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.