After all this time my new, new saddle fits both Cider and I.  Cider needed the widest of the gullet plates for my new Wintec Wide and I needed the saddle to have the full 18" seat (thank you Caitlan and Donna!)  The extra half inch of seat made all the difference for my comfort.  I had put the stirrup leathers on too short and since the stirrup bars are so tight on the saddle I could not lengthen them while I rode.  Even so the extra length in the seat meant that only my knee cap projected in front of the flaps, the inside of my knee was comfortably against the flap instead of projecting out into empty air.  Big improvement over my last ride on Cider!  Hopefully next week, with the longer stirrup leathers, my ride will be better.  Having the longer seat also meant that I did not feel like I was trying to do a full split on Cider's back.  Much more comfortable.


I tried using a Corrector pad again, this time the one for 18" saddles that does not have the fleece lining, with a thin quilted dressage pad over it.  I was hoping that the thinner Corrector pad would work better.  While I did not feel as perched up on Cider's back something still was not right, the saddle kept shifting from side to side and we had to keep tightening the girth a hole at a time.  Next time I will just use the quilted dressage pad and see if Cider likes that combination better.  I would try the saddle without a pad but Cider does not seem to like the extra long billet straps especially where they meet with the under-flap of the saddle.  I will also have to try and move the saddle back a little bit so it clears the top of her shoulders better.  Hopefully the Cair panels will work as well as claimed in preventing any pressure points on her back.


So I did not have a wonderful ride on Cider today.  It takes Cider a while to decide if she likes something new!  She was back to trying to twist herself into a pretzel, continually trying to dive into the center of the ring.  Since I was using my old Jumping Cavesson bridle I did not have the fine control I have with a bit, Spirit or Nurtural cross-under bridles.  Finally I was able to keep her in some semblance of straightness by alternating my hands, using a light direct rein of opposition on the outside (when my outside seat bone went down) alternating with a light indirect rein in front of the withers with my inside hand all the while keeping contact with both reins, using my legs as needed.  Of course I also had to be careful to keep the saddle centered on her flat, flat back, since my sense of balance is sooo bad I had to keep glancing down to the pommel and then making sure that I raised my head back up!  Since it was cool this morning and not very humid my position was not melting as bad but I had to keep on reminding myself to keep my head up and my face vertical.  The few instances I got everything right Cider fell into the groove of straightness for a stride or two until something else went wrong with my position.  She even backed up two strides straight without me having to straighten her every step.  I m sure when I get everything fixed to Cider's satisfaction I will have some wonderful rides in my new saddle.  


My ride on Mia was much better than my ride on Cider!  Debbie was not there since she had to go take care of her mother so I got my first lesson from Meghan, Debbie's daughter.  Meghan made sure that I did not melt into a blob of protoplasm, keeping after me to keep my head up and shoulders back.  Around a month ago I had noticed that the padding on the seat of my 40 year old Stubben Siegfried had worn out and I could feel the edges of the tree with my seat bones--painful! This, of course, had caused some problems with my position.  Since I cannot afford to get a  good leather saddle specially made for female pelvises I decided to try a seat saver.  When I went to the tack store to buy a sheepskin one they were out, but they finally found a used one made of synthetic fleece.  I had to sew the strap onto the front of the seat saver since the velcro was not holding onto the fleece.  What a difference the seat saver makes!  No pain while riding and my seat bones did not feel bruised afterwards.  So long as the seat saver stayed under my seat everything went fine, which is why I had to sew the strap on.  The results were so good that my husband ordered a sheepskin one for me from the tack store, since I had just gotten my new Wintec Wide saddle and new spurs I did not have the money for such a luxury.  Now I will have to correct all the position faults I fell into when my saddle was uncomfortable.  Thank goodness for good riding teachers!


Mia had gotten a trim by the farrier on Tuesday and her feet were a little sore on Wednesday.  I find it hard to keep her hooves as good when I can trim them only once a week, so the farrier had to take a little more of the hoof wall off, thus the soreness.  So she plodded around the ring at the trot except for the places where the sand was the deepest, and there she elevated her forehand a little and gave me a wonderful, impulsive trot.  So I mostly walked, working on turning, slowing down the walk and then moving out into a regular walk, Mia refused to extend the walk because her feet were too sore for an extended walk.  If I had insisted she would have tried but I decided to wait for next week when her hooves will have grown out a little.  No horse will cheerfully extend out if there is any pain.


I also tried out some new spurs this week.  I had seen the Spursuaders and since it looked like they would not hurt the horse I decided to try them even though the weather is still hot.  These spurs are different, at the end of the neck there is a disk attached cross-wise, around an inch wide and about an 1/8th inch thick and with rounded edges.  These spurs were developed for sensitive horses.  Both mares seemed to accept them, Mia was swishing her tail at the pesky flies so we could not be sure that she liked them but Cider, with no flies, seemed to accept them just fine.  This is a relief for me, with spurs on my feet seem to know where they are and I don't get yelled at because my feet are too far back.  Since my feet are in the right place I do not feel like I am toppling forward and I can use my seat and legs better.  These spurs were another luxury I couldn't really afford but I am glad I went ahead and got them.  As the weather got hotter I had changed from my smooth rowel spurs to my Waterford spurs before Mia told me that I was just being too rude with the spurs, at which point I stopped wearing them.  The rounded edges of the Spursuader spurs don't seem to bother her as much, and as an added bonus I do not have to turn my toes out as much to bring the spur into action and that helps the stability of my lower leg.  I suspect that when it gets colder and I can control my body better I will go back to my smooth rowel spurs, but until then the Spursuaders are an acceptable substitute and I am happy, happy, happy! that I can wear effective spurs in the heat.


I so hope that the rest of August will be cooler!  I hate melting in the saddle, I hate loosing my position, I hate loosing track of my legs, and I miss being able to ride with a bit.  At least the riding keeps me able to walk on my own two feet but the mares don't have as much fun as when I ride better.  But next week I will be able to ride three times a week again!  Mia's hooves won't get away from me, she won't get sore from the farrier, and I will be able to work more on my riding!  I am soooo happy!


Have a great ride!

Jackie  Cochran




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Comment by Marlene Thoms on August 18, 2011 at 11:59am
I just plopped them right on top, they even had a bit of shape to them, so the "knee" of the padding covers the wither area (cutback on my saddle for Old Sharkfin Sharif). Since there were two pads, I put both on, but they are fairly thin, dense padding, sewed the bale twine through front, under the flap, sewed into the sides of the pads toward the back. So the whole thing is removeable, and doesn't alter the saddle, but it just had too many harder parts, his lordship is built a little downhill, so I kept bouncing on them especially on the downhill. Most sheepskins are great for absorbing sweat, but don't necessarily provide a lot of padding. Most of the foams are too thick, and the knee pads are at least finished on the edges, and just cover the top. I don't want more bulk under my leg, just the sit bones, and the tendons in the front of my groin. I really messed up by bottom end, and had charley horses in my thighs, arthritis flaring in the joint, and bursitis on the sit bones.
Comment by Jackie Cochran on August 18, 2011 at 11:29am
Where did you put the shin guards on the saddle Marlene?  I'm thinking of doing some seat padding experimenting myself.  I KNEW there was a reason I kept my old fleece riser saddle pad the last twenty years! 
Comment by Marlene Thoms on August 18, 2011 at 11:18am
Finding the right saddle (never mind bridle ) that works for the horse is an elusive quest in itself. Like you I finally got the saddle (and girth) just about right for Sharif (wine-barrel Arab, girthy, short-backed), then ran into (major) problems with my hips, could barely walk, forget stairs . In desperation I grabbed some old hockey shin guards, tore out the dense padding, and it fit perfectly, secured it with bale twine, and voila, much better! It did take some time to heal the bursitis in my hips before I could get back to even a padded saddle, but if I'm very careful not to trigger it again, I think we'll be okay. No downhill riding for a while. Riding would be relatively simple if my body were younger, things just keep going haywire. I can't imagine how you manage with your challenges Jackie, but I do gain encouragement from your experiences.
Comment by E. Allan Buck on August 15, 2011 at 5:50pm

Where is SA?  South Africa?

If you would like an SB we could probably assist you in getting one.

Comment by Tanya Kotzee on August 14, 2011 at 2:48pm
Thanx for the help. I must say it is great to have someone to ask. Hold thumbs for tomorrow. Tx
Comment by Jackie Cochran on August 14, 2011 at 2:16pm

Expensive hobby?  Yep.  Even though I don't have horses any more it is espensive!  At least the Wintecs are cost less than leather saddles.

Yes, I do change head gear a lot.  Since I can do so little when I ride and because I ride an Arab and a half Arab it is challenging to keep the mares interested and engaged.  Since I deteriorate so much in the summer time I start still using a bit, then go to the cross-unders, then the Light Rider, then the Jumping Cavesson bridle.  My jumping cavesson bridle is no longer made, it had divided cheeks and the nose band projects downward, much better I think than the Jumping cavesson noseband you buckle onto the regular bridles.

I can't ride bareback either.  Every time a riding teacher suggests it I refuse, I'm not even going to try.  I rode bareback a lot when I was younger, been there, done that, and I don't think it helps much with riding in a saddle. 

May you have great luck with the Wintec Wide.  If you decide to change the gullet plate you need a rachet screw driver and some strength in your hands.  I've found with both my Wintecs that the seat length is "shorter" on me, I need a full 18 inch seat with the Wintecs while one of the leather saddles I have is 17" and another is 17 1/2" and they both fit me fine, but in a Wintec 17 and 17 1/2 inch seats are WAY to small for me.  Be prepared to go up a seat size!  Since you don't have good balance you probably should keep checking that the Wintec Wide is centered when you ride.  I know I need to!

You will also need a dressage girth for the Wintec Wide, the billets are LONG and project beyond the saddle and the way they are rigged means that the girth can't go very high up on them.  Most regular sized girths are way, way too long unless your horse is very big.  I'll be able to use a short (42 inch) regular girth for the Wintec Wide on the 18.2 hand gelding I ride, but he is HUGE and normally takes a 50 inch girth when he is thin.

The only place to get the Spirit Bridle is from Frontier Equestrian in the USA.  They list their bridles on e-bay, just search for Spirit Bridles, and you can order them through e-bay using PayPal.   I don't know of any saddleries that carry these bridles.

Have fun with Babuschka!




Comment by Tanya Kotzee on August 14, 2011 at 1:32pm
Hi Jackie. Findiing tack. Has become an issue. We tried Babuschka with all my saddles ( I have 3 ) only to find that he is wider and shorter than any of my previous horses. He even beats my Freshian/Thouroughbred when it comes to width! It has been recomended that I try a Wintec Wide. We are doing a fitting tomorrow afternoon. I must say it is turning into an expensive hobby very quickly. Hold thumbs that the saddle suits both of us as I still havn't been able to ride him. Bareback not being an option with my sense of balance.

One question. Do you often switch between bridles? Cavesson, Spirit etc. I want to try a Spirit but finding one in SA might be a challenge......

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