We went for a little ride in my friend's arena yesterday but couldn't do too much as it was still frozen and snowy so we just walked around so I could practise my position and my shoulder roll exercises on my left shoulder that Sue Carr gave to me when I had the mini side saddle lesson on the horse simulator last month.
My right leg is getting stronger against the saddle and it's really helping us with the bends and stopping Hattie from drifting so much.
One thing I did notice during the past few days when I've ridden, is that it's getting harder to feel my right seat bone on the saddle. I can only feel the left one mostly which is not good as you don't want all your weight dumping to the left. It feels as if I kept having to reach with my butt cheek to keep it to the saddle which doesn't help much with your position!
I took some before and after photos of the saddle on Hattie to check how it's sitting before I ride and after about 30 minutes of riding.
Before, the saddle is sitting pretty level front to back from the nearside:
After, the flacking has packed down so it's not sitting as high off of her back but still looks level front to back:
Before, the saddle clears her withers but I have to use the sheepskin under her withers as it needs reflocking at the front to keep it up:
After, the saddle has settled but the sheepskin keeps it from dropping onto her withers:
Before, saddle is pretty level on the off-side from front to back:
After, the saddle has slid forwards slightly which is due to Hattie's conformation and due to the fact the flocking has packed down at the front (and the sheepskin is a bit slippery). Once I get the front flocked up, it will stay put. Even so, it's not nearly as bad as my old saddle was at sliding forward!
Before, the saddle isn't so tilted due to the weight of me riding in it but it's now shifted towards the right slightly onto her spine due to the flocking being packed down under my right thigh:
After, the saddle isn't as tilted due to the weight of me riding in it but it has shifted over slightly to the right. It is resting ever so slightly onto the left side of her spine due to the flocking being too packed down on the right side underneath my right thigh. Because there is nothing supporting the saddle on the left side, it is causing my loss of contact with my right seat bone and causing the saddle to drop down to the right and shift over Hattie's spine:
When I got home, as a temporary fix until I can get a side saddler out to re-balance my saddle, I put some of that foam mesh grip stuff between the saddle and the right panel to pad it out a bit. I can feel where it needs the flocking when I ride in it so I put some underneath the middle of my right thigh.
My saddle needs ALOT of flocking added to it and needs complete re-balancing. I think that I'm going to need someone like Laura Dempsey come out and do it as I want to make sure it's done right. It rained last night and melted all the snow and judging from the weather forecast, it's starting to get a bit mild so I may have to bite the bullet and get Laura to come out and do my saddle while the outdoor arena is thawed out.
Hattie won't do something unless it's 100% perfect and if my saddle is shifting over onto her spine, that can't be comfy which may explain her begrudging shuffle canters.
I rode today for 30 minutes in the arena as the rain thawed it out and the saddle did feel better with the extra padding I added under the right side last night. I could feel my right seat bone again and Hattie's 10 metre circles were better so saddle balance does make a difference!