First I just want to thank the Vanderbilt family. Thank you for immigrating to the US. Thank you for establishing the ferry to Manhattan thereby starting the huge accumulation of money that still runs through the veins of your descendants. Thank you for being so pretentious that you purchased half of NC and built the Biltmore estate. And thank you even more for keeping it around and not selling it as a subdivision and allowing rides to take place on your property. Without you, Vanderbilts, I wouldn't have made this decision and gotten a huge monkey off my back. In return for your part in this, I will allow one of your beautiful, nice, smart and funny female descendants to marry W when he is older thus establishing a link between our two families. If only....
I received the demo Advantage saddle back in mid December. 7 months ago. The owner has been super nice in letting me keep it all this time without paying a rental fee or anything. I had placed an order for a shiny new one back before Christmas and have been mostly patiently waiting for it ever since. The fact that I've been able to use this one has lessened the annoyance of it taking so dang long to get mine.
I ordered pretty much the same thing as the demo with some minor changes:
Smaller seat size (from 16" to 15") - the larger sized demo felt huge when I first got it and I felt not properly balanced in it.
Less loin lift (1/4" flatter saddle from front to back) - when I first got the demo it seemed to sit off her back in the rear a lot and so I wanted a little less tilt. Also the tree she had available in the width needed was 1/4" flatter so we went with this by default
Sheepskin skirting (versus foam)
Wool pad (versus whatever the Reinsman pad is which I think is wool inside and a sticky material outside)
Then some cosmetic stuff like cushier foam in the seat, chocolate brown leather and a custom tooling design.
I waited for it to arrive. And waited. And waited. All that time I rode in the demo saddle for every conditioning ride since December. And then slowly thoughts and concerns began to pop up into my head. This all came to a head after we completed Biltmore with flying colors, a perfectly even sweat pattern on her back and no sore spots or rubs.
The dam broke on my own personal river of stress: what if all the little changes add up to a saddle that doesn't fit and now I am out $2200 on a brand new, custom saddle that doesn't work?!?!?
A smaller seat with extra foam cushion could make me feel confined and crammed and also will change the weight distribution on her back.
Less loin lift could create rubbing on her hindquarters
The sheepskin skirting could allow pressure points that the foam eliminated
What if the wool pad isn't as good at shock absorption?
The hubby still has his head screwed on straight (and loves saving money where he can) and suggested I contact Katee and ask if I could just buy the demo. Since she still hadn't even started making mine yet, she was more than agreeable to this. $1200 would get me the saddle (used but still mostly in great condition), Reinsman pad, mohair cinch and EZ ride stirrups. A great deal.
The hubby saw the -$1000 and started doing a jig. But....this is me we are talking about I have diligently saved all my Christmas and birthday money, plus sold the WISE (although all that money went towards paying off stuff for the new business darnnit) and my Wintec saddle and kept that money aside as well for this saddle fund. I'm not going to use it on groceries now.
So...I ordered two things I really wanted to get but couldn't afford with the new saddle price tag:
A full sheepskin saddle cover......wait for it (can anyone tell I've been binge watching How I Met Your Mother? All I need is to throw in some "awesomes)....in red!! This is actually a really good buy. Why? For one it will help make the 16" feel a little more snug without changing the weight distribution for Gem and second it will allow me to ditch my chaps at a minimum and potentially wear shorts for the next ride and tie. Plus it is red!
A full wool saddle pad. I need a second saddle pad anyway since it is always a good idea to have a back up and my original saddle order included this.
That's it. Oh wait...plus one add on that wasn't necessary but I really wanted. A red mohair girth as a back up (or primary since it is red).
But even with these additions I am still coming in $700 under the purchase price of the new saddle order. Katee also offered for me to ship the saddle back over the winter when we aren't riding much and she will do a facelift on it - put new chocolate brown leather with tooling and put new foam skirts on. I may or may not have her do this. I do want new foam underneath so that is a must, but depending on the cost of the leather I may opt out of that. If I keep the cover on it most of the time, it won't need new leather.
I'm very excited for this decision to be made. I am no longer stressed about saddle fit (for now until her back changes a ton and this one no longer fits either) and by purchasing used I can add on the fun items and still save some money.