After grooming, I tacked Val up with a flat pad, and my *extra special* shim arrangement. That would be folded up towel squares. I played with placement, but especially with the girth. The rear billet is a sliding / swing billet. When I tighten the girth, there is more play in the front billet if I adjust them both to the same hole. I'm assuming that the rear billet tightness would be more critical to get right. Tightening the front billet another notch pulls the pommel down. Not good. Val has a big heart girth so his shape is probably playing into it as well. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. :)
With the saddle level and secure, I hopped on for a quick ride. It was so nice. Turns weren't even an issue, Val reached into the bridle immediately and was halting off of a whisper from my seat. We're both comfortable finally. Val is much more responsive and willing now. My position feels natural and easy to keep correct - on my triangle in the deepest part of the saddle with a happy hip angle.
Until riding in this saddle, I didn't even realize how much we had been struggling. Val was very uncomfortable from the points poking into his shoulders when we turned and when I posted. I had trouble relaxing down into my seat and letting my leg hang. I guess I got used to it. Don't think Val did though. Bless his heart.
My saddle fitter pad arrives tomorrow. After today, I'm confident that some slight shimming will do the trick.
All through this process, deep down, I knew something had to be wrong. My limited experience (plus some erroneous feedback) led me to believe that rider error was the main problem. The occasional decent rides I had, where I apparently had found a way to contort myself just right + Val's good nature, confused the issue even more.
I've learned a lot in the past few months. About saddle fit for horse and rider, saddle brands and saddle shopping. And most importantly, about trusting your gut.
|I'm lickin' and I'm likin' ...|
|... now where's my COOKIE!!!|