Monday, February 11, 2013

Dressage saddle fitting

I mentioned in my last post that Red seems to get a bit back sore with extended riding. The real truth is that none of our saddles have been specifically purchased or fitted to Red, with the exception of my husband's jousting saddle. Our Wintecs have fit him well enough in the past, but if I'm going to be spending more time asking for more precise movements, I want to make sure his back is comfortable and stays that way.

Enter my amazing Reactor Panel saddle. I originally bought it for Saga, who had very high withers, a deep "hole" right behind his shoulder, and a long flat back. Yeah, it looks weird, but those panels float over the shoulder and flex with the horse. The difference between the RP and a traditional wool-flocked panel saddle on Saga was like night and day - he instantly stopped with the head tossing and "hopping" in the trot. *I* like the saddle because it doesn't have a super-deep "bucket" seat like some dressage saddles do, so I can get out of it if I need to. I've also discovered that because of the flexibility of the panels, it fits a variety of horses reasonably well, including Cash and Oberon. However, the panels were too long for Red, and came up well onto his shoulder. I knew (from ordering a show pad last fall) that I had the 24 inch "long" panels instead of the standard 23 inch panels, so I called up RP to see if I could order something that would fit him better.

The customer service at RP is second to none. I called up, they immediately put their master saddler on the line and pulled up the info about my saddle. Mine is a Baker with a 13 inch tree - a good, standard size - but the Bakers tend to run flat so there was some concern it might not be a good fit for Red. They explained how to pull off the panels and take pictures of how the saddle sat on Red's back, which I dutifully did.

It doesn't look like there's much wither clearance, but that's because there aren't any panels on the saddle. Overall the saddle sits on him well.

One nice thing about Red being the size he is - I didn't need a stepladder to take this picture!

Looks pretty good (erm, except for needing a good cleaning)!

I heard back from them after about 3 business hours (!!!!) and they confirmed it looked like the saddle would fit him well. We got the panels and the disks (which stick the panels to the saddle) sorted out, and everything should be here today. Not only that, but they agreed to exchange the unused white show pad I got last fall for the long panels (unused b/c Saga was injured just after I got the pad) for the same pad for the regular panels. Wow! It's been almost 5 months since that pad was purchased, but they were very understanding and said it would be no problem. How nice!

So, fingers crossed that the new panels will make the saddle nice and comfy for Reddums. Certainly it's a whole lot less expensive than buying a whole new saddle!

15 comments:

  1. Great that worked out for you!!!

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    1. Thanks, I'm so glad it was that easy! Fitting saddles is usually a pain in the a$$.

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  2. Oooooh I just love solving saddle issues :)

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    1. Me too, especially when the solution doesn't include buying a new saddle, lol!!!

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  3. Oooo I wish they had those saddles here. I'd snap one up in a second. SO sick of having to buy a new saddle for each horse. Bleurgh.

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    1. LL, you may be able to find them online in AUS. They're sort of uncommon, but perhaps someone somewhere has one they want to part with? You may also be able to find a used one on the RP site that will fit nice round horses, although I can imagine that shipping from here to AUS would be a nightmare.

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  4. Those saddles look really cool. At first glance, I would think that they would not offer enough clearance for on a high-withered horse, but you said they worked for Saga?

    I can't figure out if this saddle qualifies as treeless, either. The fact that you can purchase new panels and keep the rest of the saddle is pretty amazing.

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    1. Val, it doesn't seem to have enough clearance because in those pictures, the panels aren't attached. What you're seeing is just the main part of the saddle. The panels are attached with double-sided velcro disks, which look like hockey pucks. The disks come in different heights so you can adjust the height of the saddle to the panel based on what sized disk you use. You can even use a different height disk in the front than the back, so that the saddle will sit level on your downhill horse.

      The saddles are not actually treeless. The main part of the saddle is just like a normal saddle - just imagine the wool-flocked panels have been removed. So the part you're sitting on is solid, but the panels float and move over the horse's back. It's pretty cool!

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  5. What a great company. Wish they were all that nice to deal with.

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    1. Terry, as I have gotten older, good customer service has become more and more important to me. I'm happy to pay a little more for really good service, and RP will definitely continue to get my business!

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  6. Looks like a very shiny saddle to me. Will you eventually have enough saddle parts to fit any horse at all?

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    1. At this rate I'm going to have enough saddles to open my own damn saddlery. Either that or we're going to have to build more saddle racks!

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  7. I've used RP saddles for years and love them - not yet found a horse that we can't accomodate with one of the 5 or 6 we have :-)

    Sadly the company which has the franchise over here are a nightmare to deal with, which is a real shame.

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    1. Haha, clearly I just need to have 5 or 6 saddles and all my problems would be fixed!

      Bummer that the support folks over there are so awful. The team here is super-nice to work with.

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