Monday, December 29, 2008

The Search for a Saddle

Finding a saddle is one of the more frustrating aspects of owning a horse. Imagine trying to find a comfortable shoe that fits not only your own foot but also the appendage of another species--and you both get to wear the same item simultaneously.

I sold my fancy dressage saddle a few weeks ago. I hated the damn thing and felt entirely liberated when a girlfriend remarked last summer that it put me in a lousy position and didn't fit Beau especially well. It was an expensive used saddle I found for an astonishingly modest price at a tack shop in Middleburg. It never felt good from the start, but I somehow thought that discomfort was just part of the deal with a dressage saddle. That I managed to unload it for far more than I paid offset somewhat the two years of contorted riding I endured in the bloody thing.

That left me with the all-purpose Crosby, a saddle I have loved like no other. It's soft, cushiony and molds nicely to my bottom and Beau's back. The leather cleans up well. The problem is this: everyone else (by which I mean trainers) hates the saddle. Nina Holm, my new trainer (and owner of Glenwood Farm in Harwood, where I now board Beau), grumbled during our second lesson that the saddle, by trying to be a little of everything, ended up being nothing in particular. It doesn't put me in an ideal position for jumping, nor does it allow me the long leg and deep seat necessary for proper flat work. I realized then that she was the latest in a succession of trainers to complain about the Crosby.

I have stubbornly clung to the saddle like a bad drug addiction, knowing full well I should stop but unable to control my need. This time, though, I will truly go cold turkey. I thought about keeping the Crosby for trail riding, but I'm afraid I will fall off the wagon, sneaking rides on it in the arena when no one is looking.

So Friday morning I begin the great saddle search. I have four saddles to try from the Surrey; if they don't pan out, then I will cast a net farther afield, to Middleburg, to Pennsylvania, and, if necessary, to North Carolina. In the meantime, I have attached a picture of the Crosby Soft Ride, soon to be consigned to the tack shop. Sigh.

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