I think we can all agree that saddle shopping is just maddening on a good day. Add in the fact that I’ve tried NINE (yes, 9) dressage saddles so far and haven’t found one… I’m losing it.
Doc has a perfectly well-fit lovely dressage saddle. But… it fits his owner. Who has about 7″ on me, I’m pretty sure all in her legs. It’s basically impossible for me to use my leg in it. What the neverending carousel of horrors saddles has taught me is that I need a short flap. Like, 14.5″ or 15″ short. I sat in a barnmate’s and I swear angels sang because I learned I have LEGS! They exist.
Unfortunately, when you add in short flap + not-a-kids-size-seat and toss in a side of princess and the pea pony – large wither, big sloping set back shoulders, curvy back and LOTS OF OPINIONZ, suddenly you find yourself being quotes $6000 for a custom saddle and you kind of just slither away to cry.
Doing BN dressage in a jump saddle surely isn’t the end of the world, but… it’s also not my favorite. And now that I’ve experienced the magical short flap dressage saddle, it’s all I think about. And dream about.
So, uh, if you know of a magical 17.5-18″ MW or W short flap dressage saddle with half/short blocks to fit a curvy back that won’t mean selling organs on the black market, hit a girl up?
Or, if you know anyone looking to buy a kidney, that might work too.
As soon as event camp was over this year, budget season started at work and free time became a concept of a past life, meaning actually doing more than talking to work friends about it until their eyes glazed over was not happening. But, it’s a Thursday afternoon, things are… creepy quiet around here and I’m taking full advantage.
Just like last year, camp was my favorite week of the year. Ponies and horse friends all for a week straight? Best summer camp ever.
Day 1 started with a dressage lesson with Sharon White and one other BN rider. I knew I wanted to work on transitions and our canter, because… well the struggle has been real this year. She had us warm up on our own to get a feel for the horses and then jumped right in, having me focus on keeping my hands in line to the bit and pushing Doc up and into the bridle. I took notes after my lesson and… have no idea where they ended up, of course.
We focused on getting him equally supple to both sides – using my inside rein forward and out instead of back while holding the outside rein and shoulder, getting him to bend around my leg. As we kept riding, she really focused in on the expectation that he should not take all my leg to keep going and he should respond to a “whisper” vs needing to shout. All things we’ve obviously heard (many times) before… but how easy is it to forget that I’m not his engine and don’t need to be “pedaling the bike” every step. By the end of the lesson, he was going as well as he ever has with me and it felt amazing.
The afternoon brought a stadium lesson with Tim Bourke. I loved riding with Tim last year, although apparently as he informed me this year, I “scared the shit out of him” when I casually revealed I’d broken my back and been on my horse for a week mid-lesson. Oops? I assured him I had no surprises to drop on him this year and off to work we went.
We started with a grid of trot poles – five if I remember correctly. Trotted through, then started building them up into jumps, eventually becoming a full grid of one strides. We had an outside line set for 6 we did in 5, 6 and 7 strides, focusing in on adjustability and eventually added a full course – grid to a single oxer, down the outside line in 7, back up the grid the other way, single vertical, rollback, outside line in 5 coming down – needless to say, the only way I remember that is because I texted it to someone that afternoon. I was also nearly dead when I finished, but talk about worth it when you hear Tim Bourke tell you that it was “nearly perfect” and the best stadium round he’s ever seen you ride. Um, air punch celebration much?
It definitely wasn’t perfect – I botched a distance coming into the grid spectacularly for instance, but when I said as much he brushed it off with a great lesson – things won’t always go right (in fact, never), so what makes it perfect was how you react to it and keep riding. Which, for one of the first times, I was able to on a stadium course.