Can I officially say that I am over saddle shopping? 🤣
I found a great deal on an 18″ 34cm Prestige Eventer from VTO Saddlery. It shipped super quickly, and I had it to try on Saturday.
My stubben Dressage saddle is a 34cm, so I had some hope. The saddle was beautiful, but the seat was pretty hard. I didn’t think much of it. At this point, if it fits both of us, I will buy it. I would buy a seat cover if I had to to make it more comfortable.
I threw it on May and took some pics.
Hmmmm the reddish color of the leather was actually quite pretty on May.
It sits up a bit, but not terribly (for May and the way she’s built). Alright then.
I liked the width down the gullet.
Then I slid my hand down the panel…. and it gapped like no ones business from front to back. Like, I could see daylight. Here’s my attempt at a picture.
Pffffff nope. Back in the box it went, and I gave VTO a call to tell them I would be returning it.
Any other ideas? Reached out to trumball mountain to see if they can help. I would love to try an Amerigo, but I cannot find an 18″ Wide tree to try (or a rep) to save my life.
A combined series of events put my saddle hunt on hold for a couple of week, but on Friday a Black Country Solare showed up at my door. I knew literally nothing about this saddle other than it might fit my horse and work for me.
It showed up absolutely beautiful. Black with blue piping and blue stitching? Count me in!
The leather was great quality, and it was well equipped with two pairs of D rings and blocks.
My only concern was it looked a touch narrow, but I figured it was close enough for a test ride.
Overall, it looked a bit high in front but sat level, and it didn’t seem especially tight around the shoulders. I took it for a few test rides, and they all ended with some variation of the below sweat marks. However, May seemed to like the saddle. She even stood completely still at the mounting block, something we have always struggled with.
For me, the saddle fit my legs great. I felt it helped me keep my ankle in line with my hip, and it helped my leg stay steady over fences. See below for one of the first jumps we have jumped in about 4 months. To me, the greatest compliment I can give a jump saddle is that I don’t think about it when I am jumping, and I didn’t have to with this one. A saddle that holds me in or pushes me out of balance is a big no no. One that makes me feel like I can do what I need to, while supporting me is awesome.
However, then I watched this video is slow motion, and I saw the below:
My leg is in a great position, but the saddle is clearly grabbing at May’s shoulders. Damn… If you watch it in even slower motion, you will see the saddle snap back down onto May’s back as she extends her front end forward. Definitely not ideal, and not something I would want to have happening on a regular basis. Our distance to this jump was good, if not a touch long, and I would hate to see what this saddle would do at a tight spot or over uneven ground on cross country. Unfortunately, that means I had to pass on this one too…
Then, I noticed some swelling/irritation around those dry spots, and I decided it really wasn’t wide enough for poor May. (good sport about it though!)
I give this saddle a solid 8/10. Leather and balance was great for me, but I am still not 100% sure a wider tree would be right for May. I’m still debating buying a new one, in the wider tree, but I have a few other things to try first. Next up – a 34cm 18″ Prestige saddle.
As for why May is wearing a fly mask? Well I showed up to the barn a couple of weeks ago to find this:
A nice swollen, dripping eye. She ended up having a small scratch, and I am riding her in the fly mask as a precaution. The vet has seen it twice, and it appears to be fully resolved at this point. Small speed bumps really can slow you down!
Technically, this should have been the 2nd saddle trial, but I will get to why it doesn’t qualify at all in a minute.
I saw a great deal on ebay for a CWD saddle, 18″ on a 5″ tree (aka a wide). Every saddle fitter I have spoken to says that while May has big shoulders, she is not an incredible wide, backed horse. To be honest, I believe them because the wither tracings I have do not show a table-backed horse. The CWD was worn with some cosmetic issues, but I was assured it was in sound, use-able condition, and for the price, I could afford to fix the issues it had. It even came with a 14 day trial! Cool.
First Red Flag – The box showed up and was basically random strips of cardboard taped together with packing tape. No Joke. Check This Out.
Second Red Flag – The return address on the UPS label had been completely torn off.
I kept telling myself that I bought from a seller through eBay with PayPal protection and that the ability to return the saddle was clearly written into the terms, but I am not going to say that didn’t make my stomach tie up in knots. I opened up the box, stuck my hand under the pommel to pull the saddle out… and I immediately knew it was too narrow. I didn’t even have to look at it because my hand barely fit between the panels.
How narrow? 4″ dot to dot instead of 5″ dot to dot.
The difference? Basically my wide saddle just became a narrow… Damn. Other than that, leather was beautiful (despite being miscolored, as expected), and everything seemed sound about it. Unfortunately, that tree was never going to fit on my horse. I let the seller know, and she told me it did measure as a 5″ tree and that I should try it anyway… I emailed her back a few hours later to tell her it didn’t work and that I would like to return it.
I got a return label quickly and was able to ship the saddle back.
Third Red Flag – The return label was to a different city/state than where the saddle came from.
Oh well. It was provided by eBay from the seller, so that was where the saddle was going. It shipped back quickly, and I received a refund for everything I spent almost as soon as the saddle was returned.
I am not sure how to rate this one. It was a total fail that locked up almost my entire budget for more than a week for a product I couldn’t even sit in. However, the whole return process was easy enough. I am going to give it a 5/10. Disappointing, but luckily not disastrous.
Made the decision to shave May’s mane off this weekend. After a somewhat hot but VERY humid day on Saturday, I realized that her big thick mane was probably going to cause us some grief as the temperature heats up. So off it came!
I will say that May’s one big flaw is she DOES NOT like clippers. The first time I ever turned them on near her, she threw herself back against the back of the stall, and I couldn’t even touch her with them. However, thanks to a lot of patience and cookies this weekend, we were able to get it done… but it doesn’t look at pretty as I would like.
Oh well! Hair grows back. below is our new “through the ears” view, if you didn’t catch it on instagram.