Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chewie 09/30 and A Saddle Question

I tacked Chewie for dressage, and we headed to the round pen. Nice easy loose warm up, followed by 15 minutes w/t/c on side reins. I've got them back to using the inside rein one shorter than the outside - he's been leaning out, especially to the right. It's probably his way of avoiding putting weight on that right front, but he needs to learn to trust it. I rode walk and a tiny bit of trot, all sound & satisfying. Total work session about 45 minutes.

Mosquitoes are here, too, and wow are they hungry! Skeeter-monsters.

So, onto my saddle question. I've had a Wintec western saddle for about 3 years. It's still in great shape, but I'm not entirely convinced it fits either of my horses well. I think it's too small in the front for either horse. It might be the pad I'm using, but I somehow doubt it. I think it's more an issue of a small saddle. Paperwork says "Semi QH bars"... I thought it was a 15" seat, but there's a little stamp on one of the girth-keepers that sure looks like "16" to me.

I'm much better at English-style saddles.... I have a Wintec Pro dressage saddle (17"), that's got the "one smaller than the avg gullet" in it - Chewie only. I've also got an HDR eventing saddle (17") that fits Chewie much better than Romeo - it seemed to just sort of lay across Romeo's almost non-existent withers.

What should I be looking for, and better yet, where can I go to find something durable, yet cheap? I think synthetic is okay, but I'd prefer regular leather, for sturdy-ness, if nothing else.



fssunnysd said...

A good used western saddle is a lot more economical than most new ones. If they're well made, and reasonably well taken care of, they can last practically forever.

Do you have the option of borrowing a couple of saddles, maybe from Cowyboy Les and trying them for a few days/week? You may get a better idea of what fits the horses and you both.

Some saddle repair places will also let you borrow a used saddle to try, and/or they might have demo models.

When you do go saddle hunting, if you go in person you can actually make a model of your horses' backs to take along. A saddle maker I watched at a clinic used an architect's tool called a Tru-Flex (about $5-10) to measure each horse for a custom saddle fit. He said you can do the same thing using a coat hanger, or just buy your own tool. Lay it over your horse's withers, mold it into shape, and then trace the result onto some stiff cardboard and cut it out. When you go out to look at saddles, take it with you and stick it into the saddle gullet to get a basic approximation of how it would sit.

I'd love to hear how your search goes - I'm going to be hunting soon myself, I think!

Jennifer said...

I find the hardest part of borrowing saddles is rider fit. All of the western saddles I've crawled into other than my own have been big... so I'm sliding around a lot. :)

The coat hanger is a good idea. One of the shops in Houston does saddle fits.. they're very high-dollar, so I am hoping to learn enough to find "used & cheap" instead.

I will keep blogging about the search, for sure.