Monday, July 26, 2010

My Quest for the "perfect" saddle

Has anyone else out there had this joyful task of late? What a pain in the Wazoo!!
As a kid I rode bareback for a year, worked hard and saved my $$ and bought a saddle for $85. Then I traded the saddle and $15 to boot for a horse. Then I was bareback again until I saved enough $$ for my fancy buckstitch tooled saddle. It was so gorgeous I didn't want to mess it up so I still rode bareback!
But I don't want to ride bareback these days and I keep searching for my perfect saddle that may not exist.
I want - yes I want - a saddle with at least a 5 yr warranty on the tree. Do you realize how many have a 1 yr warranty? Boy are they proud of that one! And I don't want a plastic tree especially on a $1500 saddle. Where do they get off on that?!
And have you ever noticed how every saddle's customer testimonials read "The most comfortable saddle I have ever sat in"? Well maybe for their fanny but not mine.
Strangely enough the saddle needs to fit me and the horses.
I don't want custom because it will only fit the horse it is built for and who can afford two of those? The same applies to saddles made in a variety of tree widths. I don't want to have to play with parts and pieces to change the fit, nor do I want to turn a crank to adjust a saddle because who's to say I know what I am doing in that department.
And yes I had treeless also but didn't think they were really the best saddle for the horses. No weight distribution and there is pressure on the spine. I could always get on but I know people who have trouble with the stability of the treeless saddles. Cross them off my list.
Years ago I managed to find a saddle that amazingly fit everything we ever put it on. I wore it out! No white hairs ever, no dry spots, no rubs, it was fantastic. Andi still has one of those saddles, it's English and I gave up that riding style a few years back. My old injured back likes the support of the western styled saddles. Lately I have noticed another new trend where the stirrups or way out in front of the rider so you sit like you are in your Lazy Boy recliner. Now how is that going to help me stay balanced and on board when they spook and buck?
Yes I am asking for a lot, but it's my hard earned dollar, my fanny and my horse's backs.
So with all my criteria in hand I started exploring, and after a few months settled on the flex panel and flex tree saddles.
Oh yes that's another thing, the flex tree saddles come in a 16" seat or bigger. OK I have gained a few pounds over the years but a 16" seat is way too big. So that left me with the flex panel. I tried one in a 15" very padded tush-friendly model and - oh my - that 15" seat was a 14 so it didn't work. But the saddle worked well on the horses, adjusting itself to all three different width horses. They have a great air channel and no pressure or dry spots. Hmmm. Maybe I was on the right track.
This led me to my present saddle, a 15" Timberline that seems to fit all three of the horses. No rubs, no dry spots and the horses have a good attitude. It fits me also but the seat "could" have a narrower twist for a bit more comfort, so it's not perfect but it will do. The dropped rigging is adjustable so I can position it where it won't rub. This saddle fits "most" of my criteria. It's an improvement, but it still isn't perfect - mostly due to the wider seat.
Now I have to ask anyone out there - do you think you make or sell the perfect saddle? Yes? Then let me try it, if you dare. I am the Princess and the Pea when it comes to saddles. :-)

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