In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.

Saddle Switching

It’s time.  My favorite saddle ever, the Stonewall I’ve been riding in since it arrived just before Christmas in 2008, is about to be replaced.  You longtime readers will recall that it was custom-fitted for Aaruba, who was my primary endurance prospect at the time.  We couldn’t have known that he’d retire only a year later, at the grand old age of seven, because of unspecified, severe gut health issues unrelated to endurance.

I switched my focus to Consolation, crossing my fingers that Aaruba’s saddle would fit.  At first, it seemed to work all right on her young back.  She wasn’t quite as wide as Aaruba, but we managed.  Until this year.  At nine, Consolation’s back has matured significantly from two years ago.  The saddle fit — never perfect for her — became more of a problem.  Nobody was ever able to identify any back pain when checking her, but it’s possible that some of her attitude issues were related to discomfort.  A lovely, thick latch weave pad made a big difference, but there’s just not substitute for proper fit.

And so, just after the last ride of the season, Jackie Fenaroli asked me to mail the saddle and pad back to Stonewall.  She evaluated the wear patterns, compared Consolation’s measurements to those taken several years ago, and determined that it’s time to start from scratch.  She’s going to build a saddle made for my little Barb horses!

Step one in building a custom Stonewall is to get a good sense of the horse’s back.  To this end, Jackie mailed me a set of the cards they use for getting accurate measurements of horses all over the country.  They measure the width of the horse at three points (A – behind shoulder blade; B – lowest point of back; C – loin), as well as rock (the amount of curve from front to rear).

I measured Consolation, Acey, CJ, and Ripple:

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I can’t help marveling at how well Consolation performed this season, despite wearing Aaruba’s saddle.  What could she have accomplished if she were properly fitted and completely comfortable?  Looks like we’ll soon find out!


4 responses

  1. sj

    Seems like the trouble with saddles is the bars. I wonder whether a “soft” saddle, “treeless” might work. Ridden in a few. One I liked best was the Ansur, but it’s pricey.
    And nothing beats bareback. 🙂
    Got to say though, of all the rigid treed saddles out there, I sure like the design of the Stonewall best. And they sound like good people, too.


    December 4, 2011 at 8:28 am

    • Very good people, indeed. I think the trouble is not with the existence of bars, but with having the wrong tree width for the horse. I’ve investigated the treeless concept some, and tend to come down on the side that isn’t not ideal for endurance because it fails to spread the rider’s weight over a sufficient portion of the horse’s back. I’ve also heard that you don’t have the option of riding with a relatively loose cinch.

      December 4, 2011 at 8:50 am

  2. Rosanne

    How exciting! I’m sure Consolation will enjoy having a saddle made just for her. 🙂 Will it fit your other horses? I have never ridden a Stonewll…but good friend of mine has had one for years and swears by them! How are your new horse pens coming along?

    December 4, 2011 at 9:49 am

    • You’ve put your finger on the challenge, Rosanne! The other horses are younger and don’t have as much rock as Consolation, so Jackie (Stonewall owner) is working on figuring out the best way to deal with that. As for the new pens, their construction has been slowed by other obligations, but the shelter is done and the fence wire is going up! Hooray!

      December 10, 2011 at 8:43 am

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