Thursday, June 11, 2015
I didn't really *need* to, but I needed to. My lovely County Conquest (which was actually up here for a little while) is just far too wide for the horses I've been riding - so much that I was beginning to doubt that I even liked my saddle! I just felt like I could not get my leg on the horse. It turns out that I'm okay with a wide twist only if it is on a wide horse.
There was a Butet I was riding in, and it was okay for a while. It certainly worked better on the narrower creatures than my County. Over time, however, it became less okay, and I really felt like I was fighting to keep my leg under me. The flap was not a good fit at all, either. But I made do.
Eventually, I was looking one day at the used saddle selection at Beval. They didn't have what I thought I wanted (a narrower County), but the lady working there had me sit in some different things. One was and18" Premium Butet with a 2.25 flap (compared to the 17" 2 flap I'd been riding in) for the bargain price of $5700. Not happening. She then asked me if I'd ever sat in a CWD, and I replied that I hadn't.
So she sat me in a CWD. Let me tell you, that saddle was the most comfortable, cloud-like thing I've ever had the privilege of planting my butt in. It wasn't what I "wanted," though, so I wasn't willing to pull the trigger.
Three days later, I couldn't get the darn thing out of my head. So I went back to Beval, sat in a few more things, and ended up taking a different CWD (we'll call this on CWD #2) on trial. I will admit, the original CWD did not feel quite as cloud-like when I sat in it that time, but I still felt I had to just "get it out of my system," so to speak.
I've been anti-French-saddle for so long that I had zero intention of actually liking the saddle or thinking the saddle fit the horses I ride. But dammit, when I was riding in it, my leg (my right leg in particular) just went where it was supposed to go. And I don't mean just in the right place, but also turned correctly from the hip down. I've always had a problem with my toes wanting to super-point out, but riding in that saddle, the problem just disappeared. It was in no way that the saddle was forcing my leg into any particular position; my leg just "fell" into place.
Well, crap. All that was basically the opposite of my planning to hate it.
So I rode in it a few days more. And then Trainer L said she much preferred that saddle for me than the Butet I'd been using.
And THEN Husband pointed out that I was complaining much less about back pain riding in that saddle - even compared to when I've ridden in a County.
Well, crap again.
So then the only question was whether I wanted a more forward flap. If I was seriously considering spending that much money on a saddle, I owed it to myself to try a more forward flap. I returned CWD #2 to find something else to try. As luck would have it, I did find the same model and seat size in a different flap immediately.
So I took it on trial (let's call this one CWD #3). Between the more forward flap and a different panel configuration, CWD #3 rode a bit differently than CWD #2, but it also fit the horses better. After talking with a rep from CWD, I learned that the panel configuration of CWD #3 is considered their "Pro Panel" - a configuration which works relatively well for many horses. (CWD #2 was more built up in the rear of the panel - probably to accommodate for a very uphill build or some similar conformation). The more forward flap was a better fit for my leg. And Trainer L said she much preferred CWD #3 over CWD #2.
So I made an offer on CWD #3 and the seller met me near the middle (I was willing to pay the asking price, so any amount less was just a bonus).
And I have a new (to me) saddle sitting on the saddle rack.
POSTSCRIPT - I had my (serious) doubts about how well this saddle would work for a wider horse, especially when I saw the perfect sweat pattern on the one the TBs. Amazingly, however, CWD #3 was not nearly as much too narrow for one the horses I sometimes ride (an Appendix QH who is nearly as wide as Sparky) as I expected it to be. It looks as though a simple change of panel configuration would result in a saddle which would fit the Appendix. The same has held true for the other wider horses I ride - the saddle fits them much better than I was prepared for it to fit. So much for my preconceived notions about French saddles (well, CWD, anyway).