AND I have gotten a chance to ride in it!
I am just going to say it right now: I am never, ever trying to buy a "non" name brand saddle again. The difference in craftsmanship, leather quality, EVERYTHING, is so significant. Sure, I had to expand my budget a little bit, but I think I mentioned in my last entry that I had a wonderful experience with a seller who was willing to work with me. (So Nora, if you're reading this, thank you again! I know I've said it a million times, but I'd keep saying it!)
I picked it up at my postbox across the border on Tuesday, the 4th, but in my excitement, even though I knew (believe me, I kept reading the specs on the saddle over and over) that it is rigged for a dressage girth, I "forgot" and so didn't have a suitable girth to use... so it sat in my living room on my saddle rack while I admired it from across the room until Saturday morning when I was finally able to get to a local tack shop and pick one up.
I ended up with a 26", which WILL girth up and go up several holes, but I am told is a little too short. Anyways - I had to get a girth and that was the only option I had and if I didn't get something soon, I was going to strap it down with balertwine and sit in it! With the holidays and troublesome weather on the East coast, it took just short of three weeks to arrive, so I was pretty anxious.
So Saturday rolled around and I headed to town, went to the gym, picked up the girth, ate some sushi, headed home, and immediately changed my clothes and headed out to the barn. We've been getting some snow, so I knew I couldn't do too much but I needed to at least SIT in that saddle!
Anyways... this is what you're all here for! The pictures!
For comparison's sake, I am first going to refresh your memory with a couple of pictures from the 18" Thorowgood that I bought a while back. The extended panels were too long for her short, stout back, and she was pinched at the shoulders. It also really didn't fit me, like, at all.
Now, the new saddle!
If that doesn't look like a happy horse, I don't know what does!
I normally am very cautious riding in the snow but I was so excited about this saddle and the obvious difference in how easily and pleasantly she moved out that I just had to see what a canter in a well fitted saddle felt like. We have not done a lot of canter, DUE to the saddle issues we have had because of slipping (anyone remember me getting deposited on my head at the canter from a saddle that slipped all the way around Bronwyn's belly?) and also due to the ill fitting saddles, she had some issues (ducking, veering, etc) when we weren't in a roundpen in a "forced" circle.
We took off up through the snow... straight, balanced, comfortable and SO MUCH FUN.
I have had a few offers to buy this saddle from me (before I even got a chance to sit in it) but I have said more than once that I love this one so much I think I might have it buried with me, haha! If anything, it is a smidge too wide for Bronwyn, but I would rather a little too wide than too narrow, and still a little tight for me but I think it works for the length of my leg, just gotta work some of my butt off.
Now I feel that I can finally move forward instead of just floundering around in the same place. I have things I need to work on (hands out of my crotch, no piano hands, and eyes up, to name a few things!) and I feel like I can work on those now that I am not obsessively thinking "Is this saddle hurting my horse? Is this causing her pain?" - I feel like I can comfortably spend more time in the saddle now - it's refreshing and makes 2011 seem pretty bright and exciting to me!