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:
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!