Sorry for the lack of posts in the last couple of weeks. After my excellent lesson with John, we had a small setback in the form of a sore back. I went out for a lovely long hack a couple of days after my lesson and when I was brushing her the next day, I noticed a small lump on her back and she was very tender under it. On closer inspection, the lump had formed into a little scab, and then I noticed that there was a symmetrical one the other side. This made it pretty clear that it was the saddle. I just lunged her that day, but she didn’t look terribly comfortable, so I stopped and realised I would need to give her some time off to heal the bruised part of her back.
I felt so awful. She definitely hadn’t been sore before that, as I check her back every day, so I guess she’s probably grown a bit and with the added element of a long hack, probably just tipped it over the edge. Luckily, a saddler was coming out the next day, so I arranged for him to check the fit of Echo’s saddle too.
Now, I know very little about saddle-fitting. I’m ashamed to admit this, but it’s true – just like I know very little about farriery and veterinary science. When this is the case, one puts a great deal of faith in professionals that are trained in these areas. Bearing in mind that Echo’s saddle was fitted a year ago and has been checked three times since then, the last time being about 3 months ago, I didn’t expect to be told on Monday that the saddle did not fit her at all. If she had grown a little and it wasn’t quite sitting correctly any more, then I would understand, but it didn’t fit AT ALL.
The new saddler said that it’s very short for her, meaning that the surface area is not very big, causing it to put pressure on her back in the wrong place. He also pointed out that it’s far too small for me, and therefore it puts me at the back of it, meaning that there is extra pressure at that point. He also said that it is too narrow for her. Great. I have been making my horse uncomfortable. He couldn’t fit a new one to her, as her back was so sore, but he did place another saddle on her back and it was two inches longer than mine – he said that she can easily carry an 18” saddle and that this would fit me much better. It’s a Wintec VSD, so has a slightly straighter cut than my old one, but can still be used for jumping.
Several girls at my yard have had to get new saddles because the ones fitted by the other guy have made their horses lame. I know professionals exist on their reputations, so I don’t want to be too outspoken about this, but I was so annoyed. I know Echo has grown, but it seems very unlikely that it fitted properly in the first place.
So, for the last two weeks I have been bathing the scabs daily in hibiscrub, coating her back in arnica and doing no riding. At last, the tenderness has completely gone and I was able to lunge her on Tuesday. She looked so much more comfortable. The new saddler is coming out on Monday (my bank account is not going to like it…) and hopefully then we should be back on track again.
Lessons to be learned: gain as much knowledge as you can yourself – you can’t put complete trust in professionals. Poor Echo.