Tuesday, September 7, 2010

saddle and boot fitting

I had been interested in trying out a Freeform saddle, and had been scanning the used classifieds. I found one locally, and the very generous owner let me borrow it for the day to see if it would fit. I had sat in one at Horse Expo, but that doesn't tell you much. This was the standard Freeform, 17 inch seat, small knee rolls. I loved how light it was, so easy to lift up on the horse. I had a borrowed mohair girth, and it was a bit hard to tighten (I'm used to some elastic). I used my Haf pad, and at first didn't play with any padding, I wanted to see how it fit from the ground and without anything special. It seems pretty tight on his withers, but I pulled the pad up into the gullet, and I know not to expect clearance like in a standard treed saddle.

I didn't play much with the stirrup adjustment, just placed it where it looked like it would work, and got on. Very comfortable from the start! With the single flap there is nice contact, and the built-up seat has a really nice twist. I felt secure right away, but did notice it was almost resting on his withers. I rode around, did some trotting and cantering, he moved nicely and you could really feel your horse underneath you. I did just enough to work up a small sweat, and took off the saddle to look at the sweat pattern. It looked quite even, with a dry spine (the most important part), though there were dry spots behind the wither (which would need padding). I tried the saddle father back than usual, to see if that would help the clearance, but when sitting on him there was just too much pressure. I tried the treeless string test (run a string with a knot through the gullet, if it slides freely you have spine clearance) and the string got hung-up in the front.

So I certainly like the saddle, but I think the cutback (unfortunately) would be the way to go. I was very grateful to the saddle's owner for loaning it to me, and met a very cool endurance rider in the process, so in the end it was good. I won't be getting a saddle anytime soon, and still really like my Solstice, but it is fun to try what is out there.

Then it was time for boot fitting! Tiny tools and super-strong velcro, but Major was pretty patient while we constantly asked for his feet, make him stand, asked again, etc. The boots took a bit of playing with, the cables really needed to be loosened, I think I was loosing boots because the heel support was falling too low. When I adjust them higher on his heels they do migrate down a bit (just his conformation) but not like they did before. I didn't have to tighten the velcro so much in the front, and didn't feel or see any twisting. Time will tell!

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