is sitting on. Also, the flexible panels on the horse's back are designed to move around the shoulder instead of sit behind it. I don't know if it will actually fit Saga or if he will like it, but when Carol brings out my Eventer for the final fitting, she'll bring out the Reactor as well for me to try out.
In other news, I longed Saga on Tuesday. It's probably a good thing that I have no saddle for a few days, because my horse DOES NOT LONGE. Voice commands are right out for downward transitions, so I'm using my body to get him to slow down. He's clearly been roundpenned. So, more longeing is definitely in order. It can only help in the grand scheme of things!
UPDATE: The saddle my husband liked was actually a 17.5 inch Passier Corona.