I am exhausted. Today was not only farrier day but saddle-fitting day, as well. The saddle fitters came at 11 and left at probably 6:30 or so and I am just beat - they must be, too!
I used Susan and Dave from Saddles That Fit - they are not reps for any saddle company but they work with saddles that they have found over the years fit a wide range of horses. They work with dressage saddles, endurance saddles, and western saddles. I was interested in trying both western and endurance trails on Mac . . . eventually we will get to a point where I'll want a dressage saddle, but for now I want something good for trails and starting a horse. I do have my dressage saddle, which I had her look at, and it looks like it will be ok for now - when he starts to muscle up and fill out more I'll likely have to look for something new, but for now it will be ok.
So we started with a lot of education on western saddle trees and how they are built and the terminology of the parts of the saddle, etc. Then Susan picked out a bunch of saddles to try on his back (without me in the saddle) and then based on that we picked out about 8 saddles for me to ride in. I was exhausted already - that took us about 2 hours to go through his conformation, education, and first pass at saddle fitting. But I still had to ride!
The first two saddles I did NOT like - maybe it was too much between me and Mac (since I'm used to english saddles, I'm used to being closer to the horse), maybe it was because they were new and squeaky or the seat was too big or something but I just didn't like them and I was getting discouraged.
Then we tried a Specialized saddle and I really liked it - it was a black western trail saddle with silver conchos but not too much leather underneath the leg. Mac seemed to do well in it and didn't do his left-leg-biting thing (which he did do in the other saddles), and I liked it, too. The next saddle I tried was also a Specialized, but it was the international model so there was no horn and looked more english.
I liked that one as well and put it on the "yes" list. Tried three to four more but either Mac or I didn't like them so we went back to the two Specialized saddles. Mac's quarter was running out so after two short rides we all decided that the western Specialized saddle was the best.
Susan the saddle fitter was very astute in looking at my position and made the comment that Mac is doing the leg-biting-thing when I'm taking too much contact on my left rein (which I DO do) and suggested I ride him on as loose a rein as possible to see if that helped. It definitely did help, although steering was harder! That is something for me to keep in mind as I work with him. Obviously I want him to learn to go on contact, but it did make a difference so I will be sure to work on that.
So I have the saddle on trial for 7 days. I am betting that it is going to work out but if it doesn't I can send it back to them.
I have decided which saddles to sell so this weekend I will work on getting them on eBay or something so that I can pay for the new saddle I just bought!
Isn't he cute in his western saddle?!