Some people wouldn’t spend as much on a saddle as on a new living room sofa. But as far as I know, an ill-fitting sofa never caused anyone to land in the middle of the living room floor.
In Chapter 9 of my new book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Find Meaning, Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life, I make an unapologetic confession. I own three saddles. And while I love each and every one of them for very different reasons, none of them fit my horse.
As it turns out, there’s a whole lot to this saddle fitting thing — whether you ride English or Western, and I found a few experts to help me understand this complex issue — and I barely scratched the surface! As you follow my well-worn train of saddle frustration, you might as well learn from my mistakes, get ideas of where you might find the experts you need, and have a decent idea of what questions to ask and what kinds of things to look out for.
The bottom line? While it’s hard (and usually impossible!) to get horse experts to agree on anything, I did find a general consensus on this topic. When you’re trying to fit this “moving target,” there are three things to look for:
1. Your horse has to be comfortable and able to move freely without pain.
2. You need to be comfortable and well balanced in the saddle.
3. The saddle must be designed and suited to the purpose you intend to use it for.
When you’re saddle shopping, it’s easy to find a saddle that meets any one of these criteria, sometimes two. But girlfriends, take it from me and keep on shopping until you find one that meets all three. You may have to spend some money (and once you find the one you want, you might be able to find it used at any one of a bazillion online or in person resale sources.), but believe me, it will be worth it.
And, it may not be as cozy to watch TV in the evenings sitting on a saddle instead of that Pottery Barn sofa you’ve had your eye on, but at least you’ll have a secure seat when it really counts!
Come! Join the community that’s building around this book. Stop by as often as you can to join the fun, laughter, camaraderie and joy only midlife horses can bring. Find us here, on Facebook,Twitter, YouTube (please send your videos–even camera phone!– and I’ll post them!) and Flickr (send photos of you with your horse!). This is our free Midlife Horses support community — a place for us all to share what we’ve learned, commiserate, celebrate and, to the greatest extent possible, laugh our butts off in the pure joy only midlife horses can bring. I’ve built it — now, y’all come!