It’s been a little while since my last update but my excuse is I’ve been having far too much fun riding in my new saddle. I left you last with a beautifully finished saddle cleaned up and ready to go out for the fit.
One morning about 2 months ago, Nikki and I ventured to the yard armed with a bridle and the new saddle. This is the fun part, all the hard work was done in the original fitting, there may be a need for a little tweak in the flocking but in most cases even this isn’t necessary.
First we placed the saddle on Rambo with no pad and no girth to check for the general feel and fit, at this point it is normal for the saddle to sit pommel high due to the wool flocking needing to settle, but Nikki reassured me by checking the symmetry of the angle of the tree points again where the saddle lies behind his scapula. When the saddle is girthed there is already a notable difference in the way the saddle sits and after 15 minutes of being ridden in the wool has started to mould to the horse’s back. As the wool flock settles so there is optimum contact and spread of weight across the saddle and panel. We took as series of photos at each stage so you can see the difference.
In Rambo’s case not only did the saddle sit high but there seemed to be a little bridging, this again is due to the new flock, but it is also important to note that many horses back profiles come up whilst being ridden which is why you cannot assess saddle fit on purely a static approach. Happy with the rest of the fit we popped on a regular cotton pad and a bridle and went to the school to bed in the flock and see how it rode.
Nikki asked me to warm up and school normally for around 10 minutes, in all paces, she watched for any movement of the saddle, pivoting or movement side to side and my own position and balance. She then asked me to trot round the school towards her and then turn and trot away from her so she could be sure there was no side to side movement, this was repeated several times on a square figure of 8 exercise. She is also looking for any reaction from the horse; positive or negative, and the rider feedback is equally as important, though I can safely say I was beaming the whole time. As this is a jump saddle it was also necessary for me to trial it over some fences to make sure that the seat balance and blocks supported me.
Once we were happy with the way the saddle sat, ungirthed, girthed and ridden in I got off for a final check. The saddle was now sitting in the perfect position the only slight tweak was to add little more flock in to the middle to make sure there was no chance of bridging. This is why it is important to have this second fit, although the saddle would have been fine as it was, the beauty of a wool flocked panel allows for that little extra fine tuning making it the perfect fit.
The forward flap has made a huge difference to me, I am now in a great position as my gangly legs have the room to move forward to where they need to be without me compensating by sitting further back in the seat. Rambo has also started to mouth and foam on the bit and lift through his back, he can now concentrate on his schooling as he is comfortable to do so.
A beautiful a custom made saddle for both my horse and myself in 4 weeks from start to finish and what a difference it is already making. I am looking forward now to some good summer weather so I can get out there competing and show it off!