Better Saddle Fit – Wider Saddle, Shorter Saddle, Or No Half Pad

Without eyes on the ground very often, pictures can really help, with a lot of things!

Every time there’s some new shots I look, wishfully, for any small sign that she’s working more loose, more supple, more bettah’ than last time.

Staring at the hind.  To see if it looks like it’s working more.  The lumbar area.  The entire back.  Fretting there could be something in the work bothering her, physically.

She has the shortest, steepest sloped hindend ever.  Getting anything other than what I call a” duck trot” has been super hard, and if the saddle is even just a tad too narrow she won’t even try it.

Around December, I got stuck on worrying about too long saddle panels – where the saddle is extending too far back.  With a short backed horse, it can easily happen.

But her saddle, when checking, and double checking in the cross ties, isn’t too long.  Still.  There seemed to be something more to make the canter easier for her…

She needed more room at the shoulders.  The awesome Mattes half pad was just taking up too much space.  Or not?  Only way to be sure – experiment back and forth over many rides between the Mattes, the slimmer Thinline, and one without shims.

mattes pad taking up too much space
With the Mattes pad, no shims.

Riding with the slimmer fitting Thinline Trifecta felt better for her.  Couldn’t tell if removing the 1 mm thin shim made a difference for the shoulder.

thinline trifecta taking up too much space
With the Thinline Trifecta, no shims.


Finally deciding that the Trifecta had to go, too.  She needed the extra width! Without any half pad she felt the best.

riding without half pad

Keeping an eye on her topline if it changes back to more narrow later on.  Probably not…

Trying to figure out how our biomechanics work together, the up and the down stride of the canter has been the trickiest.  She won’t give anything if bothered at all, so riding her means to help as much as can with everything.

You look at this too, right?

Constantly searching for a way to ride more effortlessly…


That was a lot of you who had rider position stuff to hate on last week…  And horse issues.  Makes me feel in good company, so thank you!

Aggravated Easter Egg

Poke, don’t provoke, or it shall explode.

Previous saddle

This was in the previous saddle, where she’d be a bit sensitive at the start of each session, no matter how gentle.  Side reins, no side reins, voice, no voice.

She’s mostly dropped the Easter-Egg-With-A-Razorblade-Surprise attitude, retorting to a mere squeal at the first canter transition, which is OK in my book under age 4.

I’m so pleased with how she’s coming along.  Snail paced improvements, but they’re there.

Especially proud of her leading a trail walk last week, with my friend Christel on Cooper following behind.  (Yay Christel!!!)  With his trail-snorty self tucked in safely behind the baby mare, he was just fine.  And she didn’t even think about kicking out.  Wonderful baby!

She’s been going in the trailer to the Loomis Basin Arena with me and Nancy once a week, even twice last month, each time a new experience.

Cooper is still the better mover of the two.  He often comes out on the lunge line moving absolutely scrumptious.  No dopey Quarterhorse jog – he can float, with power.  Appy-Quarter and all.  I’d love to be able to ride him just the same way.  Back lifted, stretched, very forward.  It has yet to happen.

Here’s our little barn, but hidden.  Grass is mowed now, you can actually see it.

The Barn

County Perfection Saddle

New horse, new saddle. Of course.
It was fun, and also really stressful, to try to find a good fit for both the horse and me. A used one of course, since this is Dressage On A Dime 🙂 We ended up with the County Perfection from County Saddlery. Thanks to Jeane Boice I will be able to ride in this wonderfully cared for saddle. It fits La Prima really well – a bit big for me, but SO comfortable!

The County Perfection Saddle
The County Perfection Saddle

This is the back the saddle had to fit on
The wither clearance was good

Spinal Clearance
Spinal Clearance
County Perfection, side view
County Perfection, side view

No bridging, pinching, or tipping.

Stubben saddle, JRD saddle, Max Hopfner Saddle, Passier Saddle
Stubben saddle, JRD saddle, Max Hopfner Saddle, Passier Saddle

I’m glad to have found one that fit her.

Here we are, heading out with the Stubben
Here we are, heading out with the Stubben

Trudging along with four saddles in and out of the barn and car everyday became tedious. Here they are stored at home. Didn’t want them to become stolen or damaged in any way – this was the best choice.

I hope the saddle will work out really well for us for some time.
Thank you again Jeane Boice, Patrice Palmaer, and Jennette Scanlon for letting me have all the saddles on trial!

Anyone with experience with County saddles – let me know how they have worked out for you – I would love to hear your thoughts!