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She's Not a Baby Anymore!

Early spring saw some immediate changes in how Ellie carried herself and our dressage work started to truly improve.  There had been times last year where flat work felt like a fight and I wondered to myself if she was ever going to just relax and listen to me haha.

Thankfully, as the title suggests, Ellie has suddenly grown up in front of my eyes.  We have had some really stellar lessons lately, where I feel like I am suddenly able to make things click.  We also had an incredibly frustrating dressage lesson a few weeks ago where Ellie was in rip-roaring peeing heat (not normal for her) and we worked through 45 minutes of her refusing to bend right.  So, ya know, as much as she is improving, she is still an opinionated redheaded mare!  ;-)

But, I have to give her credit because she is really working her little butt off for me!  Sadly, I had not been able to schedule in a jump lesson before our first three-phase, which led to me riding her ridiculously backward at a slow trot the entire …

Saddle Fitting with Nancy Shedrick

So I finally had a chance to get a saddle fitter out here for Dreamy. I knew that her saddle was not fitting her quite as nicely as it did two years ago when I got it. But I was pretty sure I needed help to fix it!

Nancy was easy to contact and we set up a time for last Friday. Thankfully she was free when I was on school vacation, making my life easier. She lives in NH and works all over Northern New England. Click here for her info. She was nice enough to come out here (over 2 hours from her) on a Friday when she normally just works in her shop and does not do appointments!

I realized before she came out that I would not be able to do too much to the saddle to make it only for Dreamy since I use it for Reva too! Uh oh...would we be able to fit it to both horses, seeing as they are built so differently? I was a bit worried. LOL!

I liked Nancy immediately. She seemed down-to-earth and very personable. She examined Dreamy all over and found some rough skin and bumps on each side under her cantle area. Hmmmm....she told me this was something to keep in mind. Nothing else seemed to be wrong upon her initial examination.

We put my (Duett Fidelio dressage) saddle on Dreamy and she asked me to do it and tell me why I put it where I did. I knew immediately it must be wrong but I told her what I had been taught 100 years ago. (She claims she has heard a lot of things.....I bet! LOL) Come to find out I am putting the saddle too far forward onto her large shoulders. It looked so funny when she put it in the right spot! LOL! We talked a lot about why saddles are placed where they are (behind the edge of the shoulder bone) and she had me feel the different bones and whatnot. She even took the saddle off and had me kept my hand on that shoulder blade edge while she lifted Dreamy's leg. She wanted me to note where the bone went, where would it move? I expected it to bulge out towards my palm and move forward. It actually fell away and moved sideways and back! LOL! Wow, what an education.

We talked about how the saddle fit and how to tell. I learned more about saddle fit with Nancy in 1.5 hours than I learned my entire 25 years with horses! LOL! It is crazy that most of us have no real idea how to fit a saddle. She had me looking at the saddle points, the wither clearance, rocking and bridging, where a girth should be (not right behind the elbow like I was taught!) and just everything. I loved it! I loved how willing she was to share her knowledge with me. I like a practitioner who wants to leave their client more educated rather than be the "expert" and keep the client in the dark. I appreciate it so much!

So my dressage saddle is sadly too wide for Dreamy now. She needs a medium wide rather than a wide. She is older, obviously, but also is just changing her body shape and topline as she gets older. And truthfully who knows if I even measured her correctly when I bought the saddle! LOL (I did a wither and back tracing, sent it to Trumbull Mountain and they sent me saddles to try.) So there is some rocking from cantle to pommel, which is why we saw that rough skin under her cantle area.

Then Nancy had me pull out Reva to see what the saddle looked like on her. It actually fit her much better, with just a very small amount of rocking. We fixed that with a regular sheepskin pad, a brand she sells. Nancy was hesitant to do much to the saddle itself since Reva will potentially change A LOT as she grows and matures. She said if Reva was 9-10 years old, it would be different. But for now, the easiest thing is to fix it with the pad. And it works great.

So, back to Dreamy. She basically told me I needed a new saddle for Dreamy, which was a bummer. I had worried she might say that. I asked if we could just fix it with my new Mattes correction pad. She said that would be fine for a temporary fix, but not forever. She is a fitter for Custom Saddlery but will fit any saddle. She happened to have an older Custom in her car she thought might work, so we tried it on Dreamy just to get an idea. It fit her MUCH better, but it did not have wool flocked and gusseted panels, but rather foam. :( And Dreamy needs the deeper gusseted panels to fit her. SO.....while the saddle fit her about 90% (and my current saddle is about a 60%), it was not something I would buy.

(Just to note, while it was an older model from the early 1990's, Nancy told me that she would totally refurbish the saddle before she sold it. I mean, it looked OLD to me, with lots of greyish areas and such. She looked at me funny and was like, "No way would I sell a saddle like this! I clean it up, dye it, clean the metal, etc." That made me feel so good! If I can buy a saddle through Nancy, although it may be used, she will refurbish the entire thing! It truthfully it probably will have to be used!)

So anyway, Nancy did fix up the shims in my Mattes pad for Dreamy. And it fits her well. But I know I cannot do that forever because it is just too wide. She could narrow the tree, but then I cannot use it on Reva. Uggggg!!!! And I ended up just buying the regular sheepskin pad she used for Reva instead of having to take the shims in an out of my Mattes pad. I mean, I could do that, but what a pain. And what if I do not exactly get the shims back in like Nancy did??? I rather leave them where they are and not worry! LOL!

So anyway, while Nancy may not have had "good" news about my current saddle, she was so fun to work with. I look forward to working with her in the future. Her farm call and evaluation were so reasonably priced that there is NO reason why I should EVER ride without a fitted saddle. Thank you Nancy! And if you are in Northern New England, I HIGHLY recommend her!

So the saddle hunt begins. Looking for a 17" medium wide dressage saddle with wool gusseted panels. If you see anything, send me the link!

Comments

  1. Saddle fit is very difficult - it sounds like you had a really excellent session with someone who knows what they're talking about. I have a 17.5 Kieffer that I need to sell - but I expect it's too wide and too big for you.

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  2. Johnny is practically IMPOSSIBLE to fit for saddles, but I had a lot of success with the Dover circuit brands...they seem to fit the "Standardbred" shoulder really well...you might look there!

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