October 4, 2004

Trooper saddle

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Isis is not a dainty mare. She is built like a tank; something inherited from her Crabbet breeding. Her sire takes a regular tree, as did her mother. Isis has to do everything in a special manner, and that means she is difficult to fit with a saddle.

At the tack shop the other day, I picked up a trooper saddle made by M&W Saddlerly here in Tennessee. The tree had the just about the widest one I’d seen. The seat was wonderfully comfortable. If you’ve ever sat in saddles, you know what it’s like when your tush says “aaahhh!”

The saddle itself was more than I’d wanted to pay. However, it was very comfortable and if it fit would have been a great saddle for trail riding. Key words: If it fit.

Which, of course, it didn’t. Without the saddle pad, it seemed to fit on her back relatively well. Except it was too long when properly cinched. She had maybe an inch from the end of the saddle to her hips. Not quite enough to be able to get her legs underneath her and really move. Surprisingly, the saddle was also too long for my gelding, who is two inches taller than Isis and longer in the back.

I tried it on her and just sat on it. We took a step or two to see how it felt, and then I dismounted. The trooper saddle is rather like a cross between a McClelland (cavalry saddle) and an Australian stock saddle. The seat feels suspended in this saddle — good for distributing weight over the horse’s back, not good for feeling close and connected when riding. It was disappointing, and I wasn’t sure.

However, for that amount of money, I wasn’t going to keep the saddle if I had any doubt. It looked too long for her and also seemed to not quite fit her back. The whithers seemed okay, but her shoulders didn’t quite have free movement.

It was a relief to return the saddle. It’s still an incredibly comfortable saddle. Someone will have a happy tush after hours of trail riding.

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