When I started writing this blog, I was asked to share some true anecdotal experiences in the field. I have managed to do this a couple of times, but I find it extremely difficult without this becoming a blatant testimonial for how great a difference a well-fitting saddle makes (ours in this instance again). So please forgive me if that’s what you read out of this; it is not my intent. This is actually the story one of our Regional Managers, Connie Frantzke, experienced – so I will tell it by paraphrasing her words to give you the sequence of events.
I just wish I could share the feelings etc. that you get when you see a messed – up horse change before your eyes.
This client contacted Schleese about 6 weeks ago insisting we send her a saddle. We said OK, but that we needed the information from our long distance fit kit. She sent in the information from another saddle fitter, listing the horse’s Sprenger measurement at 3.0 (it was actually a 7.0 which is a huge difference!)
Connie told her I would be in the area in a couple of weeks – but then she didn’t register and didn’t show up. 2 weeks after my clinic, she started again with the “just send me a saddle” requests.
She opted to pay the trainer fee for 2 days to our organizer in the area, paid to have the horse trailered, paid for a stall, but couldn’t come herself – so everything was resolved by email and phone.
End result – excellent. Helping horses like Tuscany is what feeds our souls. She is a very interesting, sensitive and stoic Redhead! The advice to her was that since the mare had been sore and off work for a while, and now she would be using new muscles, to take it easy and ride her long and low for a few weeks.
Comments from the client:
“All I can say is WOW!!!!
I got on Tuscany today even though she had four hard days because I was dying to see how she was.
I lunged her for about ten minutes and then tacked her up. Her girthiness was about 1/10 what it usually is. I thought ok this is a good sign. Then I got on her and for seven years this mare has run off when you get on her at the mounting block — today, she stood!! Then she quietly walked off. I lightly walked her around the property and then we went back in the arena and did some long and low at the walk then at the trot. This was yet another movement she really struggled with. Today she did it pretty well. I did a bit of canter then back to some long and low trotting and then back to walk and we strolled around the property. No teeth grinding at all! None! OMGosh!!! So it might be because she’s a bit tired but she hasn’t been this good in a long, long time. It breaks my heart to think the saddle may have caused her pain for seven long years and it amazes me she never once reared or bucked. It also amazes me that as a red headed mare that she was so symptom free today. I fully expect some behaviors to remain for a while just from memory. I can’t predict the future but I really, really hope this is her fix. “
Her trainer said she had been great in the barn and was very sweet to work with until it came time to put her saddle on. She just put it on her to walk her in hand from the stabling area to where we were set up. As soon as she put the saddle on, Tuscany starting being nippy and grinding her teeth.
We did a complete set of measurements on her and put her old saddle on to assess fit. Amongst other things, it was too long and very tight in her shoulder – both the angle of the tree and with the big vertical panel there is no place for her shoulder muscle to go.
Our biggest challenge was that she has a short saddle support area and she is very sensitive to any saddle at the moment. We looked at 4 saddles that would be potential candidates for her, and ended up rejecting 3 of them because they did not have the appropriate panel for her, or would be too long, or would not work based on our discussions.
Because she is short in her back, where the saddle can reasonably sit for several hours carrying a rider’s weight, she must have a Relief Wedge (RW) or short panel. We put a 17.5” Infinity II saddle on, with a RW and it was the best option that we had available on hand. Because she hasn’t been ridden in a while, and there was a lot going on, we lunged her first, and then her trainer rode her. She was very good, although a little unbalanced and curious about all the activity around her (there were at least 10+ other horses in the ring) but oh my goodness, when she focused, she was beautiful.
Although the Infinity is not the trainer’s favorite saddle model, she agreed it was a good interim saddle for Tuscany. We would not choose this as her “forever” saddle, because as she develops and her shoulders come back, it will place the rider a little too far back.
Working together with our Saddlefit Technician, and the client’s trainer, the saddle of choice for this horse and rider combination was a 17.5” Obrigado, with the short pommel and the forward balance point with a Relief Wedge.
So at the end of the day – happy horse and happy rider! We love to hear from our clients about successes such as these – it makes everything we do so worthwhile!