Remember all that “Princess And the Pea” saddle fitting from 2010? You know, the one where I tried saddle after saddle after saddle after saddle after, oh fuck just give me one that works, please dear god, I don’t care how much is costs!!
Yeah. That one. That cost me almost $4,000.
Well, turns out that it didn’t fit.
Basically, the fitter (who shall remain nameless) is very nice person who is also an idiot. An idiot in the saddle fitting business for decades. An idiot who had to be shown some issues by my trainer before going, “ohhhh, I see now.” The idiot who told me to buy this saddle.
Here’s how this unfolds:
So Rico is in training with the trainer. Basically, we’re trying to learn german (Because I like the german dressage riders so much more than the Dutch – Isabell Werth over Anky any day) and having two non-speakers trying to teach each other = FAIL. So Trainer is riding Rico and teaching him words like “cat” and “run” and “straightness” and “thru” in german. In the hopes that when I climb on, he goes, “Hey Mom – this is how you say “cat” and this is what “straighness” feels like, oh and are you saying “thru?”” Its all good.
But in the process, as he’s developed muscles, his saddle started to pinch him. Which is NORMAL. Imagine you wearing a big old leather backpack while you’re working out at the gym, and not being able to adjust the fit even though you’ve developed pecks and gotten a smaller waist. It would suck. But like I said, this is why you have saddle fitters – they can adjust part of the saddle to make it wider or narrower or more padding or less padding. These people are trained (supposedly) to understand how the saddle’s position on the horse interferes or supports the movement of the shoulder and back and distributes the rider’s weight appropriately.
Given that Trainer and I already were concerned about my saddle Fitter’s ability to be effective when adjusting the saddle (meaning we had almost zero confidence based on the previous fitting and the comment Fitter made about, “I may have to send this back to the shop to get adjusted.” (its a custom, adjustable saddle – what the f#$% could you possibly need to do that you don’t have tools for in that big ass trailer you’re hauling around that says “Saddle Fitter” on it?), I started looking around for a fitter that serviced my brand of saddles and might be available to come here, or me there.
And lo, and behold, I found one in southern CA. who was coming through town in a few weeks. but it had to be on the hush hush because apparently, these folks aren’t allowed to work in other people’s territory, even though they work for the same people. WTF?
And I am freaked out because I am afraid I might have bought a saddle that will fundamentally not work with my horse’s physiology. Short back, big shoulder, wide barrell. So I asked, when New Fitter showed up if I could ride in some other saddles that might be useful. New Fitter was all, “Sure. No problem. You do have an issue with yours, but I think we can fix it, no big deal.”
So New Fitter lines up about 4 new saddles for me to try – all the same seat size as mine. By saddle #3, New Fitter and Trainer know something isn’t right. I can’t feel any damn thing because I’m all “I like this one” and they are both “We don’t. Your horse doesn’t move well in it.” and I’m all, “Really, it feels all light and airy in the front feet” and they are all “That’s because of the shape of the saddle, not because your horse is actually doing that.” Me: “Oh. bummer.”
Then New Fitter says, “I have an idea. Lets have you ride in yours – I’ll shim it to fit him (so you don’t ahve to pay for a fitting, if you decided to buy a different saddle) and lets see you go, and let you reset your “feel” for your saddle.” I’m game, so off we go. No big deal.
Then New Fitter brings out yet another saddle, and makes me ride in it. After a bit, I look over at New Fitter and Trainer. They are talking much. I am, of course, oblivious to what my horse is doing different. (boy, am I an awesome rider or what?) So I walk Rico over to them and they look at me and say, “Your saddle is too small for you.”
What. The. Fuck.
Apparently, in trying new saddles, it was clear I was hitting the back part of the seat (think of it like hitting the back rest in a chair with your butt) and it was shutting down Rico’s ability to move over and thru his back. (this is very important in dressage – REALLY important if you want to do ANYTHING past 1st level in dressage). So New Fitter got the clever idea to grab a version of my current saddle, but one that was one size in the seat larger.
According to both New Fitter and Trainer, the change in the way my horse moved was REMARKABLE in the right size seat.
So lets recap:
- I shopped for a saddle for eons. I and my horse were fitted to one by a fancy smancy saddle Fitter. I spent THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. LESS THAN TWO YEARS AGO.
- After being irritated by Fitter’s clear lack of understanding in last fitting, Trainer and I become flumoxed on how to adjust saddle.
- I called, begging and pleading a New Fitter. PLEASE help me, other Fitter SUCKS. OTherwise I MIGHT HAVE TO DIE.
- New Fitter arrives, stealth like.
- New Fitter says, yep, you need adjustment. Hold on there – YOU BOUGHT THE WRONG SIZE SADDLE.
- I cry and hopes there is enough cabernet at the house.
- New Fitter cuts me a smoking deal on a new saddle, because CLEARLY I CAN NOT SPEAK GERMAN IN A SADDLE THAT IS TOO SMALL.
- Trainer says, “This explains ALOT. Like how I (Trainer is tiny whipcord and steel, wrapped in dark haired blue eyed package) could get your horse to do things, and then you got on and nadda. He could work for me because I fit in the saddle, he couldn’t work for you because the saddle was too small for you. “
- I pull out the MasterCard. The one with 32% interest.
- And lo’ a new saddle has been ordered.
- New Fitter leaves me 18 inch trial saddle on loan till my new saddle arrives THREE MONTHS FROM NOW.
- I love New Fitter. (who was appalled that Fitter put me in an even SMALLER one during the sizing process)
When I made some comment about needing “a fat girl upgrade” New Fitter immediately corrected me. New Fitter says “saddle fit is about length of thigh bone, not weight. Well, except in extreme cases is it about weight, but that is not even close to the case here – you have a very long thigh bone. That’s all. Don’t stress.”
Yes, I love New Fitter.
And now, so does MasterCard.