It came with a balance strap, but no girth. I wanted to get it on the horse first before deciding what length girth to order. In fact, I think I will order two different lengths of string girths for everyday use and decide which length works best before investing in a three fold leather girth.
All week I have been dreaming at night that I was riding side saddle. I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking the saddle won't fit the horse and I will have to go through reflocking hassles. You see, coming from a Saddle Seat background, I am not accustomed to all the saddle fit fuss. Saddle Seat saddles come in one tree. Flat. In fact, they pretty darn near come in one size. Adult. I've never had back problems with any horse using your standard Lane Fox saddle made by a good saddle company.
So all I've heard about side saddle fit and flocking has me pretty anxious. And since there are no saddlers around here, unless you count Amish harness makers, I'll have to send it out if I want an adjustment. And if I'm going to send it out, I may as well send it to Lillian since she reconditioned and repaired it and knows it well. And I'm not too keen on the idea of sending this saddle all the way back across the country now that I finally have it.
Today is one of those bleary, damp, snowy, blowy, greasy, yucky days. I had butterflies in my stomach the whole drive to the barn. I was finally going to put MY side saddle on MY horse. Oh the agony! When I got to the barn, I found my horse soaking wet from playing in the snow. It's 25 degrees outside! What is he doing soaking wet? It makes me cold just thinking about it. So I brought him in and toweled him until he was merely damp (and stinky).
I had already sorted out a non-elastic saddle seat girth, a girth extender, and a martingale loop to keep the balance strap in place. I saddled him up and was relieved to find that the saddle fits him pretty much the same as my hunt seat saddle. To my amateur saddle fitter's eye, the gullet looks fine, the tree is a good width, and the saddle is not bridging. Lillian has done a lovely job balancing it, and it sits level left to right. If anything, it sits a bit up hill, but it could be that I have it a touch too far forward.
Mr. William Pendleton is unimpressed with this new piece of equipment. It's uniqueness is lost on him.
"Woo Hoo. A saddle."
I reversed him and let him trot, then asked him to canter. He offers to buck and play as usual and I tell him not too. He feels the balance strap, but doesn't seem to mind much. I stop him and take it up two more notches. It is now snug but I can easily slip my fingers under.
After about 10 minutes I brought him back in and check the saddle from every angle. It hasn't moved one bit. I had the girth tight, and tightened it twice while longing him, but I did not have it REALLY tight as I might if I were going to ride. I'll do this again next weekend, to let us both get familiar with the saddle, and then we'll try actual riding.