Hi, I'm new here. I have been out of horses for 10 years, and now a friend has talked me into taking her horse and getting back into horses.
He's a 15.3hh Standardbred, great temperament. Big trot, but at least it's a trot (he has a pace too). He spooks in place, which is important to me. And he's used to little kids riding him (I have 3 young boys).
So my questions...
1) I'm looking at saddles. The used saddles available around me seem to be limited. I did go into the tack shop and talk to the owner about saddles, tried one out to see what size I need (she noted that I had longer legs than she thought - I am tall and leggy), talked about my horse's shape and what he'll need, etc. She suggested a Wintec 250 AP 18". At first, I was thinking of the old Wintecs I rode 15-20 years ago (the ones you can lift with your pinky), but she showed me a used one (above my price point) that actually feels like a saddle. They've obviously changed greatly. Phew! My question is... What is the difference between the 250 AP and the 500 AP? Doing some googling, a lot of people seem to recommend the 500 instead, BUT it looks like at that time, the 250 maybe didn't have the gullet change system? They do now, and it's the newer version which I think said you can change it by hand - no tools needed.
I'll mostly be just pleasure riding at home. I have no plans to show this horse. I will do a lot of flat work, but can't completely rule out some low jumping. My main goal right now is to get back in shape, and learn to ride this horse's big trot. :)
2) What is the norm as far as negotiating or price matching NEW saddles at tack shops? I wouldn't mind supporting the local business and even paying a tiny bit more to do so, but as it stands, the saddle I'm looking at retails for $388. Add in 8% sales tax and you're up to $418. I can get the saddle online with free shipping for $349 just about anywhere, and I saw at least one place that had discounts on the stuff to go with it if you ordered the stuff at the same time as the saddle (and I will need the pad, girth, stirrups, leathers).
3) Helmets... I tried on Troxel, Tipperary, and Charles Owen. Of course, the CO was the only one that fit my head, and I wasn't wanting to pay that much. I looked at my old helmet (which is manufactured 1989, so yeah, I need to replace it like 15 years ago! ). It's an IRH Olympian. Does anyone know if the IRHs fit like they did back in 1989? My local tack shop doesn't sell IRH, but we're taking a trip to Memphis next weekend, and I'm sure there will be some tack shops along the way or even in that city that would sell IRH. I'm going to take a look. The closest one to me is an hour away. I'd like to get a vented helmet. I'm in the south. It gets hot here. Do the different IRH styles fit differently? If so, which vented version fits like the Olympian (assuming they still fit like they did in 1989)? I remember as a kid having a hard time with helmet fit.
I think that's all my questions for the moment. :)