Bottoms Up (The Saddle Saga Continues…)

[Click here to read Part I of the Becky Hart Saddle Saga]

After swapping out the cute pink saddle, Carmi Weininger suggested I try the endurance model. What a concept! Back in 2013, in England, I had ridden in Valerie Kanavy’s Reactor Panel® saddle, and had found it to be very comfortable. But, I had been riding Pete, aka Mr. Steady Eddie, not Max, the wild child. Carmi wanted to know if I liked the thigh blocks and if the seat was wide enough.

Digression – “seat wide enough”. Anyone who has taken riding lessons for any length of time will most likely hear their instructor say, “widen your seat bones.” Over time, I think I have been, perhaps, too successful in that endeavor, not to mention the natural progression of “widening” that goes on in one’s life. Many of the clinics I teach, I have to tell participants that their saddle is too small. “But it’s the same saddle I’ve ridden in for the past 20 years,” they wail. Yes, well, sometimes we all have to confront not so pleasant truths. I am trying to face up to mine.

So home I came with the endurance model, and tried it for two weeks. It had that “new leather smell”. It made the truck smell great. We decided to go to our old stomping grounds in Los Gatos and ride Mt. Umunhum, the trail we trained Rio on most of his life. It is one tough trail and we wanted to give Mia a good ride before Virginia City and I wanted to see how Max would handle it. I put the saddle on Max and discovered that the yellow jackets also like that “new leather smell”. They were buzzing under the flaps, around the stirrup leathers. Getting on might be disastrous. What to do? We had some fly spray in the trailer so I sprayed the saddle pad all around the saddle, soaking it in, but avoiding the nice new leather. That seemed to work, and Max and I started without incident.

The endurance model was comfortable, both my horses loved it and moved out well. My only objection was I wanted a bit more of a pommel and cantle – the thigh blocks were great, but I still felt that I wanted more security. The other issue I discovered was my left seat bone was not supported on Max, but I felt right in the middle on Sarge.

So back to the drawing board. I talked with both Carmi and Lynne Glazer, to see what they advised. Lynne suggested I do a test to see if I am in the middle of the saddle. Have someone watch and/or video to see if the emblem on the back of the saddle was moving evenly from side to side or was it was going more to the right. Max likes to travel ribs right, so I am suspecting he was dumping me off to the left. A half panel can be inserted to even the saddle for the rider, however, it means that I have more work to do to get Max straight.

Carmi suggested a dressage saddle, the Avantgarde – with a deep seat and cantle. We met again in Watsonville for a saddle tryst. I tried a Heraldic while I was there – I think I would have loved it when I was 20, not so much now. I tried the Reactor Panel Avantgarde Dressage Saddle, ah yes, deep seat, nice, but no thigh blocks. Carmi sent me home with both saddles to alternate back and forth to see how they compare. If I like the Avantgarde seat on the trail we could put the endurance flaps on the Avantgarde seat. Perhaps we will come up with the Becky Hart model, or, the old ladies safety saddle – for those who still like to compete, go fast and ride less than perfect horses, but who really don’t want to fall off.

So the search for the perfect saddle goes on. As soon as the rain stops (yes rain! Here in drought country), I’ll get out and give them a try.

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