A saddle fit check that was money VERY well spent....
As rocky has now been in work a couple of months, I thought it was time to get his current saddle checked for its fit, not that I felt anything was wrong, simply to check that rocky was comfortable in it.
Martin Andrews was my chosen saddler, he is a qualified saddle fitter and a member of the Master Saddlers Association, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience with him.
Martin arrived and after an initial briefing of Rocky and what he is up to etc it was time to saddle up. His current saddle is a super, if old, working hunter, ideal for the straighter shoulders, and has been doing a great job – or so I thought.
I knew this saddle was never going to be his forever saddle, it was bought especially for the initial stages of training, until he has developed sufficiently to buy him a dressage saddle.
What I wasn’t expecting was for Martin to begin walking to his van with my saddle and suddenly turn around to say ..... THE TREE IS BROKEN!!!
Well, the term shell shocked was perhaps how to describe how I felt, ashamed, sad, cruel, all these feelings shot through me at an alarming rate and I stood there looking at Martin, the saddle and Rocky absolutely speechless.
On purchasing the saddle I had done the usual checks, stirrup bars ok, girth straps fine, even the “pull the pommel to cantle to check for a broken tree” check!!! All of which passed with flying colours.
Now whilst in my care, the saddle has never been dropped, handled badly, has been left with rocky to play with (as youngsters do!) or anything that would cause a broken tree, or even a scratch come to that. I am very careful with my tack!
So to hear those words “the tree is broken” was not only a surprise but questionable too.
I couldn’t apologise enough to both Martin and Rocky, but Martin pointed out, I needn’t feel guilty as I didn’t know and only he after unstitching the panels could be 100% sure, as the tree from cantle to pommel was fine, it was just a minute movement between the points of the saddle that raised suspicion.. I should only feel guilty if I knew it was broken and kept using it! Fair point, but oh boy it didn’t make me feel much better.
On examining the saddle, it was the pommel part of the tree, the metal plate, had sheared in half, not an easy task, and definitely nothing I had done, that part made me feel better!
I had luckily another saddle there to try, purely coincidental but very pleased I had it! This one is another 2nd hand one, but has been checked over and over and then over again!! It does fit him too, luckily, so we are not left without a saddle to use.
We spent over an hour and a half ensuring the “new” saddle was the perfect one for him, riding him in the school, making odd adjustments, then riding him again, and so on.
Rocky hasn’t done much recently, purely due to my time constraints, but was as usual unfazed by all the mounting up, dismounting, try this, try that etc... and behaved impeccably.
Baring in mind what pressure that old saddle must have been putting on him, it is a testament to Rocky and his attitude that at no point has he said NO or been awkward to ride, but it does explain a few of his tight spots.
He has an appointment with Lucy Morgans on Tuesday for an equinology session to ensure his body is absolutely fine before embarking on more ridden work, until then he shall be a man of leisure!
I cannot emphasise enough the need to get your saddle checked, by a qualified and recommended one at that. Also the fact that your saddler should see you ride in the saddle, the un-ridden horse can have a saddle fitted which is fine in halt, but then when the back engages, can alter the fit if that saddle dramatically.
I now need to go put some money on the lottery to buy a new, if still 2nd hand, saddle for this special boy. Wish me luck!!
Here are two pictures of the broken tree: