Well, yesterday I felt like I was in a horsey dressing room, where Snickers tried out outfit after outfit that just didn't work for him. The tack shop just up the street from Phantasy Arabians, where Snickers is, carries Abetta saddles in various sizes and styles. I spent most of yesterday running back and forth trying first the Arabian tree, then the wide quarter horse tree, and finally the regular quarter horse tree and none of them fit. The Arabian and the wide quarter horse ones were the worst, with the part under the pommel pressing into his shoulder a ton! The regular was close, but it still put pressure there. Noel, the trainer, suggested a semi quarter horse tree, but they didn't have any. I was feeling pretty hopeless at that point because I just didn't know what I was going to do about getting a saddle that would work for Snickers and wouldn't hurt him, but also one that fit me and my budget :(
Today ended up pretty positive, though. I stopped by the tack shop on my way to see Snickers and Shelley, the lady that had been helping me before (I guess we actually met when I first went and met Snickers so she knew him and Barb, the owner/breeder), walked me through some of my options for saddles and what I was looking for. She brainstormed a couple of ideas and got me to open up to the possibility of using an English saddle they had there for $75 because it looked like it might fit. I guess the English saddlemy family has is a TERRIBLE fit for me, but she had me sit in this one and it seemed all right... So she loaded me up with that and an Abetta saddle with a gaited tree. I went and got Snickers ready and lunged him a bit with the English saddle, and it looked completely wrong and I guessed it was probably my fault because I really had no idea what I was doing saddling him up. She adjusted it and showed me how to saddle him up - I would have never guessed the saddle needed to go so far back behind his shoulder! She told me to take a mental picture when she was done so I could do it myself - I whipped out my camera/camcorder and took a real (digital) picture haha. Glad I had it with me! The gaited saddle seemed to fit him pretty well, too, so she left it there so I could try it ut and even measured his back so she could take a second look at those other saddles to make a recommendation for what would work with him.
After that, she left, and I took Snickers back out to the round pen and lunged him again. Then I tied him and put the bridle on! He was so good - see the last post :) I didn't have to work with the clicker or warm him up to it or anything, I just put it right on! And I received a nice surprise when we rode - he's very soft and dropped his head almost immediately. The English saddle isn't half bad, turns out, with a much more curved seat and I feel pretty secure. I fact, he spooked a few times and I didn't go anywhere! And they weren't just little spooks. The good thing is he gets his head right back when he spooks and knows the "w" word - he even stopped when I was lunging him and he spooked. I think I'm fairly confident in this saddle. I'd still prefer a western Abetta, but I'll save up over the year and get one next year, one that is exactly what I want and wil ride in forever. Shelley is going to let me know which saddles she thinks would fit him best, so I can keep those in mind when I'm ready to drop a little more cash for a saddle. For $75, I think I'm getting a pretty good deal :) I'm still going to sell my piano and western saddle (what's the point of having it if it doesn't fit my horses? And I have no idea what is going to fit Flash when he's ready for it!) though I'll probably use a good amount of that money for the rest of my tack, like a girth strap, saddle pad, bridle, hoof boots, heart monitor, gps, etc. Which I need all those anyway, so if this saddle will work, and new Abettas will always be available when I have a bit more money, then why not save a couple hundred dollars and make sure I have everything that just a few hiqher quality pieces of what I need.
Anyway, he was really good under that saddle and I manage to sit the trot and not get unseated for almost the entire time. There is a bit that rubs on the inside of my thigh, but I could probably fix that with a pad or something on the seat. I'll ask about that when I stop by the tack shop and (probably) buy the saddle. Oh, I forgot to mention Shelly is an endurance rider, so she seems to know what she's talking about when it comes to what I need and should consider. I didn't end up riding him in the Abetta western gaited saddle, so I didn't lope him either - I didn't want to try it for the first time with a new saddle I'm not used to on a horse I barely know in an environment where I don't know what could/will happen. I'll hold off until I can get a western saddle I'm used to on him and figure out how he feels, then try it out in the English saddle. By the time I was done riding in the English saddle, I only had about 45 minutes left and he'd done so well for the first time I'd ridden him in a bridle and bit, I didn't want to push it just so I could try out the Abetta and also ask him to lope for the first time.
Anyway, so overall a good day! I'm excited to get him back home and start working with him. I don't think I'll get to see him until Sunday, when Barb plans on bringing him over. I have to feed the horses all next week while Jill is out of town, so I'll get to work with him every day. Yay! Hopefully I can get him to be a little less spooky with fewer things going on around him (like people getting bedding with the big scary squeaky wheel barrow and the shovel, the chickens and geese that were going to eat him, Barb sneaking up on him, etc.). Plus, I'll get the chance to sack him out. Things are looking really good!