In a super awesome good way!
So Jade's been in Texas about a month and it was quickly apparently that in order to ride her, I'd need a new saddle. I hate shopping and I JUST bought my new M Toulouse Marianne in JANUARY, so the idea of shopping AGAIN was toe curling. I also knew deep down I couldn't ride my $$$ horse in a $ saddle and expect any sort of greatness. Also, Friesians are not an off the shelf kind of horse in really any form so I began the horror that is dealing with saddle fitters.
I guess the lucky thing about coming off buying the Marianne is that I had a good feel for what would work for me at least so I started with that. I read online. I looked at Jade. Basically there's ONE saddle fitter that's recommended in my area and she also deals in Albions which used to work well for me so I sent her an email. I got a call back that day but hashing out the actual appointment has resulted in one response email and NO followup calls for an entire month until now (more on that later).
Looking around, the Custom Saddles are getting good reviews and USDF has them as their official saddle and Steffen Peters rides in one, yadda yadda and the rep for Texas comes to my area regularly. I figured it couldn't hurt so I contacted her. She was prompt, helpful, and we were set to meet roughly this weekend. The last week heading into it I had heard nothing so I contacted her again and after a little communication lag, I knew she was coming Saturday PM. I live like 2 minutes from the barn so whatever. I also let her know I would ride KATY so I could work the fit for me and fit it for JADE.
I'm sure she thought I was nuts but whatever, right?
I won't go into huge details about it but basically she showed up on this day with one of the Custom Saddlery company owners (omg, right?!) and he proceeded to dump thousands of dollars of saddles on the ground and at me. I had studied extensively online and knew that the Icon Flight was most likely to fit ME but I said to just give me whatever and we'd try it out. I didn't want to know much about the saddle, just go and ride, go and ride.
Katy was a little keyed up at first and I was very wham bam about the whole thing so that didn't help. We plopped saddle #1 on her and I headed for the nearest field. Very little warmup and we walk trot cantered to the right and came back. Saddle swap and repeat. Always to the right so I can compare better. I'd rate the saddle when I got back and we'd go again. After about saddle #2 though, Katy was sooo relaxed. She eagerly cantered (which is not something she's been doing so hot at for the past.. forever) and I could lift her back and she started using her shoulders.
WHO KNEW SHE HAD SHOULDERS?!?!?!
By the end she was so relaxed and so bendy that I was sold. On a saddle for Katy. Derp.
In the end, the Icon Flight was our saddle hands down. It was like the skies opened up and the sun shone down on us in that moment. All my struggles with my right hip, all Katy's struggles with her canter, gosh it was all gone. Even more shocking, I didn't want to get off! I just wanted to ride and ride and ride and ride. It was soooo comfy and soooo awesome I just knew it was the one. Shea sold me the demo there on the spot and we fitted it to Jade but it turns out Katy's back is more a wider type like Jade's so I get to use the saddle on both. Sorry about all those medium trees Katy! lol.
Shea and the company owner were in love with Katy by the end as she was sooo patient and well behaved for the whole order. Not bad for Miss Craiglist Special! And thus ended my saddle search and onward to riding Jade. *gulp
Oh and that other saddle fitter? They LITERALLY contacted me the day I got this saddle. I was all well, I'd be happy to still try and Albion but I do have a Custom on trial, not sure what the etiquette is with that but I'd be happy to compare. *radio silence