Ever since Tiny came home I’ve been riding him in one of Tony’s saddles.  The fit has been ‘ok’, definitely usable, but not ideal long term.  An 18″ seat for a 5’2″ small legged person isn’t ideal.  I’ve basically been swimming in that saddle since October.  We always knew that if he was staying around we’d need something more tailored for us both.  Although the seat was too big for me I’ve actually found it comfortable to ride in.   I could have made do but it was also just a bit too long across Tiny’s back.  So it was time to sort it out.

Our saddle fitter, had been booked to see us in January.  With Tiny’s splint putting him off games for a bit and my confidence wobble that followed, we cancelled.  I needed to be very sure that spending money any more money on him was worthwhile. Not a case of begrudging him what he needs, but being sensible long term.

Maxine Sayer, who is based Dorchester way, thankfully understood our dilemma and we rebooked after a few weeks.   A Master Saddler like Tony, she’s also a fully qualified Saddle Fitter.  Those two had a fair old chat at the start discussing the saddlery world and more, then it was time to see to Tiny.

 

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I’ve never had a saddle fitted to any of my horses before.  They’ve either come with their own saddles when I bought them or by fluke the saddles I’ve had have fitted what I’ve owned.  I’ve never had a problem with a saddle before, but I guess that’s also just luck.  Either way I was eager to watch the process.  Stupidly though I forgot my camera, it would have been great to document. The reality is that I was able to fully concentrate on what Maxine did and said.  Which has to be better for Tiny.  So the only picture you have for this came off my phone at the last minute!

Whoops!

As a Thoroughbred he’s got some of the usual features of the breed. Standing back further there was more to see.  His wither is pretty long and his spine is quite narrow.  Both of which play a large part in the process.  He doesn’t have the muscle wastage that some TB’s have at the front of the wither though.  Maxine asked about his general fitness and health (we laughed at his race battered legs) and what I was hoping to achieve.

Well that was simple.  I’m not Charlotte Dujardin and he’s not going to morph into Valegro!!  So hunting, hacking, bit of general schooling.

A plasticine template was put on his back and an imprint created.  Additional drawings made and paperwork filled out.  Then it was on to the stock of saddles Maxine had brought with her.  When we booked her services we sent some photos through of Tiny.  Side on and from behind and also from slightly above.  This helps the saddler fitter to understand the current shape of the horse in advance.  We told her what sort of saddle he was currently wearing.  From this Maxine had a better idea of what to bring.

3 saddles came out her truck to try.  All 17″ which would be a better fit for me.  Each was tried on his back initially and one was discarded at that point.  The tricky aspect to fitting a saddle to Tiny is the potential that at times Tony might need to ride him.  It’s not often, but it happens, mainly with ride & lead days.  That was a secondary requirement though.

With 2 choices it was time to sit in them both.

One of the saddles was basically a smaller version of the Ideal Grandee GP he’d been wearing.  A good start as I do like that saddle!  There were a few differences in where the blocks were but that’s all.  The next was a much more compact option.  Still 17″ but with a shorter panel and seat.  After riding in both it really was a split decision.  Both felt good.  Neither moved on him.  However I just felt that the Ideal might be the better option.  Maxine did some flocking work and I went back out in that once more to try it again.  I knew this was the better all round option when I came back in.   So the paperwork was done and it was time to discuss money!

The 18″ was discussed again and we decided that if Tony did need to ride, he could in either the 17″ or 18″, it wouldn’t be much of an issue.

So, fingers crossed I have my saddle.  I’ve ridden in it a few times and although it’s a little different it should do the job, time will tell and if it’s not quite right then I’ll go back to the drawing board.

I really enjoyed the whole process.  The anatomy aspect was totally fascinating.  So too the discussions about the benefits of saddle fitters working in conjunction with other specialists – such as physios – to give the owner and horse a better end result.

 

If you are in the Dorchester area and need a saddle fitter then I recommend giving Maxine Sayers a call to see if she can help.

 

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With love from me and The Orange One, see you next time!

Rachel xx

 

If you missed the first part of this series and you’d love to discover more, then head to  Back in the Saddle – Part 1 for the original instalment…