In most cases I would argue that while clothes do not make the man, the can certainly help the overall impression. In the horse world however, tack does make the horse! Even the best horse will not do well with ill-fitting tack and it is somewhat of a hobby of mine to “window shop” not only for horse that will never be mine, but also equipment. I have recently become very interested in saddle fitting, a product of my current ‘chair’ coming to the end of its life. My saddle is in poor shape: the seat has ripped up on one side showcasing the foam cushion of the underneath, it is in desperate need of a reflocking, and some of the stitching is coming loose. I love my Prestige, but I have finally accepted that either I am going to need to have a major overhaul done on it, or a new saddle needs to take its place.
Stereotypically I would categorize dressage people as the ones who believe that something is always wrong with their tack, and a new gadget could be that miracle answer to why their horse “just won’t do the Grand Prix”. With my eventing background I like to think of myself not quite in that group – but I am really a DQ at heart, after all! However, with my limited means and my wonderfully supportive-but-not-so-extravagantly-wealthy family, I usually fall into the category of “would really love to have but cannot afford because board/training/showing is more important and both is not an option”. Don’t get me wrong – I have never wanted for anything in my life! I am just not the girl who gets a new saddle every few months because I decide that my current one is the wrong shade of black.
I have ridden in an array of saddles, but most recently have fallen in love with the Custom Saddlery line. I have never had a saddle customized for Val in the four years that I have owned him. I have run through three used saddles in that time, all of them never quite right but in the budget. Today at the barn one of our local saddle fitters happened to be out fitting another client and I asked her if she had time to look at mine when she was all finished. She took a look at it and let’s just say that ill-fitting doesn’t even describe how embarrassed I was! My horse is a saint! I had sat in most of the Custom line up in Gladstone with their representative up there which helped when I mentioned which model I was really interested in. Serendipitously, she happened to be holding onto an older (’04 model) Advantage that was just my size – and she even let me keep it to ride in!
I had a super ride in the new saddle today; I finally tacked him up in the double and really rode him to see just how the saddle really felt. I am in love! Super shoulder-in’s, nice schooling canter pirouettes, a little piaffe/passage, nice zig-zag half passes in both trot and canter, expressive and big changes, and even clean four tempis (Yes! We counted to four!). Now let’s just cross our fingers that the price works out, I can keep it and they can custom fit the tree and flock it for him. It would be a prayer answered and a dream come true.