Tuesday Lesson - Or why I need a new saddle

While I'm usually the first one to think poorly of people for complaining about equipment being the reason they can't do something, I feel like I've really reached a real limit on my ability to progress with this saddle.

The saddle I have is an all purpose, which the trainer was saying is basically a "no purpose" saddle. I'm generally not a fan of them either, but this saddle was the ONLY thing that fit Nilla. She takes a 36cm tree and really needs to hoop/U tree shape as well because her back is basically a barrel. When I first got the saddle, Nilla really hated it which was surprising as it looked like it fit. But she started balking about going forward and pinned her ears quite a bit. The saddler was able to remove the synthetic flocking, replace it with real and move the stirrup leathers to make it work better for Nilla. And it did work well for her for a few months.

However, it has never really worked for me. I need a much more forward flap. If I actually raise my stirrups up (you know, a thing you need to do to ride in a hunter-jumper position) my knees would stick out over the saddle. So I keep the stirrups long, but that makes me revert back to chair seat and makes it really hard to get into a decent two-point over a jump. It's also causing me problems with longer trail rides where my knees start really hurting.

Pretty straight flaps
I had already decided to look at new saddles just for me when we go to Rolex, but now I'm pretty sure the saddle is bothering Nilla again. I mentioned seeing rubs after last week's lesson and I was experiencing the same balking, angry mule as I had before the fitting. So I scheduled the saddler to come out again on Thursday. On Tuesday, we had another lesson and I once again had a pissy mule. The trainer also commented on Tuesday that the saddle is really not a good fit for me.

In addition to the too straight flaps, the saddle just will not stay down.  Now, I admit that my form isn't perfect. I played polo for four years and that basically destroyed my position. The trainer actually groaned when we first met and I told her I played polo. I think polo players are amazing riders but playing polo does not encourage proper hunt-seat equitation.

But it's really hard to not tip forward when your saddle literally tips you forward when you try to jump:

This thing has seriously gone up like 5 inches in the back despite breeching. And you can see from Nilla's ears that she's not happy about it. I don't have a single picture of her in the lesson with her ears not pinned going over a jump. And she wasn't too happy even on the flat - balking, being really behind my leg, and shaking her head a bunch.

So the saddler is out tomorrow and we'll see what he has to say. Anyone know a dealer in the SF Bay area? My saddler only does fixes and makes his own custom saddles - and while that may have to happen given how odd Nilla's back it, I'd prefer to not spend quite so much on a custom. I'd really love to get another Prestige.

Here's some happy mule ears to end the post

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