Friday, January 28, 2011

Adventures in Saddle Fitting

We had a busy weekend last week (and this week's been so busy at school that I'm just getting to posting about last weekend!).
Saturday dawned bright and warmish--up to the low forties--and I got a lot of catching up done on chores around the place.
Here, I'm unloading some sections of used telephone poles the power company was selling cheap--I plan to use them to construct a couple of trail obstacles this summer.

Then I got to looking at saddles on-line.You may remember that I sold my big heavy duty Hereford roping saddle last summer for two reasons: first, it was pinching Kate across the withers, and I was starting to see a few white hairs at the top of her shoulders. With further investigation of sweat patterns, it became evident that this was true with Maddie as well--I just couldn't see it on her white shoulders. So I needed a wider tree saddle. Secondly, at close to 40 pounds, the Hereford was getting too darn heavy for me to throw over the girls' backs, especially with my shoulder acting up the last year or so.
I've been trying various light weight trail saddles, including the treeless "Bob Marshall" style, and a Tucker brand "Plantation" endurance model. I researched others, including the Cashel "Trail Blazer", the Circle Y flex-tree "Park and Trail" and a few other more obscure brands. I pretty much decided that Tucker was the way to go for the horse's comfort (and the rider's is a fringe benefit).
I've been watching for Tucker trail saddles on Tack Trader, eBay, and a few other sites, hoping to find one I liked in my price range. The tree size and seat size were "have-to-haves," but I had a few "wants" that made it hard to find the exact saddle I was hoping for. I was about to settle for slight style deficits (I like a more traditional style, and Tucker's newer "golden" leather, plus I'd really like a Cheyenne roll-style cantle), when I got our taxes figured out last week, and we have a bigger refund coming than expected. Plus, we only have three more payments on the tractor.
Lovin' hubby Al suggested that I go ahead and treat myself to new, and order exactly what I wanted. (He said it could be my Christmas/anniversary/birthday present for the next couple of years--I didn't have the heart to remind him that we are still "paying off" the horse trailer for the next several years of celebrations!)
So I called the almost-local dealer, George Michels, of Midee Stitch Saddlery (in Yakima, 50 miles south), and started asking about deposits and time-lines for custom ordered Tuckers and such. He felt strongly that the only way to make sure we were getting the right size tree for the girls was to try the various sizes on them. He also wanted to judge which cinching system would be best, as the "Generation II" Tuckers have a more adjustable rigging than the originals.
Well, since there could be a month's delay from ordering to delivery (depending on choices made) and there was no guarantee that the roads would be as good next weekend, I loaded the girls up, and we were off to the big city!
Both Kate and Maddie loaded and traveled well, and were perfect ladies in the tiny parking lot of the store.
George brought out a couple of different models he had on hand, to show me where the latigo should fall, not too close to the elbow. The older models only have one position, and if it had put the cinch too far forward, he would have recommended the more expensive Gen II models.
But it was fine on both girls, as were the bars of the wide tree.

I was able to sit the 16 1/2 inch seat, but it was clear that the next size up would be more appropriate.
So the saddle was ordered!
A Tucker Cheyenne Springs in golden, like this one, but with border tooling and "trail glide" stirrups.
It should be here in three to four weeks--just about the same time I'm scheduled for gall bladder surgery! But in plenty of time for spring riding.

It's past my bedtime, so I'll save our Sunday adventure for a later post.


  1. How exciting - and a saddle that will fit both girls! My 3 are all different sizes and shapes, and I'm not sure what I'll end up having to do.

  2. That's awesome! I'm so happy for you :) I have a few friends with Tuckers, and they just love them - as long as it fits the horses you ride, you'll be happy with it.

    I have padded stirrups like the Trail-Glides, and I love love love them. But! They are very strange if you ride in cowboy boots. I never got used to riding with them in boots - the heel of the boot tends to hit the extra-wide platform, or something. If you like the padded stirrups but something's not quite right down there, try riding in different shoes.

  3. Kate--Yes, at those prices, I really needed to find something that fit them both! Maddie's withers are a little more pronounced than Kate's, but the Tucker gullet is plenty roomy enough.

    Funder--I don't DO cowboy boots! (aka, pointy-toed shit-kickers). The closest I get is my Ariat paddock boots, which I pass off as "ropers" in my distinctly western oriented neighborhood. (I just add the Classic half chaps for the English saddles.) The other ones I picked up that are really comfortable are my Dublin zip-up ankle-highs, a cross between paddock boots (heel and spur rest) and sneakers (suede and breathable nylon).
    I have been using that type stirrup for a year or so now, on the saddle I borrowed from Pat to use until I found the right one to purchase. I even got the cheapo plastic ones for the Wintec saddle I picked up last fall. They are really nice to ride, giving one's foot a broad, stable "platform" for support. The Tuckers also are slightly "offset" to make the angle of the ankle more ergonomic, so I'm anxious to see how they feel.

  4. A new saddle that FITS = a good thing! hooray!

  5. I'm jealous:) One saddle to fit 2 horses! I can hardly find one saddle to fit one My dang horse has be wierdly shaped...ugh My search continues...

  6. You'll have good motivation for a speedy recovery from your surgery! Love the new 'golden' leather.

  7. Very awesome pieces of poll for obsticles! Good haul on that!

    That was take the horses to town and have them fit!
    NICE that they can both have the same saddle too! Very sweet ride you are getting!
    Gall man had an attack and it was not pretty.He suffered for years. Now it's gone, he feels soo mcuh better.
    I am glad you are getting that taken care of before it shuts down with stones!

    I'm still saving for my saddle...but it'll take me some time for the one I really want so I am buying one for the interum. I miss stirrups, but have become infactuated with bareback(have two bareback pad saddles) riding again.

    I'm going the treeless route. Found a saddle made for a horse with Withers and a rider that may want to(me)jump! "Action Rider Tack" has it and it has room for withers, girthing differances, stirrup palcements and seats, I choose. It's called "Freeform saddles".

    I do love a broader platform for stirrups too...for the longer trails rides , my feet used to burn at the balls. I got endurance stirrups that fit English leathers.

    You should be back up and ready to ride (on that gorgeous new saddle)not too long after the surgery. The non evasive way they do it nhow...very good!