Fedex says my Neidersuss is on truck for delivery!
Fedex man has to deliver the saddle to my Dad's house because my address doesn't exist in Fedex-land.
Heck. Someone has to be there to sign for the saddle. Dad needs to run out for a bit. I rush to take my recycling to the dump so I can cover the gap...
As I leave the dump, and turn on to the main highway in front of the school, I spy Fedex man! I run Fedex man down... (not literally)
Fedex man puts the box in the back of my truck... a box not even remotely saddle shaped. (unless you squash it!) As I head for home, obeying the speed limit of course, I ponder what condition the saddle will be in.
Wouldn't have shipped it quite like this, but saddle appears to be intact. Of course I document the package opening ceremony - just in case.
The saddle looks as advertised, excepting more wear than I thought on the billets. Worst case scenario I get them repaired after a while.
Now to the moment of truth... At this point I've got serious butterflies. Buying this saddle was a total crap shoot. What if Val hates it? What if I hate it? I've only just come to grips with the fact that I hated my last saddle.
I grabbed Val, led him up to the tack room, and slipped it on. It very politely sank into the sweet spot. No bridging. Lots of gullet clearance - high and wide. Naturally sits away from his shoulders.
Edited to add this picture without the pad...
I put my sheepskin half pad on and girth it up. So far so good. Off we go to the mounting block. No helmet, no proper footwear, no dressage whip... breaking all the rules. I got on and Val seemed happy with everything, so we did a little test drive.
|Does this saddle make my butt look big?|
Oh - it felt sooooo good to be in the right part of the saddle without fighting my tack. My dad checked for me. My heels were below my hips, my hips were below my shoulders. I asked for a left handed turn on the forehand, perfect, first ask. I asked for the trot, we moved right on out. Immediately - no hesitating or head tossing. Success.
Every silver lining has a cloud... it is a tad wide. It tips forward slightly on his back, and I felt a bit tipped forward onto my crotch while we rode. Definite difference from the chair seat I was thrown into with the Natura, but I did expect this.
My thinking was, without consulting a saddle fitter, I'm super unlikely to get a custom fit on Val. He's just not the easiest to fit. He's got pretty good withers, big ol' shoulders, wide overall, but lacking topline. Going a little on the wide side seemed the best choice. A - because he can't handle pinchy feelings or crowding his shoulders, and B, because with more and more work, he should fill in with muscle. In the meantime, I've got a thinline saddle fitter pad with shims coming to prop up the front.
What makes me a little sad, is how long Val had to put up with discomfort, and how long he tried to tell me about it. And... how long I kept thinking that the problem was that I sucked at riding. I doubted I be able to "do anything" with my horse, dressage-wise, when the simplest things seemed so freaking hard sometimes.
I'm letting it go, but hoping to absorb the lessons I'm supposed to learn from this saddle adventure - mainly - always listen to your horse, and try not to be so hardheaded.
I'm looking forward to our future rides. (and we're not quitting bareback!)