Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Mayhew Lissadell

This lovely saddle arrived safe and sound on yesterday.  Today, I took it to the barn to try on William.  I was so nervous working up to this.  Will this saddle fit?  How well will it fit?  What will it feel like?  What adjustments will have to be made?  I had myself all worked up.  At least this time I am familiar enough with side saddles to not be so intimidated by all the straps, and I have a whole duffel bag of gear from girths to pads to vetwrap.  I feel fairly well equipped. This saddle seems much more compact, lighter, and easier to tote around (in and out of doors especially) which somehow makes it seem less intimidating or less of a production, and more normal.

I forgot to bring a 4 foot level, but the saddle seems to fit fairly level.  Perhaps a touch up hill, but the level is in my car now so we'll find out for sure tomorrow.

My main concern, after the challenges of the Martin and Martin, is getting a tree which is well sprung enough to fit down on his withers well and not leave the saddle sitting too high and top heavy inviting it to spin to the near side.  Linda warned me that this saddle is very fully flocked on the off side (which is to balance the additional stuffing you need under your left seat bone) but that it is something I may be able to remove myself.  It is noticeably fuller on the off side than the near.  I can slip my hand under the near side and feel a bit of a "void" in the area behind his shoulder blade.  I ran my hand all along the front edge, paying special attention to the near side point.  It is snug, but in my judgement, not more snug at the point than along the whole of the front edge.

After longeing and riding (briefly) the saddle seems to sit down better.  I will take more photos tomorrow after riding.

There is still a lot of clearance at the cut back and down the entire gullet.  I worry it may be a bit much since I have little to compare it to.

The saddle is very comfortable for me.  As you will note, my balance strap needs to be snugged up.  Today I had limited time and did not get out of a walk so it was not a problem.  The seat is 23" long by 14" wide and seems to fit the "footprint" of my butt quite nicely.  The position of the upright pommel feels much more natural to my right leg, and the leaping head is a perfect fit to my left thigh.

So that's the preliminary results of the first trying on.  I will go through it all again and see if I can get any better photos.  Please let me know your opinions as this saddle is subject to a brief trial period and if it looks to be completely unworkable, it can be returned.


  1. Needs flocking removed at the offside wither. The void you said you feel behind the shoulder blade - is that along the panel in the "waist" area of the saddle?

    I would not make adjustments there until the saddle has flocking removed at the offside wither. Might need to remove a tad at the nearside as well. The shape of the points looks fairly good along his sides.

    I wish he had more withers and a better "saddle pocket" - it would make fitting so much easier - but you work with the horse who have & love! I took the saddles that fit ME when I went horse shopping. If the saddle didn't fit the prospective horse, he was out of the running. There are a LOT more horses in this world than there are qualiy old name side saddles where I like the feel & ride!

    Fit for you looks quite nice.

    Unfortunately, flocking changes can't be made if the saddle is to be returned... :-(

    Linda F.

  2. Oh wait... no, no, it doesn't look like it fits well at all... my mistake, you'd better send it up to me! lol
    Just kidding I think it looks fabulous for you and grey! Love LOVE the Mayhews! If Grey seems happy and you feel comfortable and don't seem to be struggling to get comfortable or feel square, then I'd say it fits well. You will know if it doesn't fit you and Grey will tell you if it's not comfortable for him. I always check the fit when the saddle is girthed up loosely, mine tends to seem bridged when it isn't girth up but once it's tightened up a bit, it's not a problem. Another spot to check is the curve of the long point, make sure it isn't too curved & digging into Grey's side. Just two little things that I've learned to check!

  3. Is the saddle stable when you are up? With his back shape, this may be the best you find as long as the saddle is secure. More prominent withers and a saddle pocket would bring the fit closer to him in front.

    Was the pic from the front before or after you were up on him?

    Finally, pull up or "tent" your pad into the gullet of the saddle. It may allow the saddle to settle in a bit better.

  4. Don't worry, I won't mess with it just yet. I will try tenting the pad. It was being a little difficult, and I would have had it off, but I did not want to dirty the panels during the trial period.

    The first picture of the front was before I was up on him. The one with the rein on his neck was after. The one down the gullet was before.

    He has good withers, but they are forward. They don't slope into his back, they drop off leaving a barrel back flat across from side to side. It's a Saddlebred thing. And he likes his saddles well back. I don't have any trouble with an astride saddle rolling, but if it is not well back he will adjust it himself!

    It felt quite stable but did shift in the end. As you can see, I had neglected my balance strap so that will help. My goal is to find a saddle that fits me. Since I will not be jumping, competeing dressage, or riding for long periods of time, I am prepared to sacrifice a bit on the fit of the horse. Odds are I will outlive him. If I can ride this saddle on him without it spinning I will call it good enough.

    We shall see what tomorrow's ride brings.

  5. I rode Saddlerbreds at the University of Florida in the late 70s and early 80s - 1st & 2nd generation progeny of Supreme Commander. They had such different conformation - knifeblade withers and sway backs. You wouldn't belive the padding we used on those dippy backs!

  6. Oh I can. We had a soft backed horse who was built like an Oscar Mayer Weiner. And I had a mare here for a few years who was a 16hh horse on a 15hh body. All her height was her withers and her back was flat as a pancake.

    I'll study the "void" on the near side and get back to you. I am always fighting with the safe!

  7. Congrats on that saddle... I had my eye on it, just didn't have the funds!