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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I hate saddles!

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!

17 comments:

  1. It is So frustrating, not just for bigger sized people and horses. I still haven't found a good fit for my witherless short backed appaloosa, but I finally have a great saddle for my warmblood.
    I once rode my husband's draft cross bareback for months, and it did wonders for my seat. He finally got a nice extra wide Albion, used, from a saddle fitter and it's great. Are you sure there's no one in your area who can help with fit (We're in NS Canada and even here I found someone)? In my opinion ordering long distance and hoping for the best just won't work. Good luck with this though. I know how frustrating it can be and how it can hold you back.

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  2. Hi Carol - as far as I know, there are no saddle fitters in NB - did you use Rachel Argo? The other thing, too, is that once you get into that point, we are going way out of my price range. I would feel comfortable ordering from a company like Duett directly from the company as they seem to have a team working for them that are aware and they stand behind their product.

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  3. Bareback is great! I agree on saddles - it's so frustrating trying to find one that fits both you and the horse!

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  4. Maybe you could save into your saddle budget some money to take a trip somewhere with more tack stores available so you can sit in a wide variety of saddles? (and take pics and a wither tracing with you so you can fit the saddle that fits you to Bronwyn?)

    And there are places, (and Duett is one of them, IIRC) that allow you to test ride in a saddle and send it back if it doesn't fit right.

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  5. I think I have mentioned them before, but I strongly urge you to talk to the folks at Trumbull Mountain Tack in Vermont. The folks that work there are extremely helpful and knowledgeable. They sell new and used saddles and have the most spectacular risk-free trial policy. I've bought two saddles from them, both over the phone/internet.

    Read "The Wide Horse Challenge" under "Saddle Fitting" on their web site.

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  6. It took about 6 months for me to find a saddle for my fox trotter. I asked every horse trainer/rider, farrier, vet and retired horse people about saddles. Trainers usually have several unused saddles. I got to borrow and try out about 30 saddles for free by asking.I always returned the saddle cleaned and conditioned.Sometimes saddles were missing billets, stirrups and girths, so I had extras in my tack room if needed. I bought a vintage roping saddle 17 Longhorn from a retired cowboy after trying it out for 2 weeks. And I bought synthetic 18 treeless saddle on Ebay for $100 with return option. You just have to not be shy and ask around. Horse people are always willing to help out a fellow equestrian.And bring your tape measure with you on your saddle hunts, saves time.

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  7. Have you considered treeless? There are several dealers on the Yahoo Treeless Saddle Group who have demo models you can try at a modest fee and return without penalty. I bought my first used treeless from someone on the group and it fit my draft cross (and me) beautifully. I lucked out!

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  8. My mare has a broad back as well, I like to say she's like riding a couch! She's a very sturdy Tenn Walker with broad withers.

    I had to go thru a few saddles before finding one that fit (Abetta synthetic endurance saddle) but I still ride bareback most of the time. I only saddle her up for other people to ride her...

    I find it more fun to ride bareback, warmer on chilly days and more exercise for the ol' abs too! I was amazed at how much stronger my core muscles became after about 4 months of bareback riding 3-4 times a week. We trail ride for about an hour at a time, so it's all balancing with the abs and seat!

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  9. Another vote for Duett Saddles and Trumbull Mountain tack shop. Duetts come in very wide sizes and larger seats all for a reasonable price. Check Ebay for used Duetts too. I ride in treeless saddles now and totally love them, there are probably some that might work for you. You never know until you try!

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  10. You might be interested in the review my blog buddy KK wrote at
    http://allhorsestuff.blogspot.com/2010/11/misty-ride-review-on-thinline-bareback.html

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  11. I have 2 suffolks that I ride and drive. I bought a 20" dressage saddle with a 10" gullet from frontier equestrian thru ebay. I love it and it came with the leathers and irons for less than $350 including shipping halfway across the US. They "specialize" in draft size tack and equipment. It might be worth a look at their site http://www.frontierequestrian.com and then checking them out on ebay.

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  12. Hi Amanda - yes we did use Rachel Argo (didn't realize you'd know!), but she was able to get us both used saddles. Doug's was around $1,700. Still a lot but in very new condition.
    I convinced myself to invest the $ because I / we kept buying saddles that didn't fit or weren't quite right. We had 5 English and 3 western saddles at that point (all bought on sale, or used, etc.)! My plan was only one more saddle for the rest of my horse's life and I think it's going to work.
    I hope the Duett works out for you. It's made a huge difference for me to have a saddle that fits.

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  13. Oh, I dream of the day when I will be able to see that huge difference, Carol! :) The day of the Duett IS coming - it is just a few months out, but in the meantime... all I get is some bareback once in a while. I am starting a second job over the Christmas season specifically to make money to buy a saddle with.

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  14. Amanda ANY time you want to come down here and stay with me (free of charge of course) you are more than welcome to come down and get your butt in as many saddles as you want. I have AT LEAST a dozen (probably more) tack shops within an hour of my house... including the largest one in the north eastern part of north america. and we can take a trip out to Ricks in West Chester,PA (which is a little over an hour)... I will even pick you up from Newark or Philadelphia airport! Seriously... if you are that frustrated you really should come down here. We def could find SOMETHING that would work.

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  15. Hmmmm.... do I smell an East Coast tour coming on?! Tour of Gentle Giants and all the cool ren faires that Analise is involved in and then a jaunt down to NJ to try out saddles?!

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  16. Haha! I'm game! I also have a shore house in southern Delaware we could use (well its my parent's house... but its a house) and visit the wild ponies at Assateague!

    We DEFINITELY have to organize this!

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  17. Hi, Amanda:

    I am way behind the power curve but I wanted to say thank you so much for your blog! I just found it last night. I am a new rider at the age of 39 (just weeks shy of 40) and have fallen in love with the Icelandic horse. I am struggling to get my weight down and I've been really discouraged by some of the comments my trainer has made about the difficulty I am going to have finding an Icelandic who is built for me. It's been pretty tough on my spirit. Finding your blog made me feel better and made me feel like I can do it!
    Dianne

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