I had been riding in a borrowed Simco Western saddle and it was working okay, but it was too wide for Trophy and when I put my fingers under the pommel, I could feel the saddle pushing down. It may not have ever pressed down on Trophy, but I couldn’t be certain of that. While it may have been in my mind, it felt like he was fussy while I was riding him with this saddle.
The day that I was riding and we found the kitten, I was riding in a borrowed endurance saddle made by a saddle maker in Arizona named Frank Marciante. This saddle was too wide for Trophy and like the Simco, was potentially hitting him in the withers as he moved. I found several of these Marciante saddles for sale in various areas of the country and they all were between $400 and $500. I was nervous about buying a saddle sight unseen.
Over a month ago, I found a used Marciante saddle at a consignment shop in North Carolina, but it was listed as being a 14″ seat. On Tuesday, I called the tack shop to see if the saddle was still there (it was) and if they could please re-measure the seat. It was my understanding that Marciante only made saddles with a 15″ seat. I was right, the saddle was a 15″. I was told that the leather was a bit dried out, but otherwise, the saddle was in good condition. I had been sent home early from MM (the lunch was a bit slow and all the prep work was done) so I loaded up Gel and headed out to the tack shop which was about two hours away.
The saddle leather was quite dry, but everything appeared to be in good order so I bought the saddle. Originally it was listed for $299, but the owner marked it down to $199. I brought it home, cleaned and oiled it. I almost didn’t try it on Trophy last night, to tell you the truth, I was afraid it wouldn’t fit. But it did!!!!! Oh, what a relief. I could have brought the saddle back, but I hated to make that drive again and if it didn’t fit, I’d be back to square one. Now, the only thing I need to figure out is what type of pad to use under the saddle. I used my square Western pad which is way too long for Trophy. There’s still a bit of saddle roll when I mount, but that can be fixed by using a mounting block. Most people tighten the girths on saddles way, way too tight. You’ll notice in the video link below that a lot of these riders breast collars and some even use cruppers which help to hold a saddle in place. An endurance horse (any horse really!) needs to be able to expand his rib cage in order to breath. Ultimately, I want to be able to use my balance and leg strength to hold me in place, not relying on an over-tight girth. Last night, I soaked the rigging and stirrup leathers (which are made from heavy nylon webbing) in Murphy’s Oil Soap (a wonderful product) and re-oiled the saddle. It already looks 100 percent better.
While riding yesterday afternoon, it could have been just my imagination, but it felt like Trophy had a lot more spring in his step. He certainly had a lot more spring in his spook! Once, Gel startled him and he ran off a few feet before I stopped him. This is the first time he’s done that. I have to wonder if the poor-fitting saddles I was previously using restricted his movement. I’ll know better tonight. I only did a short ride.
This video was sent to me by a friend and I keep watching and watching it. It has so inspired me to get Trophy ready to ride in a limited distance endurance ride in the spring … if I can afford it!!!! I have a lot of conditioning to do, both on me and the horse. Trophy is the type of horse that would go until he died and I am not in condition to ride that many miles (30) at a trot and canter. All in good time.
If the lunch is slow at MM, I get sent home early. I was sent home early Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s okay I guess. I come in earlier than the other prep people so I usually get about six hours in. Thursday, Friday and Saturday should be busy enough so I won’t be sent home.
The kitten, re-named by Wally to Tutti-fruity is doing well. She’s acting like a kitten now. She gets more energetic every day. As I write this, she’s messing around in the box that we keep papers and cardboard to be burned.
Off to finish my chores.
Until later …