Saddle Shopping - input welcome, please
Continuation from my Black Country thread...
I had a saddle fitter out in early October from a very reputable, high-end store in my area. He didn't spend very much time with me or Ronan, and recommended a Kentaur Naxos (the only saddle he even tried on Ronan's back) with a Thinline pad. He didn't watch me ride, and he 'forgot' (?) to call me for a 6 week follow-up appointment. Basically I feel very short-changed by this individual, and not cared about at all. My budget wasn't that large, at $2500, and I felt very brushed off.
Last week I started riding with a GP coach who said right off the bat that the saddle doesn't fit. I called the company and complained that there is no way that a saddle would become that ill-fitting within 6-7 weeks from purchase. The GP coach said, hands down, to get either a CWD or another French-made saddle.
I complained to the company that sold me this saddle, and was told to contact another saddle fitter from the same company, and that they wanted to make it right. I met with her last night and am very impressed with how thorough the entire process is, and it really showed me how much the first fitter hurried though and didn't give the whole experience. This woman did tracings, took photos, and tried on various high(er) end brands which fit awful. She then suggested that I go with an entirely custom-made Black Country saddle. It would be truly custom as the tree would be made to Ronan's back, it isn't a "custom" where the padding is rearranged to the horse's back. We discussed other options, and her opinion is that he needs the support that a Black Country K-panel (or alternatively a dropped panel) will offer. She said that some other saddles may be able to be padded up to more or less work, but she's worried that they would sore him after time.
I fully believe that a saddle that fits only needs a small saddle pad to keep the panels clean.
She has taken the initiative to talk to the owner of the store and arrange full refund of the Kentaur as well as the Thinline pad that I bought to make the Kentaur fit; with the funds going towards the new purchase. I'm kind of excited about the prospect of a custom saddle, even if it isn't French - haha. I'm also a tiny bit excited about being able to pick everything out, from the leather colour to the type of leather to the piping colour. But I am trying really hard to not let that override my sensibilities.
She recommended, hands down, a Black Country Ricochet. Total price comes to about $3300.
Today I had a rep from CWD out to see Ronan and myself. The take-home message basically was to get a medium tree of whatever saddle I wanted (i.e. fit *me*) and we could order panels in for whatever horse, whenever - so it's basically mine for life. She had me ride in a few saddles. Saddle #1, a demo, was relatively uncomfortable, but kept me stable. Saddle #2 was an 18" used saddle for sale - no go. Saddle #3 was the most comfortable, but it had me practically riding on the pommel, on my crotch. The rep liked #3 best, and explained that if I got a forward flap, it would alleviate the pommel/crotch problems. Ronan didn't go really well in any of the saddles, but again we were fitting *me* and not him.
Basically, she's going to look out for a medium tree, forward flap 17 1/2" saddle, then we would pad to fit Ronan.
I guess CWD has a storage place in the States, so if she finds a saddle for sale there, I would have to pay shipping to get it here to Alberta, then ship it back if it doesn't work. Then I have to wait 4-6 weeks to order panels (I would pad the saddle to fit in the mean time) and then be without a saddle for 2 weeks while it had the panels redone.
I rode in the Black Country again afterwards, and it was *so* much more comfortable in comparison, and Ronan went well in it. HOWEVER, it is a brand that I know my GP coach won't like, and it's a deep seat. Two strikes against it.
I'm so very confused. My GP coach is in California till mid-December, and I need to have something decided before then.
- My coach will like it
- It will hold its resale value
- I didn't feel comfortable in any of the saddles I rode in tonight
- I am not confident that the panel change will make so much of a difference that it will magically fit Ronan, hands down.
- "saddle for life" - basically it's *mine* for life, and panels are swapped out (to the tune of $600 each time) to fit individual horses. I'm not sure that this will be good for Ronan as it's such a general fit.
- Very comfortable, I feel very secure and able to use myself correctly
- Ronan moves well in the demo
- Completely new and within $200 of my top price range
- Completely custom to Ronan and myself
- Relatively sure my GP coach won't like it.
- Deep seat
- Unsure of resale value, it being custom-made and all
Thoughts, please? I'm actually *very*stressed about this...
I will be trying a Devocoux and Childeric this week at some point..
The lovely images above provided by CVLC Photography cvlphotography.com