You know it's going to be a bumpy ride when the saddle fitter looks your horse over and goes 'oh dear, he reminds me of my horse and the reason I became a saddle fitter'. Theo's magnificent shoulders lead to a broader and longer then average wither. Behind those are the dips that were trying to fill in, followed by a back that is completely flat. It never comes back up, which is why a curvy tree rocks on him. Even my magical Passier Precision that fits everything isn't suited to him because the panels lift up in the back. TBs typically have a curve at the back of the saddle, but mi papi takes after the draft side in this area.
He's filled in behind the shoulder since this picture was taken and it's made his back even flatter.
All of this is pretty common fare in the dressage world, so that fitting should be easier. He needs a saddle for a flat backed horse. Done. In the jumping world, however, things are a bit more challenging. This is my shopping list from the saddle fitter as I venture back into the saddle shops to find a better fit.
Can you hear my bank account sobbing? I can.
When's the last time I had a close contact with a 3" rear gusset? Never. All older saddles are out for being too curvy, since TBs were all the rage. French trees are generally out since they're typically curvy. My Wintec is out for being too curvy. She was able to pull some of the wool out where it was over stuffed in the panels at the waist and swapped me to a medium gullet, which improved the balance and significantly improved the weight bearing area on the panels. The panels under the waist were so over stuffed that it was almost like it bridged. All of the weight rested on a thin line rather than the whole panel. It still rocks a bit, but saddle pads have us as close as we're going to get. I'm going to be using the Wintec as a fill in until the new saddle is located, then I'll sell it off to recoop some of my losses. It will fit other horses better now that it's been fixed up.
Fun fact about Wintecs, for anyone considering buying one: Flocked does not mean what you think it means. When the saddle fitter got it open, she found that the flocking was stuffed into little cases that are shaped like CAIR panels. They basically take the same little panels and stuff them with synthetic wool instead of plastic bags of air. The saddle had three separate cases of flocking in each panel, leaving the exact same pressure spot potential as the CAIR system and cancelling out the entire reason I wanted it flocked. It also makes the saddle very difficult to adjust by a saddle fitter. The panels are overstuffed and harder than you would expect. I expect the stiffness is because the flocking is in those little cases and can't shift around like it's supposed to. So not at all pleased to discover that 'flocked' with Wintecs doesn't mean what you think it means. Also, having a saddle fitter adjust your flocked saddle voids your warranty. Fun fun.
After the last grid lesson on Saturday, neither me nor mi papi wants to go back to jumping in the dressage saddle. Trainer A is doing grid work with us where she changes the heights of the verticals with each pass. Theo is having to sit on his butt and focus to make it work when all of a sudden the center vertical goes from 2' to 3' and the distances are short. Staying out of his way while this is going on is a challenge and if we were doing that in a saddle with a high pommel and cantle? I'd probably be straddling an ice pack right now. We're both better off with a saddle that's less than perfect, but at least suited for the job. I still have his dressage saddle that was fitted to him for flat days and I'm hoping to get something more appropriate on him quickly.
Don't tell anyone, but I'm looking at getting a promotion at work. I may be celebrating with a new jump saddle.
Also, quick plug for Kate Howe at Shedrick Saddlery. She was fantastic to work with and very reasonable in what was possible and what she recommended.