First of all, thank you PH :) You really have no idea what this means to me.
A few of you are familiar with my soreness issues. After completing our first 50 (for a total of 125 miles last hear with LD's and the 50), Snickers came up SORE. And showed signs of grey hairs coming in on his shoulders. My heart sank - both because he hurt so bad and because I didn't know what I was going to do since I probably wasn't going to be able to afford a saddle. That was last July. After that, per the ride vet's recommendation, he had 6 weeks with no riding, a few tune-up rides, and did superbly in an LD 2 months later in a borrowed saddle that I believed fit. However, he almost hit the ground when we checked his back. He's such a trooper - he didn't show any signs of being uncomfortable or being upset until the vet check.
That was the end of our endurance season. I gave him 3 months of with basically no riding (I did jump on bareback for 5 minutes a few times in the second half of that time). And of course, since then, it's been very cold and wintery and I've been beating myself up trying to figure out this saddle issue. No matter what I did, I just didn't see a way to compete this season the way I wanted to. The saddles I did think would work were far out of my budget and we're currently trying to get money back in the bank since I've been student teaching and haven't had any income. My poor husband, who doesn't ride and is actually afraid of horses, has been SO supportive through it all, trying to make sure we had money for me to pay for my horses (I have two) and then compete on top of that. It's hard to explain to a non-horse person why one must have a saddle in the neighborhood of $1,500, and when it comes down to it, our family needs to come first.
The other day, I was talking to one of my friends, an expert in the field of endurance, and she said she uses Big Horns. She loves them and they fit most horses she's worked with, so I'm really hoping it fits mine. I knew those were less expensive, and after calling the company, I figured out which model I liked (of course it's the same one as my friend has). Then, I posted the thread about Big Horns, and moments realized later that this was the exact saddle PH was selling! And then my husband said he'd be ok with the price! Now, it's paid for and I'm trying so hard not to just explode while I'm waiting for it! I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that this is the end of my saddle woes and that I'll finally get to ride without stressing that I'm hurting my horse - lately, I've been limited to only very occasional rides and keeping them to less than a half hour and not really working, but rather just going for a quick trot/walk in the arena so as not to injure him. With a fitting saddle, I can actually do what I love again!