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The Pain… “Joy” of Saddle Shopping

Let me preface this blog with the fact that I hate jean shopping. Hate’s not even a strong enough word, loathe, despise, abhor, all compounded together in a run on sentence of hate is a better description of my feelings when it’s time to replace my favorite pair of jeans. Ok, now take that hatred and apply it to my growing horse and of course the only thing I could be describing is, you guessed it, saddle shopping. Imagine my joy when I discovered that little Kairos had outgrown yet another saddle just a few weeks ago…

I’m not picky when it comes to saddles. I don’t care what color it is, if it has a more forward knee flap, or if it has different blocks and rolls in all the right places. Kai is still figuring out that all four feet belong on the ground when we’re working so I’m just looking for something that fits him and allows us to do ground work. I can deal with the rest. Despite the extremely wide parameters I have for saddles, I feel like it’s always a battle to find one that works. Kai is extremely short coupled (he has just about a centimeter of back from wither to bum) and that centimeter is about as flat as it can be. Everything I put on him seems to have six inches of clearance between the back paneling and his back or absolutely no clearance in the withers. Oh, his shape has also changed about six times in the past year so I’m in the process of shopping for his third saddle (thank God for half pads that have made the other four changes manageable). My precious beast, I mean baby, is also as the Chiropractor described it, “extremely sensitive” so the saddle has to be a PERFECT fit to make him happy.
I’ve gotten around this in the past by borrowing saddles or unearthing a synthetic gem from the 90’s that my Mom had for her horse.

saddle

saddle2

(Look at that stitching!)
This time around though, it was time to whip out the credit card and prepare to watch it melt. I decided that if I was actually going to do this whole saddle shopping thing, I was going to do it right.

Enter SmartPak to the rescue! Olivia from the Natick Store brought down what felt like a hundred saddles for me to set on little Kai’s sensitive backside one night after work. We ruled out approximately 95 saddles in the first two minutes and took the remaining five for quick spins around the arena. With the exception of me not quite making it up into the saddle one time and a very confused baby horse (umm, you’ve already been up there, why do we keep doing this!?), the whole event went extraordinarily well! Finally, we had it narrowed down to two that looked acceptable enough to try for a short period. The best part of the whole process was that even after Olivia left, I had full access to all of our saddles through the website. It was incredibly easy to filter saddles by all sorts of different specifications! And because of the Test Ride program that is available through the store or to our online customers (yes, that’s right, you don’t have to be local to play with a Test Ride Saddle), I get to keep one of the winners for a week and see how it works out. My dread of saddle shopping has been replaced by the joy of getting a beautiful new saddle that will hopefully last us years (fingers crossed, turn around in a circle and jump up and down 15 times while saying “I hope, I hope, I hope”). Still not looking forward to making the final charge to my credit card, but at least I’ll have a happy horse!

Posted in In the Tack with the Pak

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One comment on “The Pain… “Joy” of Saddle Shopping
  1. Ann Hartson says:

    Never buy a saddle from a source that does not have some kind of test ride program! Smartpak has a great selection of test ride saddles, so take your time and carefully try the saddles. Have someone else take pictures of the saddle, showing how the saddle fits without a saddle pad and rider. Then how it fits with pad and rider. Take pictures from the front, side, and back. Also take some mini videos showing trot and canter under saddle. I also found it very helpful to have someone else ride in it to check their opinion. I strongly recommend involving a saddle fitter in the shopping process, too. Take your time because both you and your horse deserve the best! An added suggestion, you may find that you have to try out another tree style, which unfortunately, Smartpak did not carry at the time that I was shopping (so this is also an added suggestion for Smartpak to look into)…I discovered in my shopping process that my short backed Bashkir Curly Horse also needed a hoop tree saddle,

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