Saddles page 3
Long Rider Comments
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|I had a problem with my horse
who had a sensitive area along the rear part of her spine, so I had to
change my conventional multi-purpose saddle. Also as my horse is a mare
she is relatively long, I am relatively heavy (85 kg) for the horse
(450 kg) so a relatively long saddle would help to better distribute my
weight. So I tried around 10 saddles and found the following:
Spanish saddles: funny, but difficult to get used to; traditional saddles for dressage etc: very short, at the rear too low: Western saddles were not useable, due to the fact that the rear end is even and applies weight pressure to the spine; old German military saddles: excellent, but old (1945) requiring excessive repair.
Finally I bought a used long distance travelling saddle, which is long, no pressure at all along the spine, and with plenty of hooks and a "fender" allows to attach heaps of equipment. Drawback: a new one is expensive at around US$2500. The manufacturer is an Italian firm called "Prestige", type "Trekker".
saddle and pack saddle from
Good points :
Robust - Good padding - Efficient cinch/girth - Good quality leather - The pack saddle is light and the tree is well shaped - Good clearance around the withers - I love the new material of the tree
Weak points :
From a global point of view, it is too big for horses from some parts of the world such as Africa, Mongolia, China - I had to resort to such stratagems as rearranging the saddle blankets to fill in the holes - Another major fault in my view is the weight of the saddle. When you are carrying a lot of equipment, you really want everything to be as light as possible for the sake of the horse - the screws on the points where you can attach your gear are not strong enough to stand up to any kind of unexpected behaviour on the part of the horses.
|Because I have three horses, I
ought to have an adjustable saddle, but I have never found one.
Instead, I use a thick saddle-pad. I slide a foam pad into a Mexican
blanket which I have sewn together on two sides. That enables me to
turn it round four times before all sides are dirty.
|After travelling for years
using an English saddle, a Western saddle, and a McClellan saddle, I have
found an excellent compromise between the three types with a saddle from Hugues
Petel, a craftsman-saddler in France. I have found it excellent
and fits my mare perfectly. It is as comfortable as a Western saddle
but much lighter, and the tree and the pommel are made so as to fit horses
with different shapes and sizes. My mare got some saddle-sores last
year from a very famous French saddle (which I prefer not to name), even
though it was carefully fitted.
I am still trying to find the perfect saddle-blanket! It needs to be long-lasting and comfortable, it must not slide, it should dry rapidly, be very light, etc. etc.
|Horse Sensor Service, a German
company (Reitsport Saßenberg,
15831 Diepensee, Telephone (49) 33762-68011)
has a saddle-pad which enables you to measure the pressure on the horse's
back. It is possible to record all the variations of pressure
without being tied down by wires. This has been used in Germany for
more than fifteen years to check out made-to-measure saddles. From
their trials it is now known that only 15% of saddles currently in
use actually fit the backs of the horses! That is to say, at one
point or another the pressure is greater than the maximum allowable to
avoid saddle sores!!
I have a record of many of their results and documentation presented in the course of Symposia in Germany - even with German army saddles from the second world war
I think that for American horseman the problem is not so great because of the greater surface of the Western saddle and the morphology of the Quarter Horse.
In my opinion it is necessary to study saddle and to distinguish between 1) treeless saddles, 2) saddles with a more or less supple tree, 3) saddles where the tree is flexible, 4) saddles with adjustable trees, and 5) saddles with rigid trees. This is a huge subject!
|The one thing I would not ride
any horse without is a Keith Bryant saddle. They are tailor-made to
the horse and rider and you can ride them for hours without getting
stiff. Even a veteran like myself. They come with strong Ds in
every conceivable place. They are called "Pathfinder"
saddles, and he is Keith Bryant, Saddler, 13a Lime Street, Walsall, WS1
2JL, Great Britain. Telephone (44) 1922 628325.
The Griffin high wither numnah (saddle-pad). Using this and my saddle I have never had as much as a bump on my horse's back.
The saddle rolls can be made of single or double NZ rug canvas with straps, about 28" long by 6" in diameter. Or they could be made bigger of course. They are tough enough to survive any trip and cost about 30 GBP each. They are made by G M Daly, harness maker, Round House, Stetchworth Ley, Newmarket, CB8 9TX, Great Britain. Tel: (44) 1638 730950. My saddle bags were "home made" which consisted of two ex-army rucksacks which I had joined together with NZ canvas with an oval slit across the top. They could be slung over the cantle of an English saddle. This saved any pressure on the horse's back. Cheap but for short trips worked well.
The not so young Long Rider starts getting knee problems. These can be helped by stirrups made by the Port Lewis Workshop, POB 705, Chateaugay, NY 12920 Tel: (1) 450 264 3421. Fax: 450 264 8157. Their website is www.rocler.qc.ca/portlewis They are really brilliant. I did wonder after tearing the ligament off my knee on a recent horse trip in Turkmenistan whether I would ever do a Long Ride again but I find I can now ride all day with few problems.
Supracor Saddle Blankets - These blankets come in several styles and colors. I use the endurance style, which fits under my Australian saddle very nicely, and Jim uses a western pad.
Saddle pads are one of the biggest problems I have with my horse Max. They are always slipping back from underneath the saddle and are a real problem. I have tried all kinds of pads and nothing seemed to work. I have been using the Supracor endurance pad for two years now and I couldn’t be happier. When I first put this black shiny pad on my horse I was really wondering how this was going to work. Well I can honestly tell you that I haven’t been disappointed once. After hours of riding up and down hills it stays right where I placed it when I tacked Max up that morning. While riding in the hot Arizona sun Max’s back stayed cool! It was just amazing. Even more amazing was that the hot spots that had occurred under his saddle (even after buying a new saddle) had gone. In addition, he has never once has had a sore back with the Supracor pad.
What can we say? We just couldn’t believe all the advantages of this pad. We don’t tack Max up without it. If you ride a lot and want the best for your horse….you may want to look into a Supracor Saddle Pad. We have not been disappointed! It is one of the best investments we have made for our horses and ourselves. www.supracor.com
The best supplier for our trail riding and packing equipment has been “Outfitter Supply” out of Columbia Falls, Montana. Russ Barnett, President of “Outfitter Supply” carries all the products that you could ever need. One of our favorites is his “Trail Max” Saddle Bag System. These saddle bags are great for those people who want to carry their “extras” when packing-in and they are also great for those long days of trail riding. The cordura bags are insulated, durable, lightweight and roomy. The total system includes: large insulated saddle bags, a spacious cantle bag and the horn bag which is big enough for our lunch, water bottles and much more. www.outfitterssupply.com
Janine and Jim Wilder
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