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!