I know, lame.
Yesterday I got to go visit Pelham Saddlery. This place is nirvana for riders, I swear. Rooms of nothing but saddles. This is half of the dressage room.
Seriously, there's another side to that, it's the center rack, and more behind me. Hundreds of new and used saddles stacked up, just waiting for me to find a treasure. It's actually pretty overwhelming. I always end up standing in the middle of the room like a deer in headlights until someone takes pity on me and helps me out. Fortunately, the staff is absolutely awesome. I tell them what I know, show some pics of Theo, and off we go. I sat in Albions, Trilogys, Ideals, Kieffers, and I don't even know what else. They sent me out the door with three saddles on trial.
#1 Frank Baines Capriole, an older style. It was well below my budget and looked, on paper, like a perfect match. Alas, lack of front gussets had this one out of contention as soon as it touched Theo's back. Too bad, it was way more affordable and it actually fit me well. Such is my life.
#2 Adam Ellis Brio. OMG this saddle is gorgeous.
I don't want a brown saddle since I already have black tack, but the leather is so nice and it fit my butt wonderfully. It has the big gussets front and back, flat tree, and everything I'm looking for. Unfortuantely, it was a bit tight over the withers, he probably needs a MW instead of a M.
It was close. So close. If someone with a flat backed horse needs a dressage saddle, consider the Adam Ellis. Trainer A commented on how beautiful it was and the saddles that came afterward suffered by being compared to it. It was also the most expensive, so I thought for sure it would fit. No dice.
#3 Frank Baines Reflex Deluxe. This is the exact tree of his current dressage saddle, just with some upgrades and a bigger seat.
So yes, it fits him. The front gussets are currently the size of pillows, but so soft they just wrap around him. He moved very nicely in this. My saddle fitter will probably poke and rearrange, but it was clearly reflocked recently because it's very squishy.
The leather upgrade appears to be buffalo and it has the big velcro blocks and the front gussets are an upgrade. So overall, a superior model to his current saddle that also fits my keister. Trainer A was quite pleased with my position in this. I have to push my leg forward now after fighting to keep it back in the jumping saddle, but that's actually a nice problem to have. I remember to put my heels down and end up right at 45 degrees. It's also a mono flap which is nice for my stumpy legs, I can feel Theo, though it's still a shock every time I lift the panel while tacking.
So this one looks like a winner. I've got it on trial for a week so I can poke around and Trainer A can ride in it. Theo's first training ride is Friday. She said she was happy to see me in dressage tack again and I was happy to be in it. Sitting trot in a real dressage saddle is a different business. But that's 2 for 2 for Pelham. I'll be eating ramen yet again for this since it was right at the top of my budget, but well worth it to have a dressage saddle of my own.
Ramen comes in a lot of flavors, you know. I'm getting familiar with all of them. At least I don't need a new dressage bridle in brown, I wouldn't even be able to dress the ramen up.