Saddle Review, 1 Week In

So how has the saddle ridden?

In a word, amazing.

But although being a CWD makes this saddle amazing, this is more a review of having a properly fitted saddle than of having a CWD.  So I hope you keep that in mind when you read it.

This is what my lower leg looked like in the event that we won last year:


I know that's pretty bad, and it's not all the saddle's fault, but looking back on it now, my lower leg is precisely following the front and rear blocks of that saddle.

More obvious example of block-following here, you can see both blocks clearly.

Observation #2: The Toulouse was pretty easy to do Dressage in, because it held my pelvis upright - and I mean REALLY held my pelvis upright.  On the flip side, that made it pretty hard to close my hip angle over fences:

I just want to push my hips back in every jumping picture.

I called Mary after I first rode in it, gushing about how my lower leg didn't move, felt like it couldn't move, at every gait.  And about how much sense it made when I jumped that first tiny crossrail - I was rock solid.  And about how it felt like a glove cradling my butt.  And about how my trainer remarked that my leg looked "snuggled in" to the exact right position.

"Well, you've probably never had a saddle that fit you before.  That's what it's supposed to feel like.

I thought about that in my next few rides.  My leg is staying underneath me now, I feel so stable over fences.  It doesn't take a ton of effort to keep it there.  By no means did it solve all of my position problems, but it made it 75% easier to fix them.  How many hours of lessons did I spend in that last saddle, which was the right seat size but too long in the flap, trying to fix something that wasn't entirely my fault?

Snuggled.  I am in desperate need of pictures of me on my horse in this saddle.  EquiNovice, I'm giving you a call as soon as it's a suitable temperature for humans outside!

I've never been one to blame equipment for my problems, even though I know it makes a difference.  I still won't, but I know what it feels like now to have your tack working with you instead of against you.

One final thought from a short person: I've always thought that flap length didn't matter as much in jump saddles, but mattered a lot in Dressage saddles.  I've told several people that I knew I needed to hold out for a custom Dressage saddle, since I need a short flap for sure in those, but that an off-the-rack jump saddle was fine.  I think these last two saddles have taught me that it actually does matter, and that I do need a short flap in both.


The shortest flap CWD makes.

The moral of the story is, never compromise on fit, and actually having a saddle fitter fit you is worth the money (I had never done that before).

28 comments:

  1. I'm saving up currently with the hope of being able to purchase a correctly fitting saddle this summer and short flaps are a huge thing for me as well. I'm really looking forward to finally finding the perfect saddle just the way you did :)

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    1. Good luck! It will be worth it for sure.

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  2. My jump saddle is cut to me and it makes such a difference. Now to save up for a dressage saddle!

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    1. That fund is already beginning. :)

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  3. When I'm ready to upgrade from my wintec (which I use for jumping) I will absolutely use a saddle fitter (after reading all about your's and emma's saddle searches!) Congrats again :)

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  4. yay so glad you love it so much!! i feel the same way about my new saddle too - like it's opened my eyes to the possibilities haha.

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  5. How awesome!!! I know right now my all-purpose saddle definitely keeps me in more of a dressage position even though I used it for hunting this fall. Oh well, you live and you learn! I am reading The Horse's Pain-Free Back and Saddle Fit Book right now which is opening my eyes to so many more things to keep in mind, so it's been interesting to read that as you are talking about fitting and riding in a saddle that actually fits both of you!

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    1. Yeah, it makes me wish I could work with someone who can actually see and touch him, but Mary has seen and ridden him in the past, so it was better than remote fitting. There really is a lot to keep in mind.

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  6. I'm a short-legged person too. My tall boots are 16" o.o
    If your horse likes Black Country saddles, the Eloquence comes standard in a 16" flap. Which is PERFECT for me. I also like their jumps (and also Loxley) because they do 13-13.5" standard jump flaps. 14" jump flaps are just too long for me. Short lower leg ppl, unite! Of note, I'm 5'5", so you wouldn't think this would be a problem for me :)

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    1. He's never tried a Black Country saddle, though I've heard they fit his shape well. I'll definitely need a Dressage saddle at some point so that's a good thing to think about!

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  7. Congrats on the saddle working out so well!!

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  8. I ran into the same thing when I got my custom Antares. My lower leg has been my kryptonite, until I sat and rode in my custom saddle. Did the Antares fix all of my problems? Heck no. But it did help to correct my lower leg position and made me feel more stable over fences. I had never ridden in a custom saddle before I got mine, and now I understand WHY people get custom saddles haha.

    So glad you love your CWD! :)

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    1. Yeah, I guess it's like you either pay for things with your time (trying all the wrong saddles/paying for lessons to fix things that are the saddle's fault) or money (custom, to ensure it fits). Thanks!

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  9. It's the most important piece of equipment and often the most overlooked! Glad it's doing it's job well!

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  10. A fitting saddle is such a huge thing. ;-) Glad you finally have one. I don't have the cwd budget or my own personal Mary, but I've ridden in enough saddles that I know what I like and I know what I look for. I consider myself really lucky right now to have two saddles that fit myself and my horse really quite well.

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    1. That's all that matters, which is what I tried to get across. I don't want anyone to get discouraged because they don't have a Mary/can't get one, just try to find what fits you.

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  11. Hooray, you got your saddle!
    I'm delighted you're happy with it :-)

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    1. Thank you, it was worth the wait and all the bareback rides!

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  12. Oh this makes me want to look into a saddle that not only fits my horse... but also me! One day :)

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    1. I highly recommend it! Your saddle right now is so nice though, I really like Prestiges and am considering them for my Dressage saddle.

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  13. So So So glad you are happy and its totally true, a lot of off the racks do work against riders :)

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    1. Totally. If you are the right size for them, they are good, but if you aren't, they just aren't going to work for you.

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  14. Saddle fit for me has become even more important as my position changes - my last two saddle adjustments, I have tried out a different dressage saddle in a smaller seat size and am amazed at the difference it made. So happy for you that the new saddle is awesome :)

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    1. Smaller seat size, huh? Interesting. Dressage saddle fitting is my next adventure, probably not til next year though.

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