Wednesday, February 23, 2011

She's Not A Pony, She's A Princess

Lilly had her appointment with the saddle fitter this afternoon. Other than the fact that I managed to lock myself in the trailer with Lilly, it went off without a hitch. A word of advice... always make sure to carry the keys to the pass-through door no matter what! Thank goodness I hadn't shut Lilly's window yet. :)

We got to the fitter at 1 pm, filled out the paperwork, showed our Coggins, and got to work. Doesn't she look happy to be getting a new saddle?

All this for me?!
The saddle fitter was super nice and seemed very knowledgeable. I spoke with her at length on the phone but told her again what I'd been seeing with Lilly. She found the staggering interesting and said she was torn by wanting to see it, but not wanting to see it since Lilly would be uncomfortable. She did some pushing on Lilly's back to see if she had any sore areas but Lilly didn't react at all. She was busy checking out the geldings in the pasture behind the horse trailer.

She said there were indeed a few challenges to fitting a saddle to Lilly. She said she has a really short back, is a bit croup high, and while she has decent withers, she said she's pretty thick on each side of them. We put Lilly's Collegiate saddle on her bare back and she said she didn't see anything glaringly wrong. It fit nicely on her back, didn't rock, was pretty straight, and overall didn't look bad at all.

After much pondering and more discussion, we decided the issue must be with the wider areas around her withers. The way my saddle is padded, it looks like it might sit on them just so, causing her to become uncomfortable after a period of riding. Short rides don't seem to be an issue most of the time, it's when we're showing and I've been riding and sitting on her for a longer period of time.

The way she acts, you'd swear she was in awful pain and the fitter commented that perhaps Lilly isn't very stoic... that perhaps she's a bit of a princess instead. That's my girl!!

It's good to know the saddle didn't fit her as poorly as I was afraid it did, but I was worried that would make finding a saddle that put less pressure on those areas difficult. We tried 6 different saddles and I rode in 4 of them.

The first was a Collegiate Convertible Diploma ($1,000) with a medium-wide tree that seemed to fit her okay, but I hated the way I felt in the saddle. It felt like it was pushing me forward and the seat wasn't comfortable at all.

The next one I tried was a Black Country Ricochet ($2425) with a medium-wide tree and it was amazing. For the first time ever I felt like I was sitting IN the saddle instead of ON the saddle. There was a lot of it, though, and I didn't feel like I had good contact with Lilly. It has a padded flap, knee blocks, and a calf blocks so I had a difficult time asking her for things. Apparently, those saddles are custom made to order.

The next saddle was a Pessoa Gen X XCH (meaning it has an adjustable tree) ($1395), with a medium tree. The fitter felt that this saddle fit her the best of all the saddles and it was okay as far as comfort, but after having sat my behind in the Black Country, it felt a bit stiff. It also had foam flocking instead of wool, which she said wasn't as easy to adjust as wool should we run into an issue later on down the road.

The final saddle was a Pessoa A/O AMS XCH ($2395) with a wide tree. We started out with the medium tree in this one, and then decided to try it with the wide. It was SO comfortable, and while it has molded knee pads (I don't usually like those) and a calf block, I didn't feel as disconnected as I did in the Black Country. This saddle got thumbs up from the saddle fitter, Lilly, and me, so it's the one I brought home.

Sent from angels!
This saddle is a demo, so it's a little beat, but it's also nicely discounted. I'm trying to decide if I want to keep this one or go ahead and splurge for a new one. The prices at this tack store are a bit higher than what I could get it for online (about $250) but there's the benefit of no shipping. Plus, these saddles only come with the medium tree and you have to purchase the wide tree and install it yourself. So for about $350 more I can have a brand new one that will last me forever, or until I get a new horse that inevitably will have a completely different back this saddle won't fit.

The fitter said they normally let the saddles stay out on trial for 5 days, but she's going to be sneaky and give me a few more days to try it out. We couldn't get Lilly to show off her "get this saddle off my back" dance so I have no idea if it's because this saddle fits her or if she was just having a good day. The real test will be when we go to a show and I use my beloved number pad.

Not sure what everyone thinks about Pessoa... I know a few people who think they're awful (at least the new ones), but the leather is really soft, the seat is comfortable, and it looks like a quality saddle to me. Most importantly, it seems to fit my mare. I do find it amazing that one style of Pessoa fits Lilly with a medium tree and another style requires a wide tree. How in the heck is anyone supposed to find a saddle that fits without trying them all on first? I guess if you have a "normal" horse there's less issue, but I couldn't believe how many different tree sizes we tried on her.

She offered to take a look at my western saddle as well, although she said she doesn't know much about western saddles. The general principles should be the same on all saddles, so she gave me her educated guess. She thinks the saddle fits Lilly fine... there wasn't the tightness around her withers like there was with my english saddle, so she wasn't sure why Lilly wasn't happy with this one. She thinks that since Lilly acts the same way in all the saddles that it's most likely because of the same reason (wide around the withers) so we talked about different pads I could use to gently lift the saddle off her back a little bit without creating too much padding. She said she wouldn't give up on that saddle just yet.

I still think I want to sell that one and the Circle Y so I can get a new western saddle that I can use for work and show, but I'll ponder it some more. In either case, my western shims must go, along with the wither relief pad I've been using for my english saddle... my new western felt pad needs to go too, not to mention my Collegiate Lynn Palm CC saddle. Any takers? :)

So let's hope I've found a saddle Lilly and I both love!!


  1. She might even be a Pessoa Princess Pony! Pretty saddle! I know nothing about them, sorry.

    I'm sorry your saddle didn't sell this time. It's such a crap-shoot. Are there any spring tack swaps in your area? They seem to be everywhere around here. Some of my barn friends and I got a table together at one in mid-March to see if we can unload some of our old stuff.

  2. Fingers crossed to you!

    For the western saddle, Sarah always tells me its imperative that the saddle is off their shoulders therby allowing them full range of motion. In fact, she had be shim up just the center of the saddle, making it sit level on the back, lift off the shoulders as well. But I wouldnt necessarily suggest shimming to a horse or person I cant see in person or watch ride. I hope you can get someone to help out with the western saddle.

  3. Hehe!! I like it! Triple P!! :)

    Yeah, I might list it again and start it lower. I had 15 watchers and really thought someone would bid on the darn thing. Now I need to list my old english saddle too.

    There are a couple tack swaps coming up this weekend, but I'll have to keep my eyes out for something later so I have time to get my stuff together.

  4. I missed your comment, Milo!

    That's kind of what the fitter was saying about my western saddle. She said maybe when I'm riding on the trails and we're going up and down the saddle is shifting around too much on her back. It's got clearance, but not much and if I got a built up pad instead of those giant, funny shaped shims, it might sit the saddle up high enough to keep Lilly happy.

    There are a few western places not terribly far from me that would do a fitting, so once I get the english stuff figured out I'll probably haul her out there to take care of the western saddle.

  5. Lilly is certainly a Princess!
    I don't know anything about Pessoa saddles, but Pessoa blankets are my favorite for Paj. They fit him perfectly and are very well made. He has them in 4 different weights, 'cause he's a Prince.

  6. Isn't saddle fitting great? I feel so much better now that we have saddles that fit our horses. Keep us posted on how it works out.

  7. I have a Pessoa Roderigo - they're one of the few close contact saddles that provide good shoulder relief for most horses - the stirrup bars are positioned differently and don't tend to pinch as much.

    Hope you find something that works well for the "princess"!

  8. I think the Pessoa is beautiful. I dunno-I always heard they were very nice saddles. But there are western saddle companies that used to be known for high quality saddles and their new ones are not nearly as nice as the old ones, so I think it's kind of a universal quality control problem.

    I just spent $180 on a new Tod Slone wool pad for Moon and wouldn't you doesn't fit him. Fits other horses though, so I guess I'll be keeping it.

    Right after I had ordered the TS pad, I found a Reinsman wool pad that has pockets behind the withers that has removable foam inserts. It's designed for horses whose backs fall away behind the withers causing saddle fit issues. You can remove or add the inserts to build up that area so the front of the saddle is not resting soley on the shoulder. I guess I will be buying that one next time I go to town. Hopefully it's still there, so I don't have to order it. I hope I never have another horse as difficult as Moon has been to get things right.

  9. What a fun day! Id LOVE to do something like that! Around here though? HA! Never heard of a saddle fitter. Boo. Anyway, the pessoa is beautiful! I've always heard they were really great quality saddles. When are you riding in it again??

  10. Hope your saddle sells quickly too, although this is the third round on eBay even with a price cut for mine...thats the pit when people are watching but no one bids. :( Boo. But I wanted to add too how CUTE Lilly looks in that photo! :)

  11. I personally like Pessoas. I have also heard that the new ones are awful, but I have ridden in both of the Pessoas you mentioned before, and liked them. My horse does not though. I had to go full custom for him and get a County custom made and fit to him, he's tough to fit too. More hollow on one side, narrow somewhat high withers, and wide everywhere else. Not to mention he's got old scars/issues from poor saddle fit as a 2-3 year old, so that makes him extra sensitive. Maybe Lily had some previous saddle problems before you got her and its causing her to be extra sensitive now?

  12. Our horses are royalty, aren't they Terry? :)

    I feel so much better now Carol. Once I get a new western saddle that I know fits her, and have some time to try them out I'll be SO happy!

    Kate, that's how this saddle is too. The way the saddle is padded is different than a lot of the other saddles and Lilly has a lot more room around her withers before the saddle starts to make contact. Hopefully this is the one!

    Cowgirls, I think the new Pessoas are made in Argentina but from what I've read they're still being made with French leather and quality materials... I think they're doing better with them now than they were when they first started making them in Argentina.

    All I know is I love it and hopefully Lilly still continue to like it too. :) Good luck with your saddle pad... sounds like you're having as much fun as I am!

    Thanks, Britnie! We had a fun day... we worked with the fitter for about 4 hours, so it was a learning experience for sure. I'm hoping to ride in it on Saturday with M so I can see how she does on a long-ish trail ride. We're supposed to get rain tomorrow so no riding then. :(

    I relisted all my saddles too, Milo. Maybe this time they'll sell. eBay is usually a quick way to sell my stuff but I haven't been having much luck lately. I found your listing and that's a nice saddle! Hopefully someone buys it this time around.

    Chelsea, I've had Lilly since she was a foal, so if she's got back issues that would also be my fault. The saddles I've used on her haven't changed much in the last few years and she's ok according to the chiropractor... I hope this new saddle that gives her a little more space around the withers will do the trick.

  13. Beautiful saddle!! I'm catching up on your posts, so I hope that Lilly likes it too!

  14. Beautiful saddle and adorable pony face.