A master saddle fitter came out to our barn today to look at a whole bunch of horses, including PJ. I know that a lot of my issues are mine alone, but I haven’t been feeling very secure in my saddle and wanted an expert to look at it.
She first ran her hands down PJ’s back from his head to his tail. She also took a bunch of measurements across his back. She pointed out that PJ’s right shoulder is significantly bigger than his left, and said that most horses have imbalances like that and it is our job as the rider to try to even them out.
Then she saw me ride and immediately pinpointed my crookedness along with what the saddle was doing. She asked how I felt, recognizing that I ride in my saddle on my horse everyday and thus, may not be able to say. I told her I felt like I couldn’t push with my core because I felt like I was leaning forward. She said that was exactly what she was seeing. Her fix was to add a lot of stuffing to the front of the saddle. After she was done, I got in it again and rode around. I felt instantly better, but she was not done. She had an idea to fix my crookedness because she didn’t want it to transfer to PJ. She suggested a shim pad with extra support on the left. I was open for anything, so agreed to try it. After she put the pad on, PJ felt very bouncy. I did feel a little like I was being pushed onto my right seatbone but knowing how I ride, that’s a good thing. She watched me ride again and said I was much straighter.
Now, I was willing to buy a new saddle if I needed to in order to ride better and make sure PJ was comfortable. But I was lucky to get away with just having to buy the pad and pay for the reflocking. She did have with her a saddle made specifically for Friesians. She had brought it for another boarder who has a Friesian/Paint/Percheron cross. It is already built up in the front and is cut back a little off the shoulder to accommodate the uphill build of the Friesian. But she said that since PJ is still developing and my saddle wasn’t causing problems that the best thing is to stick with my saddle with its adjustments, but it may need to be restuffed in the front again after about 6 months.
My friend ended up buying the Friesian saddle for her mare. Her horse had been acting out a little and the saddle fitter thought it could be the saddle. In the new saddle, there were none of the behavior issues that she had been exhibiting in the old saddle, which confirmed that it was the saddle. My friend was nice enough to let me get on her horse and walk around in it. I don’t know if I liked it, but I don’t know if that was because the horse felt so different or it was slippery because it was new. Right now, I’m glad I have my own saddle with its modifications.
I won’t know if the changes in the saddle will really translate into changes in me until our show on Sunday, and possibly not until my next lesson. That is, if we have a show on Sunday, because a lot of rain is in the forecast. But regardless, the right equipment can help us and the wrong equipment definitely hinders us as this professional saddle fit showed us.