Thursday, January 21, 2010
101 Things: Number 99: Fitting saddles
It's worth every cent too. A well fitting piece of equipment makes our job that much easier. A bad fitting piece of equipment will make any ride a living hell.
Well fitting saddle is a basic necessity in any sport. However, it seems to be paramount in dressage due to the purposeful, physical development of the equine athlete. The dressage horse changes at every stage of development, to help with that growth, the saddle must change with it.
There are also a plethora of saddles out there, in an infinite amount of seat, tree and flocking combinations to suit tastes and needs.
First the basics: a saddle should be functional.
It should fit the horse and you. It should allow you to keep your position without fighting for it, and allow no restriction in the horse when moving. It should be stable without being static, and should fit the horse while in motion.
Trilogy Saddles has an excellent guide here.
Work with a qualified saddler. Sit in as many saddles as you physically can. Ask your fellow boarders (and your coach!) about theirs, and see if you can't sit and tryout. Take notes on what you felt when you rode in them. Jot the features you liked, and the features you didn't like. Jot what your horse liked and didn't like and how he reacted. If you can have the ride taped.
Educate yourself on flocking. Know the type of wool that is being used, whether it is a long fiber (better quality, doesn't pill), or short fiber (bad, pills and creates pressure points). If there isn't wool, what is inside that saddle? Foam? Air? Aunt Mildred's wig? How does it effect the horse?
Finally, take care of the investment. Clean regularly, condition frequently. Reflock and check the integrity of the tree yearly (more often if you fall off, or the horse has crashed on it).