First, she's in it for the horses. Not for the money, not for the fancy custom saddles, but for the horses. If that isn't the perfect start for a saddle fitter, I don't know what is. So she rolls up right on time (dude, in the horse world, this in itself is a small miracle) and we get the pony going and ready for her tracings. This starts with a short massage, where she points out tight muscles and sore spots. She remarks that Tess does not have much back soreness and though she does have some tense spots, it's fairly minimal. Then she makes Tess square her feet up and does all kind of fancy measurements, which she writes down on a chart. Then she gives me a copy of the chart. She proceeds to mark up Tess's back, uses a level to find her flat point. Oh, flat point? I meant the least downhill point. Ah, my poor croup high pony. She takes picture after picture of Tess and her conformation. She asks questions about her history, what problems we've encountered, has she has any bodywork. She is incredibly thorough.
Dawn shows me her car full of saddles. Saddles ranging from six hundred to over three thousand. She gives me an education on saddles, trees, treeless saddles, leather and about a hundred other things all while pulling a stack of them out of her car. We go back to the barn and she quickly swaps trees in about four saddles in fifteen minutes. Yep, the saddles I looked at all had adjustable trees so they can grow with the pony. Exciting.
I can't believe I forgot to take pictures of most of the experience. There was a saddle that I was IN LOVE with because of how fancy it was. Plus, Dawn said that it really held you in place on the horse when they spooked. And it was a handmade, custom saddle. So. Pretty. It had red piping around the seat and the cantle. It was so freaking cool. However, it wasn't as comfortable for me and my trainer said it made the pony looked more sway back than she is. Boo for fancy saddle not looking good. Yeah for going down in price!
So- the current front runner is this. It's a Kent and Master's dressage saddle. It was comfortable and when the pony put in some bucks it felt great. Even cooler? Dawn is going out of town and offered to leave the saddle for me to ride in during my lessons for the next two weeks! What???!!! Amazing. I practically threw my Klimke-Miller at her saying "Take care of this would you?" while I drooled over my saddle-to-be.
If it works, I will need to figure out financing since this saddle is $1700. Luckily, I've already got a girth, irons and pads so it will JUST be the saddle. Also, when I buy through Dawn, she comes back out three months later to make sure everything fits. I'm really sold on her service and her knowledge. I know that no matter what saddle I buy, she will make sure that it fits me and my pony and that we are happy with it. And that is worth it's weight in gold right there.
On a training note, today was the best training day ever. Tessa didn't have a choice but to be patient. She was out from 11-2:30 being fussed with. Girthiness? Oh, yeah. She was a real bear the first three saddles. But saddles 4-8 she fussed a whole lot less. And by the time we got to the girthing up all six on the lunge she only wrinkled her nose. When it came time to ride in the four chosen saddles, she didn't even bat an eyelash. Same thing with the mounting block. First saddle? She wanted to walk off? The last three AND the second ride in the first saddle? She just stood there. It was a good reminder that with a little extra time and an agenda that doesn't involve much, I can teach her so much more. She wasn't ridden or worked hard today, but boy was she ready for a nap when I put her back in a stall.