My County didn’t look bad from a distance, but it was overstuffed (for Zelda) under the stirrup bars. Lots of old clumpy wool was removed. The saddle was made in 2002 and the darker wool is original.
I was talking to someone once who complained that her horse’s back was sore. I asked if she had a saddle fitter look at it. Her response? She’d had it fitted when she bought it . . . three years ago!
That begs the question, how often do you have your saddles fitted? Personally, I have them checked twice a year by an independent saddle fitter (someone who doesn’t sell saddles). My saddles don’t always need work, but sometimes the horses surprise me by changing shape.
Today was one of those times. When you have horses that are in constant work of a similar variety, once they are fit their shapes stay pretty constant unless they are very young (getting bigger) or very old (withers becoming more pronounced).
I knew that this saddle currently fit Zelda the best, but it was still spitting saddle pads out the back like watermelon seeds, a sure sign something isn’t working.
This spring I put off having my saddles checked because I hadn’t ridden much over the winter and the horses weren’t fit. Nothing fit right, including my clothes. However, as they got fitter, I noticed that their saddles were fitting less well . . . saddles pads weren’t staying put (I had one saddle where it looked okay from a distance but the saddle pad shot out the back like a watermelon seed as I rode), and another saddle was tipping me a bit off balance.
I’m not surprised that Zelda’s back has changed. She’s using herself better and her topline has improved a lot since last fall when she had several saddles that fit. Now they all looked a bit too narrow, perching on her back
The saddle was reflocked with soft, new wool. Just enough for her to feel comfortable. A saddle that is tight under the stirrup bars can cause real problems when you start to jump — every time you land, the weight of the rider in the stirrups exerts a lot of force. If it hurts, most horses will eventually stop wanting to jump.
And Freedom? One of his saddles fit fine, but the other was the one that was tipping me a bit more forward than it used to . . .
Today was saddle fitting day. Sure enough, Zelda’s saddles were too narrow, especially below the stirrup bars. Luckily, I’ve held onto my County Extreme. It was the saddle I used on my Trakehner and it was too wide . . . until now. A bit of reflocking and it will definitely do the trick. I’m happy too as this saddle is one of the most comfortable I’ve ever ridden in.
As I’d guessed, the cross country saddle that I used on Freedom isn’t fitting right any more. It’s a shame, because it’s a very handsome Kieffer monoflap, but the panels don’t have enough give in them to change the fit enough to work and I don’t like to use shimmed pads out hunting: there’s too great a chance that they will shift and I’ll end up with a sore horse.
However, the silver lining is that the jumping saddle I’d bought for Zelda (which fit her great last year but is now too narrow) fits Freedom perfectly!
That’s why it’s so important to have a “saddle library”. No new saddle purchases required!
How about you? How often do you have your saddles checked by a fitter?