Friday, September 21, 2012

Its About the Journey...Right?

And sometimes the journey sucks when all you really want to do is get to your destination already.

Before I go on - just wanted to update that trainer did ride Ben yesterday, and said he was fine. A little sticky at the walk, but fine afterwards. Her verdict- she thinks he's got growing pains.

I agree with her, but I also think there is more to it. I do think he has soreness. Specifically on the left side of his body. I do think he is growing, too. And I also think he's becoming very particular about his rider- maybe due to soreness/growing. But his tolerance is quite low for an ammy who is less precise, less balanced, and overall less effective. I do not have the ability to make him go well, to show him the light,  he has the ability to then screw around and then get pissy when I try to correct him. I think a lot of it is attitude- in a "you can't make me" kind of way. It's a negative cycle that is not getting better.

So- how do we fix this? I think part of my riding him poorly is pain related on my part. Simply put, I have never been that comfortable on Ben, though when he goes nicely he's much easier to ride and I quite enjoy him. But when he's not going nicely, which is the majority of the time at the moment, I am in a lot of pain, I can't find my balance, and I can't be effective. I need help.

One thing I have zero'd in on is the saddle. The Isabell does me no favors in this department. And so, I have kicked off The Great Saddle Search for Ben and I.

So far we have been seen by two local fitters. One is a rep for Albion, and she is quite lovely. In that demo I learned a ton about my own needs in a saddle, and how little changes in the seat, thigh blocks, pommel, size can mean huge changes in my own comfort. By the end of the demo, we had zero'd in on the best match for Ben and I that Albion can offer: an 18" platinum ultima Genesis, standard seat. And the price tag for said saddle: $4,000.

If you just threw up a little in your mouth, don't worry, so did I.

However, knowledge is power. I walked away knowing which Albion would work. And also what to look for in any saddle when it comes to finding my own comfort.

On to Option B, potentially C...the Kent & Masters. At $1800, just about half the price of the Albion. Fitter came out and did wonderful tracings, and also identified some sore spots on guessed it- on the left side of his body.

I already own one Kent and Masters dressage saddle- I find it to be quite comfortable, even more so than the Albion I tried. I was hoping that with a quick change of gullet and perhaps a shifting of the flocking, that this saddle would work. As it turns out, it was not meant to be- it just rocks too much on Ben and is quite unstable. Kent and Masters, though, has recently come out with a new line - the S series- which is a bit more low profile. The fit for Ben was good. With some adjustments to flocking, it can be made to work for him. For me, it was quite easy on my hips, but boy that seat is hard, and it seemed to be hitting me a bit funny. All the same, during the ride, I felt like I got over that weird feeling. As it happens, a friend of mine has this saddle and offered to let me borrow it - and so I've been riding in it for the past few days. And my seat bones are sore, though my hips feel great. Shit.

What I'd really like to do to rule it in/out is to find an 18" and sit in it to see if that changes anything. While it appears that a 17.5" in any saddle works for me by looks, I've been finding more comfort in larger saddles.

So - I haven't quite found "the one" just yet. I do, however, have pictures and tracings and so if need be, I can send those off to other saddlery's to start looking at other saddle options. However, I do know that the saddles that could fit us are not exactly cheap - I'd be looking at anything from $2500-3500 and up.

Unfortunately, a cheap fix, even used, is looking less and less likely. Even if I find a used saddle, say an Albion, that fits the specs, it will likely need flocking adjustments and fitting, which will add a couple hundred bucks to the ticket- at which point I am closer to the cost of a new one anyway. It would have to be a really great deal, and these saddles seem to hold their value (which is great if i find myself an Albion owner at the end of all this).

I am trying not to let saddle-fitting anxiety rule my life, but thus far I have been unsuccessful. I just want to find it, and move on. And hopefully not be out $4k in the process. I've been trying to tell myself to enjoy this as a learning experience rather than an obstacle impeding my progress. This is an opportunity to learn and grow, and gain knowledge where its lacking.

But I just want a well fitting saddle, dammit.

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