Friday, 28 January 2011

Should I Admit Defeat?

Hattie and I schooled this afternoon but I think I may have to admit defeat with my saddle. I think the tree is too big for Hattie and I don't find a perfectly flat Owen style seat comfortable.

After riding in my off-side side saddle the other day with it's dished seat and remembering how comfy the dished seat of my old C&W was, I think I'm a dished seated lady rather than an Owen lady. Maybe flat seated saddles don't suit my conformation. My legs aren't fat but they do have curves them, maybe a dished seat allows some place for the "flesh" to go. Flat seated Owen side saddles may suit ladies with straighter shaped legs? More toned bottoms than mine maybe??

I don't know but all I know is I like a bit of a curve to my seat.

I also had a look at the tree and what it was doing after I tacked her up and tightened her girth and even with the girth being tight and a shim on the off-side wither, I could get my hand easily in between the near-side tree point and Hattie and slide it down. After I rode, I had a look and the long nearside point was digging into Hattie's side from the saddle being tilted to the left and the gap was still there too.

When I went to the Nationals and spoke with Laura Dempsey about a wide fit saddle she had for sale there that would have fit me and had good billet strap placement for Hattie, she said that no matter how much flocking you put in, if the saddle is too wide, it will always roll to the left.

With Lili saying that it looked over-stuffed, the fact I can get my hand easily into a gap on the nearside and with all the flocking put in, it occurred to me that what if it's just simply too big for Hattie?

We only schooled for 30 minutes and the whole time I was battling the saddle. I kept having to grab the fixed head when I was riding and hoik it over to the right. Despite the saddle literally starting to turn into a "side" saddle, we did some good work between the saddle slipping and hoiking, with Hattie working with a nice elastic contact. Towards the end when the saddle refused to go to the right anymore, she started to get inverted and hollow (I guess she was getting fed up with the saddle as was I) but in a final effort to end on a good note, we did two last walk/trot transitions on both reins.

Instead of our usual abrupt ones, I remembered to start preparing and half halt but keep the energy up, and Hattie went from a nice forward trot into a nice smooth and forward walk without effort. It felt so nice and flowing! I'm really pleased with how we nailed those transitions!!

It was annoying as we were starting to get into our groove and I wanted to practise everything Lili taught me but thought it best to end on a good note and I don't want Hattie getting sour from getting rubbed by a too big saddle.

I can't fault my Manorgrove in workmanship, materials, quality and beauty but I don't know if it's the right saddle for Hattie and I.

I'm having my regular saddler come out on Thursday to see what he says and if he says it's too big for Hattie then maybe I will have to start looking for another saddle again...sigh...

For all you fashion history lovers out there, here is a trade card in my collection from a c. 1878 Paris shop showing "Then and Now" views of riding habits. Compare the c. 1778 one with the c. 1878! Too bad I don't have a photo of a habit made in 1978 to add into the mix!


  1. I would be interested to hear what your saddler has to say. My heart sunk when I read what Laura said, as my biggest fear is that my sidesaddle is too wide for Molly as there is nothing I can do about it :(
    Can you continue riding & schooling in your offside? I hope you will still go to your competition on the 20th? I've got one on the same day and I thought we could compare notes afterwards :)

  2. That's really the pits. My fingers are crossed that perhaps it's just a bit overstuffed and something can be done. Perhaps Manorgrove will help you out in some way considering it was pretty much a custom saddle fitted to you and Hattie. It *should* fit.
    If your offisde works, why not just continue to ride in that?

  3. The problem with my off-side saddle is that it needs a bit of work doing to it before I can ride "hard" in it. The girth straps need replacing and because it's stuffed with felt, I don't know how the saddler is going to be able to adjust the fit without taking it back to the shop and putting more felt in it. It has leather panels so I don't know if he will be able to do all the adjusting on the day or if he will have to take it back to the shop to finish.

    I know he will have to take it away to put new girth straps on but I don't know about any other work that needs doing to it. Meanwhile, if that is gone, I won't be able to practise in it.

    I don't know if taking out flocking out of the Manorgrove panels will make it fit better somehow as I needed all the flocking at the front to stop it from dropping down onto her withers. If the flocking is taken out, then it won't be so rolly but it will come down onto her front.

    I'm going to put my sheepskin girth cover back underneath the front of the saddle like I did before and see if that will hold it ok until the saddler can come and see what's up with it.

  4. Double check what sort of flocking it's been altered with. If the saddler is using the same synthetic flocking that Equxtra uses in new construction it won't hold up. When I had mine reflocked with real wool it made all the difference in the world.
    But if a saddle doesn't fit, it doesn't fit. I would think you could make back most of your money if you're forced to sell.

  5. I will, I'll ask Roger when he comes on Thursday. If Roger can't make something fit, no one can so at least as an independant saddler, he'll be unbiased when it comes to seeing if it's the correct size for Hattie.

  6. One more piece of advice...use a different saddle for at least a week, preferrably longer, then return to the MG and re-assess.

  7. I only have my off-side and I was going to use it tomorrow with my side saddle riser pad that came back to me. The annoying thing about that saddle is that it has one of those old fashioned overgirths, the kind that you needed a groom to do up! Trouble is, I'm often by myself when I school. That is one of the things that I'm going to have Roger change on it, put a convenience hook onto it.

  8. Looking at pics of the Manorgrove on Hattie, it seems hugely over stuffed to me. You must feel like you are perched on a one-legged ladder in a windstorm on it. If the saddler says it's not the right size I would certainly be contacting the manufacturer and making them make good on it, as it was SUPPOSED to be fitted to your horse. No matter how much you pad up a saddle, if the tree itself does not fit, it will never fit properly or be secure. It is a shame, it is a nice looking saddle on their site, but I think I would like a more close contact one like your old one.

  9. I hope I haven't infected the internet sidesaddle world with my fitting woes. What scaequestrian said about it looking overstuffed is the same impression I get. Of course, I know virtually nothing about sidesaddles. But I can't imagine how it must feel to ride saddles that put you so far above the horse.

    Don't be discouraged. It's winter. Perfect time to work these things out.

  10. I do feel a bit wobbly on it but not too bad. I do feel more secure on my flatter off-side saddle though.

    Even if it turns out to be too big for Hattie, there isn't anything the manufacturer can do apart from making me a whole new saddle. Hattie may have just changed shape since she was measured as we have been riding more and she's become more trimmer and in shape. It may be one of those things. :(