Monday, June 1, 2009

Lesson 2 - Lesson Learned!

What a disaster! Trying to correct all the tack issues from my first lesson, I first made a new stirrup leather, one that gave me the option to lengthen it and that made a huge difference in a good way. The other thing we did was to put a wedge pad under the saddle to raise up the back. Since Chastain's back is dipped a bit, the saddle was sitting a bit uphill. For some reason this pad caused the saddle to roll and shift and every 5-10 strides, I had to stop so we could readjust. So much time was spent trying to make it work, even to the point of delaying my instructor's other clients that our lesson had to come to an end with the conclusion that uphill and steady is better than flat and rolling! UGGGHHHHH!

I had so much confidence after my first lesson and now I feel nervous again! Please feel free to offer any suggestions!


Hosanna said...

Can you try another riser pad? what about a "lollipop" riser? I have a pad I got at a consignment sale that had vlecro straps that attach together under the saddle skirt so it doesn't shift.I don't know if something like that would work on a sidesaddle. Sorry you had a cruddy time.......

sunvalleysally said...

Hi, Julie. You might want to try the following if your saddle has a linen underside. If it does, turn the saddle upside down and make a study and a "fixer" as follows.

If your saddle has a leather underside, I regret to inform you that you'd better commit a month's paycheck to restuffing a leather underside. That's because the leather will most likely need replacing instead of just re-stitching once the stuffing is replaced.

But carrying on as though you have a fabric (usually linen) underside to your saddle:

First - inspect the packing in the linen underside and make sure it is full, firm and has slightly more volume to the left panel than the right (esp. beginning SS riders ride "heavy" on the left til you get your "seat").

If the stuffing in the panel is thin or lacking in volume, that means you need to re-stuff your linen panels. You should have someone show you how to do this or send it out to a sidesaddle repair person (not a normal tack repair person unless they have a good familiarity with sidesaddles).

But in the meantime, go get some 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch thick felt - you might have to go to a surgical wool or surgical cotton felt from an orthotics supply house or medical supplier or a specialty fabric place that has this type of thing - not the skinny sheets of felt like you would use for craft projects but a big ol' Texas-size hunk of thick felt. Measure and cut a length of felt - measure between about where you estimate the back part of your horse's large shoulder muscle is before it gets to his back, and keep going to where you think his back rises up to the loin area. (The "shim" will be put in that area where your saddle doesn't have enough to fill in where his back dips. Keep reading...)

So - again look at the underside of the saddle closely. In between the linen panel and the leather you can insert the "shim" of felt. Using sharp scissors, cut a "bevel" on both the leading and back edges of the shim to make it comfortable for the horse (no abrupt edges). The linen panel holds the shim in place - don't glue it down, you might have to replace or remove it later. You can then set the saddle back on the horse and check for gapping.

It is possible you will need the shim only on the left side but if your saddle's underside is really thin, you might need the thicker shim on the left and a thinner one on the right. Always remember that you need more support under your left side (assuming you aren't riding an offside sidesaddle).

Note that lollipop pads aren't really useful for this - the padding crushes too easily. They work well in a cross saddle where you are showing a hunter/jumper and riding two-point a lot but have to be replaced often, as the foam just crushes to zero thickness in short order and is thereby rendered sort of useless for its intended purpose. What you need from any shock absorbing and fit enhancing pad is closed cell foam.

Again I would urge you to contact the Cashel people. They have available a sidesaddle pad which is thicker at the back and thicker on the left and beautifully beveled so as not to cause the horse any discomfort.

I had a lovely little (Arab) show horse with a deeply swayed back, typical of his particular bloodlines(Fadjur, if you know Arabs at all) I showed him western sidesaddle as well as English sidesaddle - and how the western sidesaddle was modified to fit his swayback is another story for another day. I feel I am hijacking your thread a bit and won't want to go on too much further on my own stuff.

Please don't hesitate to PM me for more details on the Art and Practice of Sidesaddle Stuffing. I humbly give credit to Miss Sue Gregg of New England Aside because she is the past and present expert on sidesaddle fitting and all my know-how came from Sue and also from Marti Friddle of Hundred Oaks. The fitting things I did worked well on my own horses and on my students' horses -- you should have seen the collection of goodies for fixing and enhancing the saddles that we carted around to clinics and shows!

Sydney said...

I agree on the re-stuffing. Any old saddle is worth re-stuffing for a new horse.
I still have that riser pad here. I can take pictures if you want. You are free to have it. Stop by my blog and leave me a message if you are interested. Just consider yourself part of the pay it forward post ;)

Sydney said...

I forgot to add: the pad is closed cell foam and is very durable.

sidesaddle rider said...

Well Julie, looks like it's time for you to receive another package. I have just the thing for you.