There has been a lot of discussion about saddles on the forum lately - the good, the bad, the ugly. One of the lovely ladies on the forum said "I love saddles!" - and all I could think was "I HATE saddles!".
Yeah, I do hate them. Right now, anyway. I am on saddle three, on an extremely limited budget, and trying to find something that fits both my big butt and long inseam as well as Bronwyn's mountainous withers and broad-as-a-coffee-table back has been a challenge that frustrates me. I've almost decided to give up on saddles altogether. I have been posting this photo around the internet and telling people I give up - I am just going to live in the woods with my horse and braid sticks into her mane and ride her around with no tack whatsoever and go wherever she wants, whenever she wants and completely forget about the concept of schooling or competing with her.
Honestly, I feel like my lack of a saddle that we feel comfortable in together has been a huge block to me getting any work done with her. I would say her training has really not progressed more than a step or two this summer due to a combined lack of time to invest into it and also the fact that when I do ride, I am scared to put any real significant amount of time on her, or to do anything strenous for fear of hurting her because of poor saddle fit. I can't work on my position because the saddles I have had don't allow me to get my leg under me. It's overall uncomfortable.
I have taken to riding bareback, primarily. I enjoy it - I look forward to it - probably because I am so uncomfortable in the saddle. I have ridden Bronwyn herself bareback more often in the last two years than I ever rode all of the horses I ever owned and rode in my childhood previous to Bronwyn put together. It's just comfortable that way.
That doesn't mean I wouldn't LIKE to find a saddle that I love. I'd love to find something that will change my mind. Unfortunately, the tack "scene" in our region is not the same as in other places. Sure, you can find lots of 18 or 19" seats... and you can once in a while find a reasonably priced "broadback" style saddle (though never seem to be as wide as Bronwyn needs!), but you rarely find something that fits both her AND I in one saddle in one place, anywhere near me, and in my price range. I can't go to a tack shop and sit in a variety of brand name saddles to see what fits me best or take something home from the consignment shop for a seven day trial. I will have no choice but to buy something from "away" and risk it not fitting, and pay the shipping both ways if it doesn't... IF there is a return option. I am just scared of making a mistake that I can't afford.
I want to put my pennies together and buy something great, designed for a broad backed horse with a seat to fit my butt but it seems like that is a long way in the future at the rate I am going now. I will bide my time, watch eBay, collect pennies out of the washing machine and eventually, I know I will own something that I will love.
In the meantime, you can find me in that treeline behind my roundpen, weaving alder branches into Bronwyn's mane!