So last Friday, the Voltaire rep came out to try saddles on P with the idea that I would probably end up needing a custom saddle.
The CWD has to go.
Not only is it not aesthetically pleasing…
But it doesn’t fit me very well. It’s comfy beyond belief, but the flaps are not so conducive to my stupid long legs, particularly while jumping.
Whenever I would trailer down to Aiken, I would ride in the trainer’s Voltaire. It fit P great and I always felt so secure in it. So my top choices were Voltaire and Stackhouse, because my dressage saddle is a Stackhouse and they’re in NC, but Stackhouse wouldn’t be able to do a fitting for a long time, as they’re on the road right now.
So I told the Voltaire rep the specs for the saddle I would ride in down in Aiken and she brought about a dozen variations for me to try for comparison.
After trying a couple to determine what looked best, the first saddle I rode him in was an 18″ Palm Beach with 3AA flaps (long, double forward).
This may sound weird, but I wanted a saddle that fit better with my EcoGold half pad. I just like the idea of there being that extra layer of shock absorbing material in between my sometimes-not-so-graceful self and my horse’s sensitive back. This saddle already fit his shape well, and then was made pretty close to perfect with my pads (pretty much the same as the Voltaire I rode in while in Aiken).
We went out to the arena and I got on P and he immediately went into the softest, most relaxed frame without me even asking. It was kind of incredible, and totally unexpected. Usually I let him warm up without asking for any sort of frame or connection for the first few minutes, but he was connected from the get go. We did some w/t/c, and hopped over a few fences, and he was fantastic.
The seat felt quite a bit different than my CWD- the saddle didn’t just stick me in one place, and I guess I’ve come to expect that. I asked about trying an 18.5″ for comparisons sake. Well, P let me know what he thought about that and was immediately super short-strided- almost felt lame- and I couldn’t get him to move out at all. The saddle was just barely at his last rib, but I guess that was enough.
So then I tried an 18″ with a different flap, I think it was a 2AA and with the regular sweat flap (not the upgraded second skin like saddle #1). P was better than he was in saddle #2, but not nearly as nice as he was in saddle #1.
So just for the sake of certainty, because at this point I wasn’t sure if it was the saddle or his attitude (it was about 200 degrees and his friends were being turned out), I tried saddle #1 on him again and lengthened the stirrups one hole (the first time I tried it, they were slightly too short for me). P immediately went back into being engaged and soft.
I rode for an additional 10 minutes or so in it- sitting trot, posting trot, 2 point, sitting canter, half seat canter, etc. And he was great.
Of course, it’s the absolute top of the line one with all the add-ons, so about $5,800 for a custom one.
So I asked if the demo saddle was for sale.
And she said yes! Plus I could keep it for a week’s trial.
So I have until tomorrow to decide and I’m leaning towards yes.
I can’t find a better price for a used one that has the same features. Here are my favorite ones:
- It’s buffalo. My CWD is calf and while it’s older and was previously owned by a trainer, the leather is really worn. Obviously, there’s a freaking hole on the pommel. It’s also starting to wear down on the left side of the seat. The buffalo feels much grippier.
- It has the second skin upgrade. This is a slightly thinner, more pliable sweat flap than the regular one, giving a closer contact feel. P responded to this one a lot better than to the other nearly identical saddle but that had a regular sweat flap, so I chalk that up to a win.
- PRO panel upgrade, which is supposed to fit a variety of horses. Something to do with the padding or whatever, I wasn’t too interested in that, since I have just 1 horse. But then I rode BO’s TB, who is a drastically different body type, and this saddle with the same pads, fit him pretty darn well. Just to compare, I put my CWD on him to see which was better and it did not fit at all- lots of rocking, where the Voltaire sat still and level. I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to buy a PRO panel, but it’s nice to have (if I 100% decide to purchase).
Tonight is the final ride in it before I have to decide, since I’m leaving for Chicago in the morning to go see family and run a Spartan race with my sister. Yesterday I got on and cantered poles with P (HW from my lesson with BO to regain my ability to see distances), and P was the most relaxed I could’ve asked for, despite having 2 days off. This was my text conversation with husband prior to getting on:
I just cantered up and down both long sides over and over the poles that were on 5 stride lines and he was perfectly fine. So fine, in fact, I dropped my stirrups and did some trot and canter- I NEVER drop my stirrups on this horse. And I felt totally secure in the saddle, so I don’t think I want it to go back.
So tonight I’ll hop over some fences, make sure that’s all ok, then stay up and agonize over my decision until midnight or so.
In other expensive news, my trailer was dropped off yesterday for the modifications!
And these items are arriving today!