Finally an update about how the new saddle is working out. There are a lot of things I LOVE about it. I love how relaxed my horse was today. I love that I can feel his shoulders moving as we go down hills and know that they're not being pinched. I love that it makes me work a little harder to keep my seat (more on that in a minute). I love that it's totally secure in all situations so far, even with a loose cinch. I love that it stays in place when I mount from the ground. I very much love its light weight (15 lbs).
Two important issues I need to solve if I'm going to keep it. It hurts my hips because it's too wide in the front of the seat. I'm hoping there's something that can be done to fix it. The second thing that is a worry is that his back was slightly drier under where I sit than in front and back when I got off after 4.6 miles today. He also flinched very slightly in that area when my sister checked him for pain after our ride, but he didn't tonight. I've never tested for pain after a ride in a treed saddle so I don't know if this is better or worse, but the slightly drier spot has me a little concerned. I'm going to call the maker tomorrow and talk to him about my troubles. I want to keep this saddle. But I'm not totally sold yet.
As for it's stability - it's interesting. The "tree" is made of thick foam, as is the cantle. So when I get slightly behind Tonka's movement it gives, where a normal saddle would hold. So I lose my balance slightly more and have to correct. I've already noticed that I'm staying more balanced. I wonder how often I was losing my balance and not even noticing with the hard saddle to do the work of supporting me.
That said, it is not at all scary to ride up and down hills and over rough terrain. Tonka even jumped/stumbled over a small boggy crossing today and I was fine. It's a little awkward going downhill because of the thickness at the front that's forcing my hips too wide and not allowing my legs to move freely forward.
I'll let you know what the saddle maker says tomorrow after I talk to him.
Enough talk though - here are some photos.
Oh, and one other thing. Tonka was a totally different horse today. All year he's been antsy and quite frankly very annoying with his fidgets and spookiness. Today he was relaxed and happy and even enjoyed playing in the water, playing with my sister's gelding, and playing with me a bit. However, I can't say for sure that's because of the saddle. I was also riding bitless in his new riding halter that I made. (BTW - Kristi, I have a new design with different knots that hold better. Email me if the old one wasn't working right and I can replace it for you.) He doesn't like bits so this might have had a lot to do with it. Soon I'll take him out with a bit and the new saddle and see what happens.
My sister took her gelding, Lakota, out on his first real trail ride. He's the one who has trouble keeping his feet on rough terrain, and he's afraid of cattle. We were planning on riding in an area outside the fence where there were no cattle (this state land is leased through the summer for grazing) but the trail was too difficult. So she brought him in with the cows. They almost turned back and went to the trailer but they didn't and I am so glad. Lakota made a huge amount of progress today, gained a lot of confidence, and I think the longer ride - giving him time to settle in and relax - did him good.
Here they are at the water crossing. He doesn't mind water at all, in fact I think he likes it.
Amy had a lot of trouble with her new Renegade boots today. First she lost one, then one came off a couple times, then one pulled apart but I guess it's an easy fix. I was disappointed, I've heard so much good about Renegades that I was considering eventually getting some instead of my Easyboots. Hopefully it's just a fluke, a fitting issue she can figure out and readjust. For now I'm sticking with my Easyboots though.
I love this picture that I got of Melissa and Rosie returning to us after looking for Amy's lost boot. Rosie left the other horses with no problem - it was great to find that she's not herdbound.
Here's Melissa trying out the new saddle & Tonka looking handsome. I love when he's good for someone else to ride. Melissa agreed, the saddle is too wide and forces the upper leg too far outward, causing hip pain.
These are the buckles you undo to peel the seat forward and adjust the cantle, stirrups, and cinch. The cantle is a wedge of foam you can move forward or back, and is held in place by velcro, a center strap you can't see very well, and the buckles and straps shown here.
Oh, and my sister says the saddle is much nicer in person if that info helps any.
I hope there are fixes for my issues, I really want this saddle to work so I can keep it.
I'm behind on reading my blogs and I don't have much time to comment, but rest assured I am reading when I can and really enjoying all the new posts.
I missed a BBQ with the Mustang Club tonight, which really bummed me out. I'm sure it was a lot of fun and I wish I could have been there. But I had to take Katia to her driver's ed and her first driving session later in the evening. That was a weird milestone. Almost like dropping them off at school for the first time. My baby is driving! It makes me really proud and kind of sad at the same time.