Well... I have now officially entered the world of the desitute... lol. I've ordered a saddle that i've wanted for about 4 years! A custom, handmade Peter Nelson Stock Saddle. I'm so excited!
Peter nelson is fairly local to me (about a 3 hour drive away) and competes at MGA competitions, the same as I do. As a result, i've had a lot of opportunities to ride in saddles made by him, through the mounted games community. Every one of them has been amazing!
I decided when I got into ASh that I eventually wanted a handmade stock saddle, so it would fit me and my horse well, and be suitable for shows. I've been researching handmade stock saddles for about a year... The only two I like as much as the Peter Nelson saddles start at $6,000.
Peter's saddles cost $3,800. Bargain! He mentioned that the price is due to go up, but Equine Influeza slowed his business down. So I finally bit the bullet and chatted to him about his saddles at the comp this past weekend. He told me a ton about them... He makes a very cenetred seat, which is at odds with the older style stock saddle, that places you toward the back of the saddle with your feet more forward. He hangs his stirrup bars further back to create a more centered, 'dressage' type seat. He orders his trees from a guy in Victoria, who apparently is horribly unreliable, but the best tree maker he can find. This tree maker has told him that he is the only one who orders stock saddle trees with a centered seat. He positions the knee rolls according to your individual neds, and can also lengthen or shorten them. The saddles are super close contact, which I want.
I had a chance to ride in a few of his saddles that were there... the saddle he was riding in, had a lower cantle to allow for greater ease in getting on and off in mounted games. I rode in this saddle on Buddy (a friends horse) as my horse was at home nursing an injury. Very comfy, stirrups were too long but it didn't really make a difference. We then decided to go get Bundy the next day to try some more saddles. The next day I was able to try a brand new saddle that he had made for another rider there. This saddle was specifically designed for use in ASh shows and will be ridden in at the ASH nationals this weekend. Ah... I loved this saddle. It had the higher cantle, larger knee rolls, and was a darker colour. All his saddles have beautiful tooling on the flaps.
After riding for about 10 minutes in this saddle I decided to go ahead with ordering one... Peter took measurements of Bundy's wither, topline, shoulder, etc.
Later on I had a quick test ride in a friends Peter Nelson saddle, with shorter knee rolls... And loved it even more! So I think i'll be going with that style... Ah i'm so excited!