I gave my shopping guide a copy of my saddle fitter notes and we set to work. Adam Ellis was a new name for me and the saddle I tried was close, but the mono flap look is still not something I'm used to in a jumping saddle. The knee rolls also seemed a bit close for me, which is very bizarre when I'm so short. I also sat in an Albion Kontrol and generally liked it, but the cantle was high and made me feel a bit trapped. The Bates Elevation felt nice, but I still don't trust the CAIR panels. How do I get that adjusted for my asymmetrical pony?
The winner was a Frank Baines Evolution. The Evolution is the flatest of the Baines trees. That, combined with big ol' rear gussets, long front gussets, and a seat that makes me feel like I'm sitting on a cloud, sold me. Theo's dressage saddle that works well for him is a Baines Reflex dressage saddle, so he likes their saddles. Alas, it meant I needed a new saddle and not a used saddle. Don't ask what the price tag said, I might cry a little. But damn, butt candy!
I zipped over to the barn even though it wasn't one of my days to ride to pop it on mi papi and take a look.
Of course it looks fantastic on him. He's got expensive tastes. The only thing under it is the baby pad I used to keep dirt off of the demo saddle. Yeah, it sits like that with zip zero nada underneath it. The panels are deep enough at the shoulder to fill in those dips. It doesn't bridge. When I saw the spendy saddle on him, I checked for straggling summer campers before cursing like a badly wounded sailor that just found out his life partner is leaving him for his parrot. Why does it fit so nicely out of the box?!
Clearly I'm a masochist, because I got out the girth and wrapped the stirrup leathers so I could take it for a spin. Love it. Freaking love it. Theo has plenty of room in the shoulders, not rocking or rolling, and my butt was in heaven. Only amongst riders can I say that without getting a lot of weird looks. I showed Trainer A my choice and she said 'it's a pillow for your a$$'. That's pretty much it. Mi papi tracked up nicely and used his open canter stride, so he seemed to approve. I popped over some fences and was pleased with how it held my position, considering I was fighting with stirrups that had standing wraps wound around them. Having a solid inch barrier between your leg and your flap is a bit of a problem.
Oh, and I was dressed for the office. I was wearing dark slacks and a white shell blouse. This wasn't a planned ride and I was lucky that my field boots were in my car, since I was wearing ballet flats. I got a lot of double takes.
Now the question is whether I just keep this saddle or if I return the demo and order up my very own version. In my dreams, I get this saddle in the darker havana color with the piping on the seat in royal blue (it's in red on the demo). I'd also get the blocks with velcro so they're adjustable and I think I might get the short flap. The price is the same, they don't charge for the custom options. But this saddle is really, really close. It hasn't been oiled and I rather liked this color on my dappled bay partner. The rolls were there when I needed them over the scary panel jump and I don't look like a pony clubber. I'll let Trainer A vote in my lesson on Saturday. Resale value for a regular flap is better, so I'm leaning toward keeping the regular flap so long as it's not an issue for my position. Also, a custom model wouldn't be in my hands until August. That's a long time to improvise.
I'll do my jumping lesson with it on Saturday and let Trainer A have the final say. As of tonight? I kind of love it. It was amazing to get on without any fear of the saddle rocking and rolling. Speaking of rock and roll . . .
80's super star
I hear from other riders that mi papi is still a bit of a puke with them, but I'm not sure if that's back sore due to rotating saddles or just him getting away with being a bully. Six of one, half dozen of the other? Either way, this looks like a really good first ride and I'm optimistic. Update coming on Saturday, hoping we have a saddle!