Let's start at the beginning, shall we?
I spent my younger horse riding life riding mostly bareback or with a bareback pad. I didn't think anything of it, since we had no saddle and bareback worked for me. I finally got a western saddle at about 15 and rode in it for several years until it was stolen from the barn I was boarding at. Then I went back to riding bareback. Then I stopped riding for a while.
When I came back to riding I traded a month worth of work in a barn for an Aussie saddle. By then I was in love with the Man From Snowy River and lusted after all things Aussie. That saddle worked for Keili and I for the brief time we were together. Then there was a thing. The tree on the saddle was broken, and I got rid of it. And the horse. And didn't ride again for almost 20 years.
Then I was given Ashke.
The weekend after we drove to Texas to see him, I went to Down Under Saddlery here in Aurora. I was hoping for a Snowy River saddle, but after talking to the woman in the shop, I tried a Master Campdraft. Campdrafting is the Aussie term for working cattle. The saddle was comfortable and she swore it would fit Ashke. I showed her the pics we had of him and mentioned that I was worried that as he developed muscle and fat and all of the stuff he was missing, that the saddle wouldn't fit any more. She swore that the skeletal structure doesn't change and those things don't really matter. The saddle would fit.
Then came months of struggling with saddle fitment issues. I paid almost $300 for an equipad made of memory foam to help. Nothing seemed to make it better. We tried two different saddles. They didn't work. Finally, in frustration, I returned the saddles (for a full refund, thankfully) and turned to Bev for help. She came out, mapped Ashke's back and sold me the Trekkerland.
I was in love and thought we would be together forever. Treacherous bastard betrayed me and Ashke, throwing us back under the "searching for the perfect saddle fit" bus once again.
I emailed Bev. Thirteen times. I've been very frustrated with the response from her. Or lack of response. I am at my wits end and ready to make a different choice. She is not reacting with the urgency that I am feeling. I am tired of waiting, so I mapped Ashke's back myself and set off to fix this problem before spring arrives and I am stuck in the outdoor arena bareback.
See, I can't ride if I don't have a saddle. At my age and with my injuries, I want a saddle. I need a saddle. Ashke is more confident in a saddle.
I have tried several saddles now. I tried the saddle that Cassandra rides in, and the Adam Ellis that N owns. I have now sat in four different Wintec dressage saddles and all I can say is that I can not ride in a dressage saddle. The angle of the leg position puts too much pressure on my left hip and lower back, resulting in numbness, pain and massive discomfort. I have no interest in riding in a H/J saddle. That leaves an AP English saddle or western. Western saddles cause pain in my hip and knees.
There is one more saddle, though, that I have wanted since I saw it on Wait for the Jump's blog. It is a Spanish riding saddle. I joked months ago about getting one, but I really wasn't serious, until the Trekker failed me. I have looked at the pictures of Saiph riding in it and compared them to the Trekkerland. The body positions and seats are similar. Check. It is a deep saddle, so feels secure like my Trekkerland. Check. Saiph says it's very comfortable to ride in for long periods of time. Check. It is designed for a Spanish or Iberian horse, who are very similarly built to my Ashke. Check. I decided to reach out and see about ordering one of these saddles.
There is one place that sells these saddles and I got ahold of the woman who manages the business.
Lisa was wonderful. She reviewed my back map and all the accompanying measurements. She perused pictures of Ashke and his back shape. She looked at pics of my current saddle. She recommended a saddle and gave me a time frame to get it out. She sent me pictures of the other horses that do well under this saddle. She also guarentees the saddle fit and I can return it if it doesn't work. She answered all of my questions within a hour of my sending the email. She worked with me to make sure it was what I really needed for Ashke. I was sold. I am ordering a Ludomar Alta Escuela Flex tree Wide with a standard seat in black leather or suede with short billets. It should be here in a month or so. I opted out of any customization because I wouldn't be able to return it should it not fit and because I didn't want to wait for the saddle to be made. This particular saddle with be the quickest option.
Then I drove to Dover and purchased an inexpensive Wintec AP saddle to use in the meantime. I checked the wires I used for back mapping against the Wintec and it seems to fit pretty well. I will see tonight.
Now we wait. If this doesn't work, I will have to go back to Bev and look at the AP saddles she offers. Or go through the Arabian Saddle Company to find a saddle designed for my round belly boy. I hate this process.
Oh, and I have a great condition Trekkerland for sale. Standard tree. Standard seat. $1100 or obo, plus shipping. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.