Episode 53: Saddle Fit and Challenges

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[00:00:22] Hi, I’m Stacy Westfall, and I’m here to teach you how to understand, enjoy and successfully train your own horses in this season of the podcast. I’m talking about horse tack and in today’s podcast the focus is on saddles.

[00:00:38] I’m going to open with my thoughts on saddles and then answer three listener questions.

[00:00:44] And finally, I’m going to talk with somebody who has over 500 saddles on hand.

[00:00:54] There are several things that make saddle fit a challenge, and I think the number one is that we’re trying to satisfy the needs of two individuals, the horse and the rider. I’d like to start this podcast with an interactive visual. So unless you’re driving, if you’re driving, skip this. I’d like you to hold your hands out in front of you. They’re going to represent the bars of the saddle. So if you hold your hands with your fingers pointing away from you and let’s just hold them perfectly flat so your knuckles are up. And both hands are our thumbs meeting. When you start to angle your hands into like just tip your pinkies down a little bit and angle your hands, what you’re gonna be representing there is the bars of the saddle. Now, where this gets really interesting is when we talk about the bars of the saddle. You can imagine that you could hold your hands close together. And that would be a very narrow tree or very narrow set of bars. Now, you could keep the same angles. So let’s say that each of your hands is at a 45 degree angle. You could take that and keep the 45 degree angle in your hand, but you could spread them apart further. So now your hands are four inches apart. That would be a wider tree. So there is the width or the space in between those bars. But there’s also the angle of the bar, because as you can imagine, the more angle that you put on that.

[00:02:23] So if you take it from 45 to 55 or if you take it from 45 to 35, as you angle your hands in and out, you can see how that’s going to change a lot of where the pressure hits on the horse. And then on top of it, you’ll often hear a word used that’s called bridging. And that would be if you’re holding your hands, let’s say that they’re at a 45 degree angle. If you put a lot of arc in your hand so that your knuckles kind of dip down and your fingertips kind of dip up when you do that, that would be putting a lot of rock into the tree. Now, if that is very street, then you can have a saddle on some horses that might bridge, meaning that it would touch only in the front and the back and there’d be a gap in the middle. And then one more thing to consider, which no longer involves your hands and that that angle it is now when we talk about the gulla of the saddle that is that front part of the saddle where those two front bars are connected and how high that gullet is matters. If you have a horse, you do not want your horses withers to touch the gullet of the saddle. So you don’t want the that part where you typically picture the saddle horn being attached.

[00:03:43] You don’t want that so low that it’s touching the horse’s withers if that’s happening. That’s a whole different problem. That actually doesn’t have to do with the width or the angle as much as it does that space that’s in there. And whether or not your horse has high withers now you’ll also notice this is pretty much only been talking about the horse’s experience. Now, if you want a tiny bit of hope, I want you to think of it like this. Think of it a little bit like fitting a shoe. So when you go into a shoe store and you try on shoes, it kind of matters what you’re going to do with the shoe and how frequently you’re going to wear it. So if you’ve got a casual shoe that you want, you can get it. It’s somewhat important how it fits. And, you know, you’ll try it on and you’ll walk around, but you might not be super picky. Now, the more you’re gonna use it or the more intense you’re gonna use that shoe, you’re gonna pay more attention. So let’s say you were going to take up running. You might be more interested in how that shoe was going to fit because of the amount of time you’re going to be wearing it. And because of what you’re going to be doing while you were wearing it. And then we can go as far as saying that maybe you’ve got an issue with your feet and so you actually need like some kind of custom shoe and that can happen to and that’s a little bit more of a unique situation.

[00:05:09] And those are the same scenarios you’re going to run into when you’re discussing Saddle Fit. When we look at it, the other issues are actually the length and frequency of the ride is going to matter. And then the balance of the rider is going to matter. So no matter how good your saddle fits, you can’t make up for it. If you’re very unbalanced and you’ll see this often when you have a a well-trained horse with a well-fitted saddle and you give a lesson to somebody who’s new and kind of bouncing around, then a lot of times that unbalanced rider will actually cause that horse discomfort, even though all the tack is fitting. So the fitness level and the balance of the rider will actually help to improve things. So as we get closer to the New Year, we’re not quite there yet. But it’s another reason to put Rider Fitness higher up there. When you’re not riding your horse doing some kind of exercise because your fitness and balance in general is going to help improve the ride.

[00:06:20] Now on to the questions. This first one is from Jodi. “Hi, Stacy. I’ve binge to listen to your podcast and now it’s on repeat through the night. I’ve learned more from your podcast than I’ve learned from anyone face to face.

[00:06:35] I’m wondering what your thoughts are about treeless saddles. I have an off the track thoroughbred arriving next week and he needs a bit more time to put on weight and muscle. He has high withers. I’m considering a treeless saddle for the interim until I can have him correctly fitted for a saddle once he’s fitter and filled out. There’s so much debate on the topic and I’m really unsure of what to do. I’ve noted that many pro riders use treeless at times. So I’m thinking it’s not as bad as many make it out to be. I’m in Australia and quite remote, so saddle fitting isn’t a quick and easy task. I intend to ride extreme trail endurance and personal ranch work. Not competitive. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.” Jodi. Thanks for the question, Jody. And as with any other saddle fit, treeless comes in a lot of different forms and they actually function really differently. So when we’re talking about treeless, some of them still have a very hard front and back pommel and cantle and even the bars might even be solid, but maybe it just has like flexible wings that are on the bottom of the bars. Some of them actually have soft bars. And so maybe the front and the back are both hard and solid, but the bars in the middle are soft and some are made with material that’s barely flexible, meaning that you could set the saddle down on the ground and you could stand on it and it would flex, but it wouldn’t go flat.

[00:08:13] And others are so flexible that if you set the saddle flat on the ground and stood on it, it would flatten out completely flat. So even when you go into looking at at, you know, flex tree saddles, there’s a lot of research to do. I’ve used some different flex trees and it’s about like anything else as far as regular saddles or saddle pads, which we’ll talk about in the next episode. There are pros and cons and there’s good reasons and there’s some that aren’t so good for certain horses. Probably the biggest criticism that I’ve heard of is if they get really, really flexible. Some question is do they distribute the weight as well, which is kind of the purpose of the saddle is to be able to distribute the weight more evenly. Or do they flex and kind of create a pressure point? Now, I’ve also heard the argument that heavier riders might change the way that that flex tree works more. So if you’ve got a light rider that’s only going to minimally flex it, then you might not end up with that same pressure point type thing. So I’ve seen it where some people have said that it actually the performance of the tree is actually changing due to the weight of the rider, which kind of makes sense if you got something that’s going to flex.

[00:09:33] But again, it totally matters how much it’s going to flex. Now, if you go ahead and do the treeless saddle, the one thing on some of the ones that I tried that you want to make sure doesn’t happen is that if the bars and everything flex, just make sure it doesn’t, then lower the height of the gullet to where as the bars or something flex that it lets that saddle come down and put pressure on the withers. That’s one thing I’ve seen with some of the flex trees that maybe weren’t as well designed or at least didn’t fit that particular horse. So I would watch that. I think that we will see more and more of these different trees that are put into saddles because we are fitting something onto a horse. And with that horse, that horse is going to be moving and functioning, which is that’s a whole another thing. Personally, what I would love to see anybody out there who has a connection. What I’m waiting for is somebody to design a saddle pad that is purely I mean, I want this to be a super expensive saddle pad that’s only used for diagnostic. And I want to pay to put this saddle pad on. And I want to ride my horse. And I want the saddle pad to be communicating to like an iPad and telling me how the horse and the saddle fit each other while I’m riding.

[00:11:04] I don’t need to own this and ride it in an everyday, but I think a saddle company out there really needs to do this so that we can all meet up at different places. And we could actually see because there’s a whole other argument, which is most of the time you’re standing still trying to fit the saddle, to horse the standing still. And then when we go and ride the horse, one of the things we’re looking for is this nice round collection, which basically means asking that horse to kind of arch and build that suspension bridge underneath the saddle, which you could argue can fill in some of that bridging thing that can happen. So, again, this is why this can become a complicated conversation.

[00:11:45] The next question comes from Linda. “What should be the next step when you discover that your tack, specifically your saddle or pad, is causing new white hairs to appear on your horse? Thank you”, Linda. Thanks for your question, Linda. Generally, when we see these white hairs is going to be pointing out that there’s some kind of pressure point. The two most common places I’ve seen that happen would be directly over the withers because something is setting a lot of pressure there. Now, that could be just the gullet of the saddle sitting down on the withers. That can also be a saddle pad that is putting a lot of pressure down on the withers because you always want to make sure that you kind of lift that saddle pad up into the gullet so it releases the pressure over the withers.

[00:12:30] We’re going to talk about saddle pads in the next episode, but it could be pressure point there or the next most common would be those fronts of the bars that you know, that area over the shoulder. Years ago, I was riding a horse and that horse slipped and fell while I was riding it. And neither of us was hurt. But when we stood up and a while later, the horse actually developed some white hairs on the side that we had landed on. And when the chiropractor was out, I was like, I haven’t seen any soreness. But I do know that we slipped and fell. And this was the side we landed on in the chiropractor’s opinion was that that pressure that had happened probably caused it. But he lined it up more like almost a bruise. He was like, oh, don’t get panicked, because, of course, I was panicked. But it was interesting because my horse wasn’t sore. And even more interesting was the next shedding cycle, the hair actually returned to a normal color. So the white hairs disappeared and the regular hairs came back in. So I thought that was kind of interesting. Basically, what I’m going to say is that you get a pretty idea, that pretty good idea, that something is putting a pressure point there.

[00:13:45] So now you have to start the hunt for improved saddle fit or and or the saddle pad combo. A lot of times when I start to suspect my saddle isn’t fitting as well. One of the first things I’ll do is change out to a different saddle pad, much less expensive and order my saddle. That’s been fitting pretty well for a while. Probably hasn’t dramatically changed in less. I’ve seen a really big change in my horse as far as weight or muscling or something. But a lot of times I can actually do a lot of changing with the saddle pad. But again, we’ll talk about that the next episode more. The thing that I would recommend is that you maybe hall somewhere where you can ride in some different saddles. Now this might be a trainer’s barn or a clinic, especially if you can find somebody who you can ask ahead of time, are you willing to talk about saddles and saddle fit? Because what’s interesting is I would say it’s a lot like driving a rental car. You know, a lot of times you’ll drive a rental car when you fly somewhere and you’ll start to learn what you like and what you don’t like. Just buy those short drives in the car and you can actually learn a lot more about what works and what doesn’t work just by trying it out or riding around.

[00:15:02] So a lot of times when people come to lessons or clinics here at our house, we have them go ahead and ride in a few different saddles. If they’re having any question about saddles, if they uttered the words, I’m not sure about my saddle. Odds are we’re going to have a ride in two or three different saddles that we have here, not because they need to buy one immediately, but because if they experience riding in 20 different saddles, they will develop an idea for what works better and what doesn’t work as well. And again, we’re fitting two individuals here. So we’ve got to get the riders preference and the horses preference, which is why a lot of times if you can haul somewhere. That’s what I would find to be the best recommendation I have for you. Otherwise, you’ll hear as we talk a little bit later on when I talk with Trish about some of the other ways that you can you can tackle this.

[00:15:56] The next question comes from Nikki. “Will you please talk about Western dressage saddles? What makes a Western saddle conductive to dressage? I know you’ve developed several saddles. Will you be creating a Western dressage saddle? I understand you’ve been riding dressage in a ranch, reining and riding saddle if you develop a dressage saddle. What would you do differently?” Nicky. Yes, thank you for the question. Nicky and I have been using the saddle that we developed.

[00:16:26] My husband actually developed the saddle I’ve been riding in and it was designed excuse me, it was designed more for training and ranch riding, but it was developed well enough that it allows my leg to hang more straight down. So what you want to watch for is that some Western saddles were Darvon designed for different reasons. So if you have a cutting saddle, they’re going to want you to set in a pretty different way than like a Western pleasure saddle. And so if you look at even top riders in different Western disciplines, you’re going to notice that they’re sitting in different ways due to what they’re doing. So because dressage wants you to have more of that ear, shoulder, hip, heel in a line, you want that more horsemanship ability to put your body in that that more horsemanship type form you’re going to want to saddle. That doesn’t fight you. If you go there. And what I mean by that is if you’ve got a saddle that naturally wants to swing your leg forward, you’re going to be constantly trying to bring that leg backward and back to that to that straight up and down area. So what I notice the most when I switch back and forth between any of my Western saddles and my dressage saddle is two things. Number one, there’s a lot less saddle there in the dressage saddle. Now, that doesn’t mean I feel less secure because it’s actually my saddle has a pretty good dip there in the middle between the Pomerleau and the cattle.

[00:18:05] And so when you look at saddle, it’s got that really deep seat. And I really like that. But I can feel that my leg hangs a little bit more straight. And the number one difference, easy to see, it is that big fender.  Basically that leather that holds the stir up to the saddle is called the fender. And that fender is inches wide in my dressage saddle and it is very wide in my western saddle. And so it is easier for me to move my leg very subtly in my dressage saddle because of that reduced fender. Now, when I have got a Western saddle that I’ve been riding in for a long time and the leather is very broken in and soft and it’s it’s really nice, then I get pretty close to the same feeling. But I do know that that with that’s what’s changing. I haven’t really totally gone down the road of thinking about developing a western dressage saddle per say, because this saddle I’ve been using, you know, I just won two world titles with it. So I’m fairly partial to the fact that I think it’s fitting good enough for that. And then I’m not quite sure I want to. Make some of the changes that have been suggested because let’s just say making the skirt smaller. I’m not sure that that’s necessary.

[00:19:33] And so I kind of don’t want to just do it, just to do it. I like the way this one rides and feels. But here’s what I’m going to do. The same thing I just recommended when I was answering the last question. Every time I get near someone with something they call a Western dressage saddle, I’m going to get on and ride. And if possible, I’m going to sit on them when I go to Expos. If I find a horse that saddle up with it, if I go to a tack store, I’m going to sit in them and I’m going to develop my own opinion the same way I just recommended that it should be done. If you’re looking for any saddle. Thanks again for your question. Now, I’d like to share with you a conversation that I had with my friend Trish Campese from Stagecoach West. Over the years, I had a lot of different offers from saddle makers to design saddles with them. But in the end I ended up choosing Stagecoach West. And the reason I chose them is because of their customer service. They really care about saddle fit and they could actually hit price points that were in the range of the majority of my customers. I also really like that they take trade-ins on used saddles, which was important to me because over the years I’ve traded in many saddles as I wanted to change what I was doing or upgrade.

[00:20:58] Let’s listen to my conversation with Trish.

[00:21:03] So, Trish, on today’s podcast, I’ve been talking about saddles and it’s a huge subject. And when somebody first walks into your store, I’m not even sure which happens more. So you’ll have to tell me whether they’ve whether it’s their first, you know, horse saddle thing or whether they’re even looking to replace the saddle. I’m not sure. You might still get the same questions. Almost not even. Based on experience level, but just flat saddle fitting feels complicated. Is that is that what I am? Is that correct? Is that observation pretty correct?

[00:21:37] It can be complicated sometimes to not be complicated.

[00:21:42] Go ahead and break it down for me, because I have to admit that even after all of these years, you know, there’s definitely the big chunks of it that I’m way more comfortable with. But there’s so many nuances depending on, you know, different things that I still have trouble maybe explaining it clearly. I’m going to let you give that a shot.

[00:21:59] So I think the first thing, if somebody walks into my store and they first off, when they see it, I have I have a lot of saddles. We carry well over 500 saddles in our store and that’s just on our floor. So I think one of the things that we always ask them is, first off, what discipline are you writing? Because you do, then that kind of narrows down which type of saddle that are, you know, maybe need to look at or need to sit in. And then the next thing would be, you know, is there a price range that you want to stand? As we also carry a pretty wide variety of you saddles. So we try to have a little bit of something for everybody.

[00:22:39] Then the next thing that we really want when I ask them is, so what? What kind of horse are you writing? We have pictures of your horse. Mm hmm. What have you tried on your horse that maybe didn’t work or didn’t work? And if they have no clue. Pictures are always the number one thing that helps us. Yeah. There are so many different, you know, inside of these saddles that are built for different shaped horses. And so we try to start with those basic questions so that we can at least kind of target and get them in the right area for, you know, what happens to different cells and see what’s comfortable for them.

[00:23:19] Yeah, because essentially you’re fitting two different beings. You’re fitting the saddle to the horse without the often without having the horse. Although I have to say that I’m in Ohio. You’re in New York, and I’m constantly telling people if you are within even like six, eight hour, whatever your tolerance is, I’m like drive to the store because they have an arena out behind the store and put the saddle on the horse. But I also know that with a lot of the saddles, you will take returns on your saddles. Can you talk a little bit about that before we go a little bit more into, you know, guessing on that saddle fit? But let’s just say somebody buys one of the saddles that Jesse designed, and they’re in Wisconsin and you’re in New York. What would you be talking them through?

[00:24:06] Well, first off, the same thing we would want to have them email us some photos if they’re extremely not 100 percent sure about the fit. You know, we know how the tree fits. If they get us some pictures and we can make a pretty educated guess off of those pictures, whether that saddle will fit or not. But one of the things that we’ve always had in place is we have a 10 day return policy. And that’s not just you’re not getting any fees incurred if they return the saddle to to us. So there aren’t any hidden fees. Well, obviously, they’re going to have to pay the shipping coming back to us. We offer free shipping going out. If you give us a call, we can issue a call tag. What they would it would normally cost them to ship it back to us. But we want people to feel that even a 10 days, they can’t get the saddle back to us right away. We are very lenient with that policy. I would allow up to a month, depending on the situation, because not everybody has somebody to come out to help them fit the saddle if they need help or ask. If they need to have the vet come out and check the saddle. We’re very understanding with all of that.

[00:25:24] So I try not to, you know, limit people. Yeah, we have a 10 day policy, but do we really stick to it? And we kind of let things slide a little bit just because we don’t be in a family right business. I don’t. I can make my own rules at the end of the day.

[00:25:50]  We had a lot of different offers (places to build saddles with) and we went with working with you guys because of your views on exactly this, between the views of your, you know, wanting the fit to be right for the horse and rider so much that you were willing to stand behind it on before, during and after the sale. And then the fact that I was able to say to you, like Trish, if this is the wrong saddle, if we don’t, it’s the saddle we designed doesn’t fit their horse. Please sell them something that I don’t have any connection to. Because, you know, they needed a saddle that fits, and I love that you carried a wide range of manufacturers, wide range of price ranges and saddle, you know, styles and and and everything. Because I’m well aware that the saddle that we design and ride in on our, you know, 14 to for 15 hand quarter horses that are shaped predominately like a reiner might not fit somebodies draft cross or whatever else it is that, you know, is coming down the road. So I love that you guys are really open to that kind of stuff because there’s a lot that goes in the saddle fit. Yes. So I know one thing we’ve discussed of a fair amount is, you know, that the needs of the horse might change depending on their age or their fitness level. Can you kind of talk about what you see with people in Saddle Fit and those subjects?

[00:27:22] One of the one of the big ones that we see and we hear quite often we’ll be you know, somebody comes into our store in the spring and, you know, they’re getting ready to start, you know, the process of getting their horse back into shape and start writing them. And we fit the saddle to the horse. According to the horse at that time and then over the summer is their discipline. They start writing, you know, more hours every day longer. You know, more often the horse changes that it would. It’s no different than me. I’m not the same size I was when I was twelve. You know, I don’t wear the same size that I did then in the horse typically can change their their whole top line changes, their muscling changes. So we do see a little bit of that. You know, and and that does become a problem, you know, because of what didn’t fit what fit the horse. Good. At one point might not get them later through the summer months.

[00:28:20] Yes. They change all the time. Yeah.

[00:28:23] Even with age, you know, horses have changed. As they get older, their back starts to change. They grow up a little behind the shoulder blade. And they’re they don’t get as tight as muscling as they used to. So, I mean, that all plays into trying to do the best for the horse. You know, when we do have them.

[00:28:45] Yes. And, you know, just it’s it’s a little bit of a challenge. But just to let people understand a little bit more when you’re looking at those saddles, there’s the width of the saddle and how wide it is, you know, going to be. But there’s also like a flare to that. The saddle tree. And like, is it going to be kind of more upright, like more like a steep letter A or is it going to kind of widen out into a wider and wider a letter a. And then it’s got like something called the twist, which I’m trying to figure out how you would describe without any visuals. How would you describe that?

[00:29:24] Well, the way I would describe that is as they are building a saddle and they’re putting the seat and the piece across the top of the seat. The saddle maker actually can skive down that center part to make it fit narrower or they can lift it up to have it tilted. So the rights of the saddle to be a higher rise in it, everybody fits so differently. That’s my my big thing is that you need to sit in these saddles.

[00:29:55] So, I mean, if you’re at a you go to any kind of event where there’s all those different vendors there with all those different saddles, I always recommend them go sit in the saddle. Don’t feel ashamed to walk into a store. And then, you know, sometimes people get embarrassed. They don’t want to sit on them. You have to sit on them. Every everybody there can be five of us standing there in our store. We get a brand new saddle and that we’re all excited that we designed. That’s come in. Everybody sits in it. Yes, it is. It’s good to know how each one of those sit.

[00:30:27] Yes. And, you know, we do something similar here at the clinics. And and I think you’re right, there is like an apprehension a lot of times. But people will come and they’ll be riding around. And sometimes we’ll see a little bit of something going on. And we’re not 100 percent sure if it’s saddle or not. And we’ll start switching our saddles because it’s pretty easy for us to have four or five different style saddles in our barn at any time. And then they come in with their saddle and we’ll start switching things out and watching how the horse moves different and how the rider sits different and all this stuff. And sometimes I see people getting a little bit uptight, like they think I’m trying to sell them another saddle. And I’ll I’ll try to be really clear and say, I want you to gain a ton of experience so that not today, but someday down the road. And it might be with this horse or it might be with another horse or whatever. The next time you are ready to buy a saddle, every time you sit in another one and ride in another one, especially, you have that. Serious that you carry with you forever, so you get the more experience you can get. Gain it like borrow your friends for five minutes, like switch out, because the more things you feel, you’ll know you’ll develop a feel for what you like and what you dislike. And that’s kind of what I hear you saying. Like, feel free to do that in the store, too.

[00:31:45] Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. We always recommend that you never saw them, you know. Especially because that it’ll help you determine. You know, you might ride a 16-inch, but in a different style of saddles, say you sit a 16 in a trail, but then you want to sit a 16 inch barrel racer or that barrel racer is going to set differently than their trail saddle. And you might be a different seat type until it’s good to have, you know, when you’re in someplace that where there are people there who can tell you. OK. Look, look here. This is how it’s supposed to feel and this is how it should fit. But, you know, you need a different seat size.

[00:32:21] So. Yeah, yeah. And as far as. Yeah. And as far as fitting the horse, one of the things we do pretty common is we encourage people to, you know, put the saddle on without a pad and just tried running their hands underneath that saddle to feel four different pressure points. Is that kind of the most basic, is that the most basic version when you’re trying to talk to somebody over the phone about how to maybe check whether there’s some serious pressure points going on? You have. Yeah. Is that it? Yeah.

[00:32:51] So you want to look at the pressure point in the front because that’s obvious one that everyone checks where they always check for the under the you know, the horse’s shoulder. Yeah. Make sure that it’s got clearance on the horse’s weathers. Yep. And it used to be you know you want to be able to fit three or four fingers but I’ve had it works two fingers and it fits the horse beautifully. Now that’s not necessary. Always the best rule of thumb. But you want clearance under that.

[00:33:22] You know, and then you check the shoulder area because you do not want, you know, the top part of the tree to be tight in the bottom part to be loose. You’d like the same nice even pressure going all the way down where the tree is involved. The other spot that a lot of people neglect to check is where you actually sit in the saddle. So the two sides of that tree should follow the curve of the horse’s back. Kind of not an easy place to check for fit. The two ways you can do it is up underneath your fender. So you want to reach up under the side of the saddle as far up to the center of the back as possible. And you want to make sure that tree is making somewhat of contact. Doesn’t have to be exactly down on him, but you don’t want it. So off their back that you can wave your hand in there. Yeah. And then the back part of the tree. The other thing that’s important when you’re looking at saddle to stand back from the horse with the saddle item and make sure that the saddle is level. So the pommel in the candles should be who level, not the horn the.

[00:34:28] Yeah. You know what we can do is we can stick some pictures and video in the show notes for this episode so that some of the stuff we’re talking about that could be a little bit harder to visualize for people if they’re not quite sure what the pommel is, what the candle is, what the gullet. We can I can stick some some illustrations into the show notes so that they can see that. But for sure, I mean, I’m always recommended to people to ride with somebody that you that you trust. Go take a lesson, but don’t be afraid at your lesson to just spend the first half an hour of your lesson talking about equipment and fit, because sometimes I think the instructors, if you don’t ask them for that, are a little bit, you know, unless there’s something glaring. They just kind of jump in to what they think you paid for, which was like how to go in a circle. And, you know, if you say I’d really value your opinion on equipment fit, I don’t know anybody that would refuse that. But they won’t necessarily force you into it if it’s not something glaring. So and then for anybody who’s lucky enough to be within driving range of a store or like Stagecoach West Drive straight there.

[00:35:38] When I was shopping for my dressage saddle, I was close to an English store down here. And I took my horse to the store and they were not nearly as set up. I was actually next to a railroad track in a parking lot. So your store with the full riding arena is like a serious thing. And I know I’ve sent several people over there with trucks, trailers and horses, because if you’re if you’re about to make a pretty substantial investment, I mean, your horse is a huge investment. And then, you know, your saddle is a pretty good chunk of change investment. You know, you might as well make sure you really have a great one. And in the next episode, we’re going to talk about like the cousin to the saddle, which is gonna be the saddle pad. So I think we’ll end this episode and. And move in into on the next one, we’ll talk about the saddle pads. How’s that sound, Trish?

[00:36:30] Sounds awesome. Well, thanks again for joining me and for all of your information. Oh, you’re very welcome. I hope you found that conversation helpful. And I wanted to let you know that if you do go over to www.stagecoachwest.com and you choose to make a purchase, if you use the code ‘Stacy’ , you’ll get 15 percent off your entire order…excluding saddles.

[00:36:58] But the good news on saddles is that they do offer six month and twelve month, zero percent financing if that’s something you’re looking into. Thank you for joining me and I’ll talk to you again in the next episode.


  1. Ulrike on December 4, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    Hi Stacy,
    I just wanted to let you know that there actually are several companies that make the saddle pressure measuring blankets that you asked for. There’s a company called medilogic and I know there’s at least one other company out there, but forgot their name. I’m not affiliated with them, just thought you might be interested.

    • Stacy Westfall on December 6, 2019 at 10:28 am

      Thank you!
      After this episode I had several people reach out and let me know. I’m looking into where I need to go to ride with one!

  2. Martina Brown on November 21, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Hello Stacy
    I was just listening to you describe Jesse’s saddle and how it allows your legs to hang straight down. When I tried that saddle, that was the best I have felt on her plus you know I have problems with my hips and my hips did not even hurt. Ever since I was at your place and tried that saddle, I have not been able to find that feel anywhere else. I did talk with Trish and sent her pictures of Hildy. She was thinking that maybe I need a wide tree. I wish her store was closer!!! The only other thing she had mentioned was that the saddle might be to long since Hildy has a short back. When I rode in that saddle I was going to go home and purchase it until it kept slipping. When I mentioned that to Trish that was when she said I may need a wide saddle. I know what I need to da and that is order a wide one and see if it works, but it just seems like such a hassle and then if it didn’t work I would feel bad returning it. I have one other place that may have something similar where I can take Hildy. They have an indoor arena where I can try out the saddle. It is an RW Bowman saddle. They are about 3 hours away. I know I am being very picky but when you spend that kind of money you kinda have to be.

    • Stacy Westfall on November 29, 2019 at 1:42 pm

      You should be picky! And don’t feel bad about returning the saddle if it doesn’t work. They sell them…because there are other horses out there that can use them. I think Trish is onto something with the idea of a wider saddle.
      I vote that you ride in them both!!!

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