I was dying to ride my horse today. I thought about trying the saddle on her again to see if she had the same reaction she did the other day. When I was having trouble with my saddles before I purchased my new Pessoa, the issues didn't present themselves every time I rode... it just happened on certain days. The more I thought about it, though, the more I decided I didn't want to risk it. If the saddle is uncomfortable for her, I don't want to put in on her back again... at least not until the x-wide gullet arrives. Then I thought about working her in the round pen instead, but that didn't help with the fact that I wanted to ride.
So, I decided to ride bareback! I dressed her (and me) exactly as if we were going on a normal ride, but the saddle stayed in the tack room. It was a bit hot today but I knew if I was bareback she wasn't going to get ridden as hard. We did our normal warm-up routine and she did very well. We trotted quite a bit and then I decided to go ahead and canter. I really do love my horse... she does her very best to do what she's told, while keeping me safe at the same time. I really do need to ride bareback more often because my seat is definitely not what it used to be. I say that every time I ride bareback and then I let months lapse before I ride bareback again. :)
Riding bareback would be good for Lilly too. She is so sensitive that she ends up doing a lot of things I don't want her to do because she thinks I'm cuing her for something. In reality, I'm just holding on for dear life!
Anyway, the point of all this is to share with you that she never ONCE chomped on the bit. She was relaxed, happy, calm, and content the entire ride. Even before the canter, even after the canter, and for the entirety of our ride. Normally she chomps and chomps and chomps... but she is also normally wearing a saddle. If there's a time where she should be nervous or upset, it's when I'm asking her to canter, while at the same time gripping her sides with everything I have!
I have never had a ride on her quite like the one I had today. I've had great rides on her where she seems happy and content, but she was still chewing on that bit. Today, she was in a completely different place.
So now I'm wondering, even though the humans in her life have looked at this Pessoa, even picked it out specifically for her, and said, "yep, that'll fit her perfectly"... does it really fit her the way she wants it to fit her? Is it uncomfortable enough that she shows her discontent by chewing on the bit, and then if it gets too painful she starts exhibiting the usual signs?
Or was today just a big fluke?
Something else I haven't been able to figure out... why, if the saddle doesn't fit her, does she not seem uncomfortable every time it's on her back? Maybe that's where the chomping comes in? But I can ride and ride and ride without issue and then all of a sudden, she is too uncomfortable to move.
I've been reading up on some of the saddle fitting articles because I wanted to make sure I was putting the saddle in the correct spot on her back. The articles say, "...run your hand up from the elbow; a vertical line from that point will run by the edge of the shoulder muscle. Just behind that line is where you want the saddle to lie."
|So here's the vertical line from her elbow...|
|And here's where I put the saddle...|
This picture of the saddle shows the amount of clearance between her withers and the pommel of the saddle. If anything, I think there might be too much, indicating that the saddle is still too narrow for her.
|Too much clearance?|
Do any of you dressage riders out there have any comments regarding how your saddle might fit vs a hunt seat saddle? I have been told that most of the hunt seat saddles on today's market are designed for Thoroughbred type horses with high withers and a more narrow back... not for those horses with beefy shoulders and backs like a table. The dressage saddles, on the other hand, are built for giant Oldenburg horses like the one my BO has. A saddle made for that type of horse would definitely fit my Lilly better than a saddle made for a Thoroughbred.
The potential "problem" here is that the dressage saddle might be just what the doctor ordered, but how can I show hunt seat classes in a dressage saddle?!