Last night, Carol from Capstone Saddlery came out with more saddles to try on Saga. The main candidate was a Reactor Panel Baker saddle, a strange-looking creature to be sure. But, it had fit my butt when I sat on it in the shop, and it's got a very flat tree, so we had high hopes it would fit Saga.
Not only did it fit him, it fit him PERFECTLY. When I went to put it on him, it just settled on his back oh-so-snugly. I always guessed if my Isabel was sitting in the right spot (too forward? too back? who knows?) but with this saddle there was no guessing. It just FIT. The thing comes with four (FOUR) billet, so at first we used the front and back billet.
I should preface my ride with the fact that he hasn't been ridden for three weeks, and he's been in his stall since Wednesday due to the two inches of rain we got. So, I was expecting a somewhat forward ride. Coupled with the mini (eeeek!) standing outside of the arena and the girl laying her horse down inside the arena, I was definitely looking at an interesting ride.
We walked for a few minutes when I got on, then picked up a trot. Saga almost immediately started his head-tossing hopping ickiness, but as I moved him forward he started working out of it. After a few minutes, Carol asked me to stop and readjusted the billets - she moved it to the second and last billet. Immediately I felt the front of the saddle lift up and suddenly his shoulders were so much more free. The head tossing stopped as if someone had flipped a switch. We even tried a little canter (buck included) - he was extremely stiff but willing, so we only did about half a circle and then came back to trot.
In retrospect I think the initial ickiness had to do more with his expectation that this would be unpleasant due to past poorly-fitting saddles. Once he figured out that it was comfortable, he started to relax. As for me, I found the saddle to be quite comfortable, but much flatter than I am used to. It has more of the feeling of an AP or jumping saddle in the cantle, but the seat itself is very comfortable. I also find myself bouncing quite a lot less in the trot than in my Isabel. I think it will take some getting used to, but it fits me nicely and is comfy.
My best friend also found a new saddle, a used Borne (not sure what model exactly). It's got a VERY deep seat, which she likes (I rode in it too and found it comfy). It also really freed up her horse Taran's shoulder, and he moved better than I've ever seen him go. This is especially impressive since he's had almost 6 months off!
YAAAAAAY!!!! I HAVE A SADDLE!!!!!
First ride is tomorrow morning, 7 a.m. sharp. While it's still below 90 degrees, I hope!
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