I went to the barn this morning for my lesson, vowing to put a positive spin on things. The saddle I'm using was just fitted, weve happily used it for years, so it shouldn't be THAT bad. I have a shock absorbing half pad, we're "only" jumping so it's not like I'm sitting on her back and asking her to be round. In other words, we can make due until the magical unicorn saddles we need spontaneously appear. Right?
A ha ha ha ha. Yeah, right. Bridget was like "Stupid human. I am DONE with you and this stupid saddle. DONE." I don't blame her. So, I vowed to never, ever put the offending saddle back on her. We used my coach's widest spare saddle instead, which is lovely but at 18.5" and a super forward xc flap, a wee bit big for 5'2" me and short backed B. It's also slightly narrow on Bridget, and eventually crawled up her shoulder and made her sad. (But not as sad as mine because at least it's soft and cushy and mainly just the big forward XC flap bugging her, not the actual tree points like on mine)
|Current saddle all cleaned up for ebay|
So, we had our lesson and I didn't die. I didn't ride well, but also I didn't ride super badly given the saddle is about as effective for me over fences as a big piece of foam strapped to B's back.
B was jumping poorly to start, inverted and up over her shoulder. EC says again, likely saddle related due to her feeling blocked in the shoulder. We finished on some nicer fences with the change in saddles, but she's recommending some time off from jumping until we solve things. We haven't properly jumped in about a month due to part of the arena being frozen, so at least this was a one off, and not a new normal. We don't want to get her in the habit of jumping with poor form when really she should be so good in her shoulders.
We tried a few more barn saddles on B, and none worked. Custom Wolfgang Solo was somewhat Bridget approved, but it was terrible for me. Antares jump saddle was heaven for me, much too narrow for B. Stubbens just don't come wide enough and are mostly too curvy. Pessoa, ditto, but the tree shape is also too much ^ vs the rounder arch we need. So, the elusive XW County is still the best option we've seen in person.
On the plus side, we have a new, independent fitter coming this weekend to do some measurements of B and hopefully come up with some suggestions. She mainly does custom saddles and alterations, though, so Im not sure how helpful she can be as far as recommending existing saddles. The original fitter is also coming back and willing to take a second look at B's saddle, but I think at this point I've lost the faith there. The timing of "hey, maybe B is unhappy with her saddle, let's get it checked" to "there's no way we can use this thing" seems suspicious, given the excessive "No Way" reaction started the day after the fitting. Not blaming anyone, I knew the saddle was getting marginal, but also not willing to potentially spend more $ there either.
My coach is willing to lend me her xc saddle indefinitely, and while its not ideal, at least I can keep on keeping on with the flat work. Also, it's a beautiful saddle worth twice what I paid for B, so there's that. Eye candy and super soft leather is always nice :)
Im trying not to get too panicky about time frames. Our big eventing camp is 6 weeks away, so a jump saddle before then would be super. In the long run, though, more flatwork is always good, and if I end up with a dressage saddle first, there are a few dressage shows we can go to this summer. Worst case there's always next year and my bareback skills get super strong - B is still quite young and obviously I'd rather she's happy and comfortable in her work than take any risk of making her sour or frustrated.
If nothing else, by next week I'm going to have some professionally done tracings and a good knowledge of what doesn't work of us. Look out, Jen the Saddle Geek, you're next.