Finally, we tack up with the new saddle + Thinline saddle fitter pad.
First, about the pad. It is quilted on top, and lined + edged with fleece. The channel sits up from the underneath of the pad, and has no fleece. There are four very well made velcro-ed pockets that hold nice flat shims, which stay put. The pad came with two sets of shims, different thicknesses. I figured that gives me three options: either one of the shims alone, or both together, which is what I tried today.
Our preparation for riding gave me pause. Val was acting super squirrely. Wouldn't stay still, tried numerous times to walk off, head tossing, acted like a far away troupe of crows was certainly death dealing. Then right on cue, my noisy neighbor cranked up the volume and rode various vehicles up and down the property while his dogs barked maniacally. Luckily - his week on of work starts tomorrow. The week will be peaceful. I had a moment of thinking well maybe today isn't the best day to ride... then I thought - screw that. ;)
We warmed up on a loose rein, and from the beginning I was getting halts off my seat. It felt like all I had to do was tip my pelvis back ever so slightly and "fill the sail". (draw my front line forward) Once we picked up some contact, we worked on serpentines and getting a big walk. I did on half of one serpentine and Val was onto me, eagerly anticipating our exercise, which made me laugh out loud.
My ask for the trot was answered immediately, every time, off my leg only. There was much less lugging in the corners, and I barely touched my whip the whole time. We worked on transitions, figure eights and fifteen meter circles. Smooth like buttah. Cooled off working without reins - stopping and going was simple, but turning needs some practice.
It was a great ride.
I'm satisfied that the saddle change was a good decision, and the pad will tide us over until Val is more muscley. We're back on track - no excuses now!