A few weeks ago, Tesla told me her saddle wasn't fitting too well, so I did some homework, and found a local fitter who also happened to be a distributor for the Sommer brand (win, win!)
I took a half-day off work, and met Kristen from Saddlery Solutions up at the barn. She was super right on time, and I already had Tess out, groomed and ready to roll. She gave me a ton of info about what she would be doing and why: I tried my best to remember it all!!
First, she took some basic measurements on Tesla, asked age, level of work, etc. Everything looked pretty normal - no glaring red flags.
Then she took a look at my saddle - a 1994 model that sure doesn't show it's age! She said she could see how this was a good fit for Tesla 6 months ago - but how the changes in Tess' topline now made it a pretty poor fit.
She began by walking me through the 5 Commandments of saddle fit.
1) The Trapezus : any pressure here will cause the horse to lower its back and throw its head up - Tesla had a bit of a reaction here, telling her the saddle wasn't fitting great in this area (I also knew this from running my hands under the saddle and feeling the points - ouch!) 80% of saddle fit problems are in this area.
2) The Shoulder: Tesla has big shoulders, and Kristen found her shoulder line by lifting and flexing her front leg. She needs to be able to rotate them and for them to be able to slide under the saddle.
3) The Lower Back - the saddle needs to not put pressure here - there are none of the muscles (like over the ribs) to carry the weight here: it all goes directly on the spine.
4) The Spine: Tesla needs a wide channel as her spine width is quite large.
5) The billet points : Tesla is WIDE - but narrows down towards her girth groove - a shaped girth will help keep the saddle from slipping forward. She is in a 28 now, but I should look forward to bumping up to a 30 in the not so distant future....
All five of these outline the Real Estate - where the panels need to contact: Tesla has a curvy short back which makes bridging a concern.
|Who you calling hefty?|
Tesla was perfect for her fitting - Kristen squared her up and she didn't move a muscle "She could be a model horse!" She brought out a demo Sommer (brown, drool) and showed me what features were well suited to Tesla's conformation: wide channel, more shoulder room, forward billets.
Kristen brought all her gear with her and like 20 minutes later she put the saddle on Tesla and it fit like a GLOVE. She had me sit in it too - to make sure it was level and balanced to my bum - it felt 100% better, like I'd gotten a brand-spankin' new saddle.
|Level seat and better fit <3|
The nitty gritty: I can prolly milk this saddle along for a year or two before her back changes so completely the panel shape and width isn't a good match (read: start squirreling away pennies!) I'll probably need a re-adjustment in 6 months or so, especially if we up her work load.
I would highly recommend Kristen - she was great about answering all my questions, and educating me as she went along, and super good with Tess. I could see and feel a vast improvement in the saddle fit - and she even went the extra mile to fasten down one of the name plates under the flap that had come loose and had a little raggedy edge that was only a matter of time before I caught my finger on it.
Can't wait to take it on a ride this week :D