Years ago, I became a member of the “My Saddle Cost More Than My Horse” club. I am currently a member of the “I Have [Many] More Saddles Than Horses” club. And I am about to proudly join the “I Buy a New Saddle Every Four Months” club. At least I hope so, if I can find a new saddle that works.
In the last several years, I’ve sold a Crosby close contact saddle, a Butet Premium close contact saddle, a Jimmy’s 20th Century close contact saddle, an Hermes Steinkraus and a Butet dressage saddle. That’s just for me. For my clients, I’ve sold a County Drespri, a Collegiate close contact, a Beval Natural and an Albion Legend 5000.
I have a brand new Smith-Worthington Brianna advertised for a client. I tried selling my Hennig privately, but there were no takers even after I dropped the price to $3200, so it’s now on consignment with a prominent Hennig dealer. Same with my brown Adam Ellis Brio, which is on consignment somewhere else.
In the interests of full disclosure, I also have a Kieffer Wien up in the attic. It has a broken tree point. It makes no sense to repair it (although it’s old and the leather is really nice) and I won’t sell it to anyone in its current condition. It would be nice on the wall of some restaurant/pub, but I think that there are already plenty of candidates available on ebay. I’m also hanging on to my old Crosby Equilibrium designed by Tad Coffin, which was such a deal I can’t see letting it go.
How many saddles is that? I don’t want to count.
In dressage saddles, I’ve come full circle — from the minimal Butet to the Hennig and back again, to a Niedersuss Symphonie. Now it looks like I’m about to have to go around the circle again. A horse is involved, so it couldn’t be simple. I should have known by now. Thank God it’s only one horse I’m trying to fit, or I’d jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.
If you’ve ever been a member of my saddle clubs (see above) or you think you might be on the way, maybe you’ll enjoy my story (someone should enjoy it because I certainly haven’t). I’ll begin at the beginning…
My new horse came to me a little weedy, with hollows behind the withers and not much of a neck. I could make do with my minimalist Crosby. My Hennig would have worked (I found someone who was ready to adjust the tree and reflock for a mere $800), but I was ready to return to less saddle.
I reached out to a number of fitters. I really wanted to get the right saddle but I also wanted it quickly, so I jumped at the chance to piggyback on a fitter who was going to be in the area. She kindly fit me in, I tried a demo saddle both my horse and I loved, and I waited for my new, beautiful, custom saddle.
It arrived almost two months later and my horse hated it. With a passion. No matter what I did with pads. The sixth time I walked down the aisle towards him carrying the saddle, he saw it coming, pinned his ears and kicked with his left hind leg. Okay, I got the message.
Attempts to rectify the situation came to naught. I won’t go into the details, but I can tell you that I’m loathe to purchase a new, custom saddle ever again.
There we were, girl and horse sans saddle. I’m not too bad at saddle fitting myself, even though I don’t reflock my own. So I looked for saddles on the Internet and found a couple that I thought my horse and I would like. I ran up nearly $4,000 on my plastic while reserving two saddles to try: a Schleese Connexion and a Neidersuss Symphonie (hedging my bets between saddles similar to my Hennig and Butet).
I really like a narrow twist (the reason I regrettably sold my Butet dressage) so I loved the Schleese. But it would need the tree adjusted. Ka-ching, ka-ching. I put the Niedersuss on my horse next, and it was a near-perfect fit. And brown. Two shades of brown, to be exact. Gorgeous on my chestnut horse. A pencil knee roll. Close contact. And the shorter flaps I need. I had the flocking tweaked and we were ready to go. Happy horse and rider.
My horse was developing a topline. He’d always had a strong back, but now he was filling out behind the withers. His neck was arching and looked as if it had grown in length. You could still see his ribs, but only when he turned, or in the sunlight.
And then I broke my back. And my horse was out of work. But at least he was eating. After nearly six months, I was able to start flexions in his stall, and carrot stretches a la Clayton/Stubbs, tail work, and work in hand. After two months of this work, my horse’s topline has radically changed, for the better, yet again. He is now the right weight. His back is not only strong but supple. His withers look like they’ve grown by at least an inch, and the hollows behind them have filled out.
Now his saddle doesn’t fit. The Niedersuss that we both adored perches atop his withers, with a tree that is now too small. A flocking adjustment won’t do it (there’s not much flocking on that saddle to begin with.) So my search begins again.
When they rewrite Homer’s Odyssey for a horsey audience, instead of sailing, he’ll be searching for saddles. Just when he thinks he’s found the right one and the search is behind him…well, you know how the story goes.