I could write about Opie's CTJ on the longe line after BM complained about him being The Worst outside, but...I don't know. The CTJ wasn't anything special, and the reason I put him back to "work" even though it's colder than I would want to do anything with him in is not something I'm ready to tackle mentally yet. If I don't see him do anything, is he really being Satan? (The answer is yes.)
On to the bulk of that $4k+ tack shopping category!
|not always the best. sometimes the worst.|
but that saddle tho.
I rode in the Stubben Roxanne I bought March '17 most of last year on Bobby. It's a nice saddle. It's comfy--especially for a lower end Stubben--it fit Bobby fantastically, and it was by far the nicest piece of tack I'd ever owned.
However, I struggled with my position in it far more than I ever did with my Tekna. It wasn't the worst for sitting the trot, but it was impossible for me to post in it, and it never felt like the best fit in the seat size. I was determined to make it work because I bought it and I had it, but once I got Opie and pulled it back out for the first time in awhile, I only rode in it one more time before pushing it aside for my ancient jump saddle.
|hot mess express. trying to heft my ass out of the saddle was ridiculous.|
Since I want to show primarily in dressage (and personally I think a dressage saddle is a thousand times more comfortable to ride in on the daily anyway, but that just might be my crippled knees talking), I wanted to make getting a new saddle a priority.
Once an idea is in my head, I can't just sit and wait on it. There are no local (or even semi-local) tack stores around here that carry dressage saddles for me to try. Trust me, I asked. I have a really long thigh and finding something that my knee doesn't blast over the flap has always been hard for me. I have next to no knowledge of what types of saddle work best for what rider, and while research left me with a list I really didn't want to end up with another Roxane problem--a lovely saddle that fit either myself or the horse, but not both and now I can't sell the thing.
Having never done so before, I put the question out to the world of Facebook on what the cost of demoing saddles is. You guys gave me some fantastic responses and I felt confident that at least was something I could afford to get done right away, and then I could keep an eye out on whatever the fitter recommended.
|look at all the pretties. LOOK AT THEM.|
I ended up starting with (and, uhh, finishing...okay, never moving on from) County at the recommendation of a local rider that gave me tons of great advice and recommendations when I moved up here. The rep was fantastic to work with--friendly, great with communication, knowledgeable, patient with Opie having all of a dozen rides off the track when she came out, and she never once tried to shove her product down my throat. I didn't feel pressured into buying anything from her, and she went above and beyond to make sure I got what I wanted.
She started off taking a tracing of Opie and then went right to pulling out saddles.
We started with the Competitor, but the flap didn't feel forward enough and alongside my knee shooting off the edge, we agreed that I was basically stuffed into the thing and a bigger set size wasn't going to help there.
Next up was the Fusion. This one had the external knee blocks which I'd never ridden with before. I was ready to be wowed. I loved the look of it, and Opie immediately moved off better than he ever had. The blocks didn't do it for me though. I felt like my knee was banging into them, and the flap still didn't seem forward enough. I told Rep upfront I was not going custom and needed something to fit me essentially off the rack. On to the next.
The Connection was like butt magic the second I swung my leg over. The seat was roomy, the flap was forward, the blocks were unobtrusive, and Opie was moving freely and happily. I told her it was my favorite hands down, but she wanted me to try the last model just in case.
|oh, that's how your leg is supposed to hang. and it shouldn't be impossible to post?|
what a concept!
I was in and out of the Perfection in less than a lap. It was my least favorite of the four, and after riding in the Connection I didn't even bother making my thus far impeccably well behaved baby horse go around yet again.
The saddle I demoed was a 17.5" medium tree in bull leather. I loved everything about it, but Rep told me the bull was almost $1k more than the elephant print. I wasn't totally sold on it because even the price of a demo with the elephant was astronomical for my little baby budget, so she dug out a weirdly sized 17" wide tree with the elephant print, and after checking to make sure the tree worked for Opie, told me to keep it until she was back up probably in a week and see what I thought about it, no strings attached.
I put in a couple of rides, and even though the seat was a bit too small for me (while the 18" Stubben was way too small for me, the 17.5" County is perfection), the difference in Opie and the ease of holding my position and working my body parts sold me.
|it just cuddles my leg and i love it. #obsessed|
I told the Rep I wanted it, she sent in the order to the County office, and they shipped me the 17.5" wide tree from another rep in two days. Rep came out shortly thereafter to fit it specifically for Opie. It needed a little lift in the right for his less developed shoulder, and she told me to use a Mattes pad for a couple weeks until he truly filled in the wide tree. Uh, yeah. Four years old, two months off the track with not a whole lot of rides, and he was rocking a wide comfortably. Though he be but little, he is
My mom generously donated a large chunk of change for Christmas that paid off a third of it, we were able to budget in another third, and County financed the last third which we plan on paying off in full by March. I sold my jump saddle to BM since it turned out to be way too narrow, and with the proceeds bought my own Mattes half pad (having been borrowing one from a generous barn mate) and a 22" Total Saddle Fit girth since Bobby's 28" memory foam girth was swallowing Opie whole.
|i maybe also stuck with county because it's riding bestie's fave and i trust her judgement|
It's hands down the most money I've ever paid for anything besides my truck. It's more than I paid for my horse trailer. It's more than three times the amount I paid for my horse. ALL of my horses! That makes me a little twitchy sometimes when I spiral down the whole "What if I paid too much?" "What if I could have found it cheaper somewhere else?" "What if there's a better saddle out there that's cheaper AND works better?"
And maybe all of those things are true, but it's the saddle I have and mostly paid for, and hot damn is it comfy and dreamy and makes my horse move like a unicorn. It can't be all bad!
|of course i haven't sat in it in two weeks, but it's still nice to|
Have you guys ever demoed saddles before? Any brand preferences? Do you make