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Friday, October 22, 2010

A New Connection

My focus today was riding Farley forward to the connection. How much of her (very little) forward have I been inhibiting by thinking "pull" rather than "push"? The elastic, seeking connection is wonderful and mind boggling difficult to describe. When I'm riding with the correct connection, I feel as if I have an immense responsibility - Farley is giving me a gift by going forward to the connection. It is my job (nay, privilege) to keep that connection kind, soft, and steady. A difficult task indeed for this training level rider who is still coordinating aids, position, rhythm, and balance amid a myriad of other tasks.....

Even though I continue to love and adore my Solstice for trail and endurance work, I found myself choosing to practice dressage bareback more and more. Unconsciously I was fighting to maintain a good position in it for dressage. A couple of weeks ago I decided to start looking for an inexpensive saddle we could use for dressage, and would be a good back up saddle (I only had one saddle for Farley, and if it needed repairs or a reflocking I would be without one). I'm not a fan of Wintecs, however I had ridden in the Isabell that my trainer owned and it was a decent fit for us both and put me in a good position. It's possible to find a good deal on these with a bit of patience and effort. I found one local and made arrangements to pick it up 2 weeks ago.

So far I'm very happy. I wouldn't have paid for a new one, but used it is worth what I paid for it. The seller was kind enough to send it along with two sets of leathers and a girth (and a cup of hot cider!) which sweetened the deal even more. I wouldn't use it as a primary endurance saddle, but is definitely comfy enough to do a fairly flat and less technical ride.

I like having 2 saddles to rotate through. The Solstice is not a perfect fit for her, but is perfectly acceptable for now - especially if I can ride in a different saddle for the dressage to avoid have pressure in the same points every day.

It's hard to review and recommend saddles because everyone's personal preferences are so different. However, if you are looking for a relatively cheap, low maintenance saddle to do your dressage in, I would recommend you consider a used Isabell. I've heard that the other Wintec dressage models ride very differently. They are also discontinuing the current version of the Isabell and updating it. As with running shoes, an update can be good or bad.....and since I knew the "old" version would be sufficient, that was one more motivation for me to try and find one now, versus waiting a few years.

Does any here rotate through 2 or more saddles regularly? I remember when I had Minx, I rotated through a Thorowgood dressage saddle, and a 1860's McClellan.


  1. I also had never been a big fan of Wintec's or other synthetic saddles. I was especially leery of the air panels. However, after trying a Wintec AP with air panels, I have to say that I really did like the fit. It was a bit squeaky for my liking, but it fit me and the horse very well.

  2. I have an Isabell w/ CAIR panels and I really appreciate the ability to change the gullet width, because I go back and forth with different horses. I like it better than the Thorowgood, for me.

  3. My primary saddle is an Albion dressage. I love it!
    I purchased a used Wintec jumping pro saddle last year to add a change of pace to my horse's training. The saddle is surprisingly comfortable and feels secure for jumping. My horse likes the CAIR panels. It took me a while to figure out which gullet size to use. The gullet choices seem to run smaller than other saddles, especially compared to the Albion. I tried a Wintec dressage saddle with CAIR, and found that my horse was uncomfortable after a couple rides. Oddly, the channel was narrower than the jumping pro and the panels were flatter. Like any other saddle, Wintecs, Thorowgoods, and the like still need a test ride!

  4. Interestingly enough, I have four saddles and use only one! I picked up a used Wintec "endurance" saddle (looks like an english saddle but has extra D-rings) and rode in it (on the Toad) for a while. It fit him fine but put my feet too far forward, which made my tendency to bend forward at the waist even worse. I have it still, if anybody's interested I'll make ya a deal.

    I also have an OLD (50+ years) Stubben given to me by a friend. In our house, it is artwork. It doesn't fit either horse, but I'll never sell it.

    I ride endurance AND dressage in my Specialized (we have one for each horse). It fits the horse (and can be adjusted to fit her even when her body changes shape from winter hair or summer fat!), and puts me in a very balanced dressage position. I *love* this saddle.

  5. I'm not a fan of the Isabell, personally, but I do have a Dressage Pro that I am selling. It served its purpose and is a comfortable, balanced saddle. We have found, though, they don't stand up to SERIOUS training, they are fine for the pleasure rider though.

  6. If you are doing your dressage bareback and liking it and the feel you get, try a Courbette Charles de Kunffy. Closest thing to bareback, great contact and feel. Try eBay!


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