Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Long Process of Do It Yourself

Saturday is the only time I have to spend leisurely at the barn. But something always seems to come up to put me off from hauling my side saddle out there. Either I'm too stiff and sore, or too tired and uninspired. Last weekend company came, so it was all rush-rush-rush. But today was rainy and lazy, so it was a good time to mess with the side saddle. Kathie, who sold me the saddle, sent me a Cashel lift pad to try. So I stuck it in my side saddle duffle and headed out.

I have a lot of gear in my side saddle duffle. There are two lift pads, the shaped, quilted pad with shims that I made myself, my long reins, the loop for the girth to keep the balance strap, a girth extender just in case, and several rolls of Vetwrap .

After half an hour of layering and repositioning, I have a stack resembling a Big Mac with the corners of the rug pads sticking out at various spots like the corners of cheese slices. Today I went with the quilted pad with the near side shim (didn't help), a non slip under that, then the Cashel with a rug pad between the quilted pad and the Cashel. I really did like the Cashel pad. It gave the cantle the perfect lift, but I still have trouble tipping left. So, I think this fall the saddle will be on it's way to Lillian for some adjustment. I think if we pull some flocking out of the front, that will help level it a lot too. What a patient guy William is being. He hates the saddling up process any day, and side saddling takes a lot of fussing right now.

Is it just me, or is the highest part of the cantle not on center with the gullet?

I got settled in astride, the swung my leg over. Mom just happened to snap the photo at the point, and we both thought this was a funny picture. I must admit, side saddle (the way I do it) is not always elegant and glamorous.

William looks for help from Mom.
He has been a little off in the left front leg. I think the hard ground is starting to tell on him and I'm going to try some sole packing. When I first started off, my being aside sent him listing hard to the left. We finally got leveled out and his left shoulder raised, but once we got the kinks worked out I took him outside so we would have a straightaway to work on.

Now I'm listing hard to the left. Well most of me. The rest is listing right. I raised my stirrup a notch so I'm not always tipping my heel to leg him on. I found that pointing my right toe down caused my calf to cramp, so I had to let up on that a bit.

I didn't feel like I was slouching this badly, but the camera sure caught it!

From the off side we look much more elegant. I actually felt secure and comfortable at both the walk and the trot.

But of course, the walk always looks better.

Not from this angle!!! This is actually the sweet spot where my right seat bone feels best. And I do feel like I'm leaning, but no where near this hard.

There go the wings. It's hard to sit pretty and steer at the same time. Should my right toe be pointing more forward? I'm not sure if it will. I'll have to work on that.

Push push push and cluck. Giddy up!
OK, I've fixed my slouch... too much.

Ahhh... finally a nice angle.
My calf was cramping, and I felt like as I tired, I was tipping left more, so I decided not to try the canter. This horse's canter is very active and bounding and hard for me to ride even when I'm sitting in the middle. We'll have to get my hips fixed before we try that.
Next weekend, I'm going to try the saddle with no pads at all and see what issues we come up with. Ideally, I would like to be able to do away with all the padding nonsense,


  1. Great to see pics of you riding! William looks just great!
    I agree that I think the highest point on the cantle doesn't look centered, not sure why though?
    I tried a bunch of different pads under my saddle and a lot of them seemed to make the issues worse, especially if they were too squishy. The one I found that worked really well was called a "Pro-lite" pad, you can get them with a front lift or a rear lift.
    You're definitely making progress though!! Looks good!

  2. When I first started riding sidesaddle, my saddle kept slipping and we just kept cranking up the girth (poor horse!) Anyway - I found out it was my simple cotton saddle pad that was the culprit. It was not totally flat. It had a really cushioned pommel area. After removing that - it was so much better. You cannot even begin to learn to ride aside until that saddle is totally secure. I wasted 6 months with this issue! Turns out I had to abandon my first saddle .. although it is a really nice one and I had it totally restored by Lillian.. it did not fit either of my sidesaddle horse prospects.

    I hope you get it figured out. Don't give up. When it works .. it is wonderful! I so wish you could ride Oliver.

  3. I know Julie, it's tough to have only one saddle and one horse to work with.

    My next step is to go back to the beginning with no pads at all. I think this may be the one time when having a horse built uphill by over an inch may be a inconvenience.

    I've also thought of trying it on our lame retiree just to see how it feels on a different horse. Alternatively, I can go horse shopping with saddle in hand. Probably cheaper and quicker to buy a horse to fit the saddle than the other way around.

    Darn blogger won't even let me comment on my own blogs,