Dressage Saddle Anyone?

The Saddle Saga continues but with a better direction on where we are going.

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Good bye Wintec saddle, you served us well

Beaux is growing up and out, with muscles adding on to his fledgling trail riding skills, and saddle fit is now a pressing matter. We’ve been riding for about 3 years in a great Ebay score, a $36.50 Wintec AP saddle, but unfortunately an old style model with a fixed gullet so I am unable to let the saddle adjust with Beaux, so off to Saddle Shopping Adventures.

I’ve been looking at a lot of different styles and models but nothing has screamed “Ye Gods I NEED this!” I’ve ben looking at Endurance models, Aussie saddles, Wintec both All Purpose and Dressage, as well as Abetta synthetic models. Beaux is as choosy as I am when it comes to saddle fit, and we have a checklist for our saddle wants and needs:

Weight – Lighter the better and the Wintec was a game changer as far as going from a grumpy “I hate this riding stuff” to “Eh, I’ll go along reluctantly with your nutty ideas” so weight is definitely our top priority.

English – I love Western saddles but they are unbelievably heavy and bulky, so English or English style Endurance saddle. AP or Dressage style are at the top of the list as we do 98% trails so definitely a deeper seat and comfort, comfort is big.

Synthetic – I love synthetic tack, easy to clean and a bit more forgiving of the elements. Leather in humid conditions where rain/mud/dampness/sweat just gets havoc wrecked upon it, with a synthetic, you hose and wipe it off and bam! good as new.

 

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Hiyoh with Shanty and Christie Wales up

Tonight got to ride in a borrowed dressage saddle and it was like butter. Bonus, fits Beaux and he was fairly good riding in it. I have to say “fairly good” as Beaux is Beaux and the only thing consistent about Beaux is his inconsistency. Beaux has been making serious progress on the whole “where do my feet” go thing on the trail, he’s been picking his feet up and becoming more brave with his great nemesis, the puddle (which Beaux is convinced that sharks, gators, and pythons live in every single puddle, it is Florida, so probably not too far off the target). Tonight Beaux tripped pretty hard on a branch that dared to fall in the middle of the trail, and a few tree roots grabbed his feet. Beaux was seriously offended by the addition of Hiyoh, a young Brahma steer, on our ride. Beaux switched between being annoyed by Hiyoh to being seriously offended by Hiyoh’s mere presence.

 

So tonight was a “I’m gonna trip on stuff all while giving stink eye to the cow” kind of ride. Half halts would bring Beaux back to task, then he would wander again, so it was decided that if we leap-frog Beaux and Hiyoh, both would not be so upset about the other being near by. It worked with some modest success, which means more work on half halts while on the trail.

Beaux does get some “atta boys” for stopping on the trail, standing nicely while Hiyoh’s halter and lead were adjusted, and bringing his attention back on task when asked. This gives me new ideas to work on while out on the trail, better quality half halts (on both of our ends), keeping Beaux focused on the trail and where his feet belong, and getting Beaux to pay more attention to my legs and seat and less on rein cues. Beaux was a driving horse for the fist 9 years of his life, and he is typical as far as driving horses go with being heavy in the bridle. He still is in many ways a green horse, but the more miles we rack up, the better he will get. This is about the journey not the destination.

Until next time, keep on riding.

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