No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.Winston Churchill
I thought this was a fitting quote, by our Winston’s namesake! This week I took a big (feels huge!) step and invested in my very own saddle for Winston. After looking for a saddle to fit this short backed, stocky, basically what one might call “mutton withered” horse – I found a short, round-skirted saddle by Circle Y called the Omaha, at my local Tack Shop, and it was not only the right size for Winston, but the right seat size for me as well. When I brought the saddle home I threw it over a chair in the dining room to take some photos – and one of my cats, Lynx, couldn’t help but hop up to investigate. Since I had not at this point even tried it on Winston, I decided I had better keep the saddle in my room with the door closed to prevent the cats and dog from damaging it, should it not fit and need to be returned.
I was so excited, later that day I drove over to the farm and had some help from Barb placing it on Winston’s back for the first time and checking for fit. After trying it with and without the wool pad, we decided we had better have Barb’s daughter Jenny double check the saddle as well – she is a very experienced horsewoman and she would be down on the weekend.
Well, today was the day, we all did a double check, and even added the cinch and tied the latigo – it looked great! And…we decided that since it is quite the investment, to be extra sure I’ll pick up a Haflinger saddle to try as well – as Haflinger horse, (a breed – from Austria and Northern Italy) have a similar barrel style that Winston has, being wide and round. That’s going to take a few days as I’ll have to go back to the store and they aren’t open on Sundays, then Jenny won’t be in town again until next weekend.
I have learned A LOT about saddles and their fit, something that when taking lessons last year, and going on trail rides I had never thought too much about because the lesson barn had already done the fitting. I’ve learned a lot about the parts of the saddle, the withers on horses and how to measure for a saddle, and the make/model/quality of the various types of build. I love and am drawn to fancy looking saddles, and, what really matters in saddle is fit and comfort for the horse and rider – so I’ve put any of my “look” preferences aside, so that I can make sure my choice is one that will support Winston and I in our riding relationship, and both of our physical wellbeing. Being an older rider, I noticed even when at the store and sitting in different saddles that there are some that are not too comfortable, but may have been at one point when I was younger. And since one doesn’t age backward, and the plan is to hang onto this saddle for years…putting the extra time and effort, and having patience will help both of us continue riding for years to come.