I have known for a while now that I’m fighting the fit of my dressage saddle. It constantly throws me forward, I can’t find the right spot for my stirrups, and the seat is a wider twist than I like. All of these make it difficult for me to ride correctly.
When it throws me forward, I’m constantly trying to shuffle my body backwards. By the time I do a downwards transition I’m practically sitting on Dawns withers. It could possibly be why were having such rough downwards transitions.
Add into that, for me to feel secure I have my stirrups at a hole that puts my knee over the roll. I can lower my stirrups so my knees sit where they’re supposed to, but then I find it easier to be tipped forward and my legs go back to balance. The number one comment I seem to keep getting is to push my legs closer to the girth. I can do that, but then I constantly have to readjust my leg and seat.
Also being so unbalanced leads to me looking for support with my hand- huge problem. It’s hard to develop an independent seat when you can’t balance in your saddle!
The seats wide twist makes it difficult to use my thighs in the half halt. I seem to half halt off my knees because when I squeeze with my thighs it propels my butt upwards.
So I think I have done a great job riding in spite of the saddle working against me. It’s not ideal, but a saddle is a saddle I suppose.
The day after the dressage show I ended up at the tack store. I went with my mom to buy her blundstones for her Ireland trip, and took a browse through the used saddles. I saw a used passier and decided to sit in it. I love passier saddles, they just seem to put me in the right position. My jump saddle is an old school passier military monoflap and I love it.
The dressage saddle I found is the same tree as my jump saddle, has a nice block, and when I sat in it at the store it felt really good. So I took it out on trial.
I rode in it Monday, and wow what a difference. Dawn was even more forward, I could ride better because I was in the right spot, and I was able to keep my leg at the girth. I really like it! I have a message into my saddle fitter about some cosmetic issues I’m concerned about, but if that comes back ok I think I’ll jump on it. It is a great price and fits Dawn so well already.
Then as it is with horses, she lost a shoe and it took forever to get it back on. Thankfully the tack store has agreed to give me another week to trial it so I can have a lesson and see what my coach thinks as well. So now I have only had 2 rides in it, and I feel positive about both so far.
The other change I have recently made is switching to a micklem bridle. I trialed one before the show and she felt more consistent in it. At the show I rode in my regular flash bridle and we had some connection issues. She just seems happier and more comfortable in the micklem.
Luckily, I have a friend who is loaning me hers for the summer, so I don’t have to rush out to get one!
So now I have my neue schule bit, my micklem, and possibly a new to me dressage saddle- hopefully all positive changes to increase Dawn and I’s happiness!