I've been riding in the same Stubben Avalon forabout 5 years. I get it tended yearly, making sure it fits my darling girl. And her back is just great, she gets a lameness exam yearly too, saddle good, horse good, all good...  well, is it?

Maggie Mae has been in training awhile now, coming along great, fixing her various foibles. Another woman at the barn tries some saddles, as her horse is actually sore because of his 'custom made' saddle (how many times have we heard that?).  Orders a saddle, gets a demo for awhile since she can't ride in the one she has.  Sooooo, saddle is there, it gets tried by other people... two more ordered... and it finds its way to Maggie's back.  She was fantastic... must be a fluke... so, my trainer rode her all week in it... unbelievable, nearly a different horse.

Okay, what the hell?!  Horse isn't bothered by her saddle at all, why does this one make a difference? It's not the fit of the saddle on her, it's how the saddle lets the rider RIDE her...  Now this is not a concept I had a thought about.  So... I had a wonderful saddle fitter send me two to try.  You know, on the off chance that, well, *I* might ride her better with a different saddle.

I think I'm in love... first saddle on today.  Wouldn't you know it, my legs are longer, more stable, my seat is better, my hands are better...  But now I'm pondering... is this cheating?  Shouldn't I be able to ride in the bare bones old style saddle just as well?  Is it really 'riding' if you have that much help?!  I throw it out into the universe....

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Comment by Marlene Thoms on April 15, 2012 at 9:50am

It's whatever works, for your horse, for you, and for your pocketbook. Some horses are harder to fit, some are more particular. Nothing has given me a better appreciation for how a not right saddle affects my horse than the change in his demeanor, but also my own discomfort with certain saddles. No wonder the guy was cranky about cinching and tying and saddling when I got him, he must have had some poor fitting saddles or too tight cinching (to deal with his slippery conformation). I feel very different in different saddles, sometimes to the point of major pain, but sometimes just in how relaxed or balanced I feel. So it affects my riding, which affects naturally his attitude and responsiveness, just how happily or smoothly he moves. There are two beings in the equation, each within a wide range of physical differences, the permutations are practically endless. One or two little differences in how one or another saddle is built has quite an effect. And obviously the most expensive or the most professionally fitted saddle is not necessarily the best for that riding pair or the type of work they do. I've even made some changes to a saddle that worked for my horse, but not for me, so that it worked for both of us, just because it's difficult to find just the right one (unless I want to spend $3,000). That's cheating, that a $25 dollar pad turns a good (second hand but originally expensive) saddle for him, into a saddle which works for me too! Both he and I are not as young as we used to be, so we might as well just cheat and make us both as comfortable as possible.

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