I originally found the website for The Saddle Geek on one of my many searches relating to Amerigo saddles.
I read these lines in the “Get Custom Advice” section of the website:
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You're overwhelmed by your saddle search.
You're worried about making an expensive mistake.
You're not sure which saddle brands or saddle features make sense for your situation.
And every time you ask a pro for saddle help, it seems like they've got a saddle that they want to sell to you.
Um yes. That was exactly me.
There are a few saddle fitters in my neck of the woods but they all sell a specific brand, which makes them sort of biased in their advice. My Equipe lady was wonderful (and I still want one) but the brand/model recommendations she gave me for a used saddle were very challenging (budget-wise mostly). She was really focused on the Amerigos and Equipes, which even used seemed to run upwards of 3000. I felt like I needed non-brand specific advice.
So I decided to give Jen at The Saddle Geek a try :)
I sent a bunch of conformation photos of Mr. Henry and a few photos of myself. There was a detailed intake form which asked about our current activities and what we currently ride in (baha nothing…#hobolife) etc.
I mentioned a few brands that I liked. I love my Verhan (although the seat is a little hard). I like Barnsbys and Schleeses too. I haven’t ridden in a ton of different brands in my life but I told Jen I would ride in whatever I needed to ride in so Henry could be comfortable. Rock hard ancient Stubbens included. I was sort of leaning towards a dressage saddle when I submitted my info but was open to a close contact as well. I just wanted stirrups.
Apollo's saddle, sent to Jen as an example of what I like :)
She sent me two 30 minute videos full of advice and saddle suggestions. I was going to share them on the blog but I don’t think anyone wants to watch 60 minutes of video about someone else and their horse.
So I’ll share some suggestions/thoughts from those videos:
- She agreed that 17.5 or smaller would be best for his shorter back and he has a longer wither
- She also noted his girth groove is ahead of the low point of his back where the saddle would sit, which is another challenge
- She said a point bullet would be ok, but to be careful(!)
- She suggested the 6 point saddle fleece pad from Total Saddle Fit if we have an okay fit that needs a little bit of lift
- Recommended I stay away from rear gussets due to his curvier-type of topline
- She recommended upswept panels
- Regarding me as a rider: My pelvis sits quite square under me and I have long legs/am fairly slim. I need a saddle that doesn’t have giant front blocks (if I’m riding in a 17.5 anyhow).
- Recommended a variety of brands in my meagre budget (under $1000 preferred) that would work for Henry and I in the dressage world (most of these suggestions are for used saddle): T4/T8 Thorogoods, Roosli Pilatus (and she sent a link for a sweet deal for a used one on ebay), Cobra from Harry Dabbs, Jaguar from Harry Dabbs, and some used Schleeses. And a few other "maybes" if they meet our other requirements. She also found a Barnsby Crown (which likely had a Schleese tree) at a used tack store in Canada and sent me the link for that.
- She thought a Prestige would be nice on Henry also, as they are fairly adjustable. The Tekna A8 was brought up as well. She was pretty sure that I would need a halfpad with a Tekna or Prestige.
- She also suggested doing a custom saddle through Heritage Bespoke Saddlery as a slightly out of budget option
- Suggested wool-flocking as it's more adjustable for a growing young horse
- Jen was also able to kibosh a few saddles that I was considering (one due to being too small for me and one due to rear gussets for him) and give me a long list of saddles to avoid for either me/Henry
- It is not smart to ride in something that is uncomfortable for me because I can't ride properly in something that doesn't fit me (and a too small seat could result in pain for the horse if my butt was more on the cantle than it needed to be)
After all that I still had a few follow-up questions. She sent me another 25 minute video going through all my questions with lots more awesome information :)
I am SO happy with my consult. I learned so much! Jen explained things clearly and used lots of great examples and pictures in the videos to illustrate her points. She was so patient and kind with me (and my one million follow-up questions!). She also has a great sense of humor so the videos are more fun to watch, as opposed to just monotone information overload. Jen also gave me a few great tips for checking the fit on my saddles.
I’m planning to book her again to help me find something for Mystic in the spring. I highly recommend her to anyone who is on the saddle hunt! SHE IS FANTASTIC!!! J
Since my appointment with her I have ordered the Barnsby Crown she suggested to me (which was way under budget) and have booked the Schleese rep to come out next week and tweak it to Henry. It is on a trial in case something is way off but I’m pretty hopeful we have found our saddle.
Thanks Jen!!! <3 From Kate and Henry :D