To Saddle Fit Or Not To Saddle Fit, That Is The Question…

So there is a note on the board at my trainers barn that Jochen Schleese is coming to the barn March 30th to do a saddle fitting. He was just there last month. I didn’t sign up for it last month because there is no way I am paying to get my saddle fit for a horse I am only riding in lessons. That would be stupid right? The thing is, I am torn as to whether it is going to be a stupid thing to do in March.

I plan on starting to lease the School Master again in March. I am feeling more like my old self these days. I am starting to think about showing. I got that exited feeling when I woke up on Saturday morning, you know, the “I am going to do something I love” feeling that makes you jump out of bed. I haven’t had that since my first year with Phoenix. If it happens again next week I am really getting back to being me. Even my trainer noticed the difference in my lesson. I didn’t look down at my watch once, ask for a break, or even start talking about non-horsey stuff. I was focused from the moment I got on all the way through my lesson, which turned out to be an hour and 20 minutes long.

The more I think about it the more I am thinking that the School Master is going to be a longer term solution for me. I had thought I would ride him for a few weeks after Phoenix and something else would come along because that was how things always worked in the past. It has already been over 6 months and I am starting to think that maybe this is the only level of commitment of a second horse that I want right now. I mean, I could ride him for years and keep learning and even with paying for the quarter lease he is not breaking the bank at this point. I still think I would like a second one of my own at some point, but in the same breath the School Master is a really great option. He just fits in with my life right now.

So now for the good old pro and con list

Pros about getting my saddle adjusted…

1) I love my saddle and I know that while it is an okay fit for the School Master, it is not a perfect fit. Phoenix had a bulging left side so I know it was adjusted to not be even.

2) A horse will always go better when tack fits them properly and they are comfortable.

3) They are coming right to my trainers barn. Can you get more convenient than that?

4) I learned a lot last time Jochen Schleese adjusted my saddle so from an educational standpoint it is a good opportunity.

Cons about getting my saddle adjusted…

1) They are coming on a weekday. I would have to work unless they came at night. I NEVER take off work so that is a big con to me.

2) I am paying to get my saddle fit to a horse that is not my own.

3) I tend not to have good luck with saddle fitting so that just always is a little worrisome.

4) It is most likely going to be a few hundred dollars to get the adjustments done to my saddle.

5) Do I really need a saddle to fit perfectly? I mean, it is not like I am going Grand Prix or anything. Heck, I will only be riding 2 days a week.

Okay, what are your thoughts?


9 thoughts on “To Saddle Fit Or Not To Saddle Fit, That Is The Question…

  1. #5 con and #2 pro – Yes it matters. Regardless of whether you are doing GP or TL. You may not be running a marathon but walking through the halls at work still hurts with a pebble in your shoe. Maybe that’s why he gets spooky????

    #1pro and #2con – The way your saddle was fit for the bulging left side of Pheonix is not good for any horse. You get it fitted to the Schoolmaster, it may fit a lot more horses, so you wouldn’t have to get it adjusted for a very long time, even if you got a new horse.

    #4con – see #1 above. In the long run, it may actually save you money.

    #3con is silly because of #4pro – Even though Pheonix was not behaving himself, you learned a lot, not just about saddle fitting, but about the horse you were riding.

    Bottom line: if you are going to lease the schoolmaster AND use your own saddle, you have to get it done. If you are using the schoolmaster’s saddle, don’t worry about it yet.

  2. I would think that if you are going to be riding the school master for any length of time in lessons and showing you should have it fitted to him. It’s well worth it to make the horse comfortable and yourself as well.

  3. I’m going to be odd man out here. I would ONLY get the saddle adjusted if it is BOTHERING the horse. I’m of the mindset that you shouldn’t fix it if it’s not broken.

    Ozzy goes in a saddle that doesn’t fit him quite right. I monitor it, but he passes all his vet checks with A’s for back soreness and both the chiropractor and masseuse said he had ZERO pain in his back. At one point, I had the opportunity to buy a saddle that fit him ‘better’ (as far as text book fit goes). I rode him in it for a week, but on the first longer trail ride, his gaits felt off. I dismounted and he just about sat down when I palpated his back.

    A woman who adopted from us had a similar story. She had a saddle that didn’t fit terribly well. It was ok with proper padding, but it was definitely not where it should be. She went through some really big name saddle fitters and had all sorts of specialists come out. She did eventually get a saddle that fit her and the horse well, but it cost her thousands and was more trouble than it was worth. In the mean time, her horse got ulcers from the stress of all the changes. I wish I was making that up.

    If this was your horse and you had the opportunity, I’d say go for it. If it was bothering the School Master and affecting your rides in any way, I’d say do it. As it stands, I wouldn’t change anything unless his owner wants to split costs with you. (Yeah, I’m THAT person).

  4. I think I’d be really hesitating too but as tryingtoride said, if you have it fit to the SM, it might be a more “standard” fit for other horses too since he might be more typically backed.

    Unrelated but fun news – I think my daughter is going to give dressage a big try after this show season. It should be a really interesting change after showing all around in APHA for the past few years!

  5. One of the many reasons I purchased a Schleese is the adjustability of the saddle. I had a saddle that really bugged my horse, I did the research and contacted Schleese. I also spent a lot time reviewing the Schlesse online videos.I think the fact that Jochen (the best fitter ever) is coming to your stable, is awesome.
    If you explain your situation to him, I believe he will be honest. Also the computer saddle pad will give you lots of information that will help you with your decision. You have time to really think about this decision.

  6. I’m on the fence about this one….
    I would never dole out big bucks to fit MY saddle to horse that isn’t even mine…I mean right after you got it done for P, the decision was made to terminate the lease and didn’t you spend like a grand on fitting the saddle? I can’t remember, but I know it was a lot (for me at least). If he has his own saddle I would use that instead of yours. My trainers, myself and my horsey friends have always used a saddle that is fitted to the horse, even if it didnt fit us perfect. A rider can always compensate for the comfort of the horse.
    On the other hand the comfort of the horse IS everything! I don’t think saddles are practical and one will never fit a horse perfectly. Tack is unnatural for a horse, but alas, it is required in show rings. Anyways, it would benefit to fit it to SM if the lease would be long term. Definitely want the big man to be able to move his body around 🙂
    Like I said, I would have a hard time deciding too!

  7. If the saddle fit my horse the way you make it sound as if it fits the schoolmaster, you wouldn’t be allowed to ride my horse in it.

    To me, it’s a no brainer – this is the horse you’re going to be riding, and as was pointed out, it’s going to be a lot more likely to fit other horses if evened out, too. It’s going to be easier for you to ride and get yourself and the SM straight if you’re sitting straight, it’s kinder to his back, etc.

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