No-Stirrup November is mandatory for me - my saddle was just taken away by a saddle fitter! I only have my bareback pack for the next week - my only option is riding with no stirrups! Speaking of saddles...I have to step onto my soapbox for a moment.
I bought a custom saddle in 2008. I was a stupid 21 year old (not that everyone who is 21 is stupid, but I was). I struggled with finding a saddle to fit an uber wide Clydesdale cross but had a seat small enough for me. I ended with with a lovely cliff barnsby AP saddle that I loved. But it wasn't quite right on Apollo. It was used and likely a re-flock would have sorted out the balance issue. But it was VERY popular at the time to have a custom saddle made by a local saddle maker. They were made with french leather and air panels (oooh! ahhh!). I was in a pretty serious car accident and decided to buy a cheaper car and use the remaining funds for a custom saddle. And I have lived to regret that decision! Here's why:
- The seat has always felt a bit small for me. Even when I was 10-15lbs lighter it felt small.
- The fit was originally decent on Apollo. But the air panels have fluctuated substantially with the seasons, so in winter my saddle feels kind of deflated. Now the saddle is officially "bridging" and the saddle fitter agreed with me that it was a bit narrow.
- The saddle is supposed to be checked every 6 months. I have had mine checked - never. The saddle fitting company has provided some of the worst customer service I have ever received in my life and I gave up last year trying to have someone come out and look at it.
- The saddle cost $5700 (ack)and I wasn't 100% happy with it from day one. I should have spoke up but the saddle fitter kind of bullied me, although that's no excuse to accept a subpar product. Especially with that kind of price tag.
- I have tried to sell this saddle two times since owning it. It has been for sale or at a tack consignment shop for at least two years total time. I have had it listed below $3000 (but would probably take 2000) and I have had almost zero interest as these saddles are no longer in style.
Lessons learned: Don't get bullied into buying something you don't love (speak up!). Don't spend money on stupid things you shouldn't, this purchase was truly ridiculous...the saddle cost 3 times what I paid for Apollo (not that I would sell him for a million billion dollars) and cost more than my current vehicle - that money would have been much better spent on a horse trailer, savings, etc. Also - don't buy from DK Saddlery. They suck.
So I'm kind of stuck with the stupid saddle now. I decided to have it re-flocked with wool. The saddle fitter thinks he can tweak it for a decent fit on Apollo, not perfect as it's still a bit narrow. I'm going to use it for this eventing season and then go from there. It is kind of pretty but for a custom saddle there is nothing custom about it. It should be ready for me to ride in the clinic next weekend, fingers crossed.
I had a lovely brunch with my parents today (a late birthday brunch!). As my birthday present they are going to pay Henry's board for one month. Which is awesome and truly appreciated. November is sort of our "horse-versary" as I paid for him in November 2012. I finally received the invoice for Mystic's two vet visits in October so this is a wonderful surprise. I spent the rest of the day driving on sketchy roads to put proper blankets on ponies. Henry was covered in snow and was a little afraid of the blowdryer but we worked through it. It's going to be -29 tomorrow with the windchill.... *cringe*.
Here's is Henry from November 2012 vs. August 2014: