Thursday, October 16, 2008

Saddle Up, Mate!

I've been in contact with a gentleman named Rick from Huckleberry Stables in MO. He'd spotted a post of mine somewhere along the line bemoaning my saddle fitting woes and offered to help. He deals with Timberline Saddles, which from what I gather are pretty top notch. And I wasn't gathering that just from Rick, but others who have known Timberline. Rick tells me these guys are the old, original Orthoflex folks who got together and wanted to keep that great saddle going.

Rick has asked for photos of Sandy so he can identify what the problem might be. He's sent me a pad for him at no charge and is keeping his eye out for a used saddle that is inside of my beer budget. I think I really like Rick. Not only did he go out of his way when I'd never even contacted him, not only has he spent countless hours emailing and answering my often ridiculous questions, but he's sending me a pad! Or did I mention that last part already? I think it's just grand, really I do. I love when people are so willing to help out others that they don't even know. And you know I'm not about to let that kindness slip through the cracks, so y'all are hereby ordered to send Rick a thank you note on behalf of me and Sandy :) Here's his email for you! hucklebe AT Of course you'll need to replace that AT with an @, but I'm sure you knew that already.

While I'm waiting on my pad to arrive and for a test drive in one of those super sweet Timberlines, I've been out and about testing countless saddles without a whole lot of luck. The ones that were for sale did not fit...the ones I tried on that fit were not for sale. Life is not looking good in terms of saddles. But I did come across an older Aussie which, despite being a bit beat up, seems to do the job.

At does the job on Sandy. On Jet it leaves a wee bit to be desired. But again, super customer service from yet another saddle distributor, Kate's Saddle Supply. I'd emailed, again moaning and groaning, that I had no clue how this saddle was supposed to sit on my horse. I'd read it should sit farther forward than a western saddle, but that was so not what was happening. A kind man by the name of Tim was right on top of things and phoned the following morning offering to help. Heck...I'd only suggested they put photos online for people like me who need that visual aid. No way did I think they were going to call and start talking me through this on a cheap, beat up saddle I'd bought off Craigslist!

But they did. Or rather, Tim did. And it was wonderful! He asked me to send photos so he could see what was going on, and then he sent some back showing how level it ought to be and where it should fit. He suggested getting something to bump up the front of the saddle while riding Jet, even a terry cloth towel (how nice not to have him push sales) ought to do the trick. He recognized the saddle brand and model, said it was one of the economy saddles and that the padding often worked it's way to the back which then shifted the weight up to the horse's wither. And that's exactly what happens on Jet.

Oh, and in the picture? It's sitting too far forward. And not to worry, he says, when it slides back while riding as it will undoubtedly settle in the right place to stay out of the way of her shoulders. Just as long as it's not sitting on her loins, which it didn't when I rode her in it the other day.

So although I've not found the perfect saddle quite yet, I'm happy with this little Aussie, mates, and will be riding my Brumby up into the hills while whistling the tune to Snowy River. (No, not really, as I can't whistle! But I'll be humming it off key...)


Lea and her Mustangs said...

A long time saddle maker here in Spokane told us once at a saddle fitting clinic to get a saddle that was comfortable for you and work with saddle pads to make it comfortable for the horse. I have trouble with Dixies high withers but found a pad that works wonderful. Most of us can only afford one saddle for ourselves. That made sense to me and it has worked for Bob and I.

Tracey said...

I'm glad it's worked for you, Lea. It seems to be working for Jet, too. But for Sandy it isn't. I've padded him up pretty good, built up in the front but that pushed more pressure back to his loin. I've got to find something better for him.

Jeanette said...

OOOhhhh, I hate saddling issues. I've had a couple in my career that have been 'problem children'. And I've met folks that look at me sidways thinking she's lost her mind, thinking "Just get a saddle".
I've had good luck with older Circle Y's and Herfords, they seem to work on pretty much everybody (I think everyone else likes them too, they're hard to find), however, if you're dealing with special issues, you gotta go with what works.
Good Luck :)

Callie said...

I wish I had your kind of luck! I can't seam to get my Kola fitted properly either. broad shouldered and gaited,so she paddles out. Pain!

Rising Rainbow said...

Saddle fitting can be a real pain and finding one saddle to fit multiple horses an even bigger one.