Is it possible that it was just four months ago that I posted about saddle searching in earnest? It feels like a lifetime. I had been tentatively searching for a little while before that. And I finally found one!
I spent the first few months of my search doing a lot of research while I waited for my old saddle to sell. Like, a LOT of research. There are a lot of opinions out there, folks.
But I knew my criteria:
- Wool flocking, if at all possible
- Knee and thigh blocks
- Fits both of us (duh)
- Narrow twist, probably
I read a lot and joined some tack trading groups on Facebook, then commenced drooling over many saddles that were way out of my price range.
Eventually the time came to start doing trials. I tried a Pessoa first and really liked it but it was a couple sizes too small for me, so I started hunting for a larger size. The only thing was that it was foam rather than wool flocking.
I also tried an Ovation saddle, which I really wanted to like, but it was an atrocious fit on Drifter. I rode in an M. Toulouse, which was a nice saddle but put me in a chair seat. I lasted about 8 seconds in the HDR I tried; four walk strides in and I was just like, nope. That was how I figured out that a narrow twist was a must, not a “probably.” I felt like I was sitting on a table.
About this time I was starting to feel like my eyeballs were going to fall out of my skull from scrolling through saddle after saddle after saddle online. The local tack consignment store had nothing in the right size.
And then I found a lovely woman named Stacy. She is a saddle fitter and does equine massage/bodywork, and also happens to consign saddles. And she happens to be local to my area. Score. She had a Thornhill Pro in my size and we met up so I could try it. She also had some excellent recommendations for other brands to look for if I didn’t like this one, based on the things I told her I was looking for.
Unfortunately that saddle didn’t work out, but almost immediately the one she had recommended popped up on a tack trading Facebook group: A Thornhill Germania Phase II. It was my size, Drifter’s size, wool flocked, had knee and thigh blocks and – here’s the kicker – the woman who owned it happened to be driving to my area for a family event over the weekend!
It was with fingers and toes crossed that I brought it up to the barn to try on Drifter. And it got the stamp of approval!
Did I mention that it was also approximately 1/3 the price that I was willing to spend, and so new the billets are barely worn?
I am so happy that my saddle search is over. It is a painful, painful process. I will say, however, that for all the unhelpful people I came across, I found at least one incredibly helpful person who was willing to give advice, extend a trial, go take measurements, and so on. It seems like saddle shopping should be a much smoother and easier process.
I will also offer this encouragement to anyone looking for a saddle right now: Know what you’re willing to sacrifice, and what you’re not. Be diligent. Keep trying and don’t lose faith. Your saddle is out there.