December 28, 2013

Demo Saddle Trial #2

My favorite saddle pad and no fenders, just the leathers. EZ Ride stirrups

Tuesday I was off all day and the hubs got home around 12 so we headed to the trails to test this saddle out on the hills.

Gem was a stinker about getting on the trailer, but eventually she was loaded and off we went to Butch Kennedy. I knew it was going to be wet out since it rained the previous two days without a lot of sun in the meantime to help dry, but I didn't care if we walked the whole thing. I wanted an hour on the hills in the saddle.

I decided to give my old favorite trail pad a try and it was a little short, but not too bad. This pad is thinner than the one K sent me with the saddle. I kept the fenders off and lengthened my stirrups one more hole. Mohair cinch was used.

We headed down the hill to the trail head and I noticed the saddle was very loose, so I got off and tightened it. We continued down the hill and I noticed that I forgot to trade my warm winter beanie hat for my helmet. Turned around, went up the hill again, got off, put on helmet and started back down. By this time the hubs, W and the dogs were out of sight down their own trail enjoying the hike.

Back down we went, over the bridge of doom and into the woods. The ground was very slick. This clay soil doesn't absorb water very well and there was about an inch of standing water randomly on the trail. We picked our way carefully down the trail.

The first big down hill Gem started to slowly pick her way down. I kept my eyes glued to the front on the saddle watching for signs of it moving forward. About half way down Gem stopped in her tracks and turned around to look at me. I swear she was looking a little confusing wondering why the saddle wasn't hurting her. She then continued down.

The second hill was a similar situation, but the third hill she moved down straight without zigzagging and with her ears forward :) I was thrilled. The saddle stayed put exactly where I had placed it too. Not even a tiny shift forward!!

We went on down the trail and trotted a little where we could which wasn't much. The clay is sooo slick when it is saturated. I didn't want to risk her slipping and getting hurt. About 40 minutes later we turned around and headed back to the trailer. She hates turning around and I promised her that someday we will come out alone in the morning and ride the entire loop even if it takes us 6 hours to do it.

I stared at the front edge of that saddle expecting it to slide forward on every hill and it just stayed put. Actually, when we went up a steep hill it slid back a bit. I was shocked. No saddle has ever slid back before. I don't ride with a breast collar because all my saddle have ridden forward and the breast collar would end up loose, but I think I may add it to this rig.

We trotted more on the way back since I knew where the dry spots were and how long they would last. I dislike asking her to trot just to pull her back up a second later due to the trail. We made it back and I snapped some after shots which the above picture is. It didn't move forward at all.

She sure looks sharp in it, doesn't she?

Left sholder

Right shoulder
I paid attention to my comfort as well. No sense getting a saddle I can't ride in because I am in pain after 15 minutes. The saddle is much too large for me and that places my legs too far forward and into a chair seat which I fought the entire ride. After an hour in the saddle my thighs were a bit sore - partly because I've taken so much time off hard rides lately and partly because the saddle is wider than my English one. I was more comfortable with the longer stirrup length and my knee didn't rub on the cinch ring. I think the smaller seat size will help avoid it as well. I'm still up in the air on if I want to go with a bronze lower profile cinch ring or a buckle.

In the past, an hour of walking would make my left knee ache something fierce. I was surprised to find that this wasn't the case. I think the longer leg and the nice wide stirrups played a part in that. I want to get out in the arena again with a lot more trotting and cantering to see if it bothers me then.

I've been spoiled with my current English saddle. The seat is the most comfortable seat I've ever sat on and this one is not so cushioned. I can order one with more foam in the seat, but I think I will just get a full sheepskin cover instead. that way my butt will be very happy.

After an hour in my current saddle, she would have had raw spot by the girth. Nothing here. This is in part the beautiful mohair cinch, but I think more to do with the western rigging. The buckle is so high up that it is nowhere near her elbows which was my problem with the English rigging.

I sent off these new pictures and my trail ride report to K and got another quick response. She truly is amazing.

I have 1 week left on the trail period. She said as long as nobody else wants to demo saddle I can keep it longer. That's another first for me. Most people are screaming for the saddle back before the trial has even ended. Have I mentioned that she is amazing??

So....I'm very, very happy with everything with this saddle. From the customer service to the fit on Gem to the fit on me. Everything. There are some minor changes from the demo that will be made: a steeper shoulder angle, smaller seat size, something with the cinch ring and the full sheepskin cover. I am now trying to figure out the logistics of placing an order.

She required $600 up front to start making the saddle. I can come up with that, but the problem is obviously the remainder is due upon receipt of the saddle. I don't have the remainder and won't until mine is sold. takes 6-8 weeks for it to be made. I don't want to wait until my saddle is sold to place the order because that's 6-8 weeks out of the saddle and Gem will lose any of the conditioning I have put on her and my hope for a 50 in the fall will be smashed. If I order it now and put mine up for sale and it sells before than everything is hunky dory, but things never go that smooth. Hmmmm.....well I know for sure I need to clean it one last time, get some nice pictures and figure out how I am going to sell it.

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