Exciting stuff: the saddler came out much sooner than expected, last night in fact, and brought with him a whole array of beautiful dressage saddles for me to try. He first had a look at my wintec, and couldn’t really see why it was slipping, but accepted that something obviously happens when I ride in it. He said that once a customer has lost faith in a saddle, it’s usually best to just ‘bite the bullet’ and get a different one. I am really starting to agree with this idea now.
He must have tried about 10 saddles on her, ranging from medium width to wide, but in the end, only one fitted perfectly – a Black Country dressage saddle in medium/wide. It is so beautiful! We took her up to the school in it, so I could try it out for a bit. Several things were against us: I had clipped her on Sunday and lo and behold, it turned FREEZING cold yesterday, so she was a little bit fresh; it was dark and last time I rode in the school with the lights on I had to work very hard to convince her that there were in fact no monsters lurking in the trees. Also, there was a little pressure to get on with it, rather than take quite as long as I usually do on a free rein, as I didn’t want to bore the poor man! Oh – and of course there was the fact that she was wearing a leather dressage saddle for the first time in her life, with no numnah and it must have felt very weird!
She was very good, given the circumstances. She was a little tense and unsure of the feel of the saddle, but she felt nice and free through the shoulders and moved nicely in it. It felt incredible – it felt like I’d come home, as I originally trained only in dressage saddles. We walked, trotted and cantered on both reins, with only a little bit of spooking and a bit of bucking when I first asked for a canter on the right rein. When I came to a halt, the saddle settled in a central position (unlike the wintec last time I rode in it) but he said that because of the poor light, he couldn’t see whether it was moving at all as I was riding. Obviously, this is very important, but the floodlights in the school are not very powerful.
What he has decided to do is leave the saddle with me for the rest of the week so that I can ride in it a few times and see how she goes. This is really helpful – I don’t think you can tell from one session. He also said that I should ride in the daylight at the weekend with some ‘knowledgeable’ people with me, so that they can see if it moves at all.
I don’t know much about buying saddles, but this seems like a really good service: I’ve not paid him anything yet and he’s said that I can make him an offer for it at the end of the week, or I can give it back if I don’t like it. I am really trying not to get too excited, as if it isn’t perfect, I’m not going to spend a fortune on it, but I can’t wait to ride her again tomorrow! Fingers crossed! I’ll take some photos at the weekend and see what you think!