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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Solstice really is the perfect saddle

By some miracle I find myself with about 30 minutes of free time, with no school stuff to review, study, or prepare, and without my notes for the next installment of our acid base discussion. 

Which means you get a quick personal update instead. 

I sat in a Solstice saddle for the first time since I sold mine 2 years ago....and realized why I never had problems with it and why all the other saddles I have tried to date have. 

If I’m being completely honest, it was really emotional to sit in that solstice and realize that it WAS and STILL IS possible for me to do long rides without pain, and it was no longer a mystery of why that Solstice worked so well for me.

You know that saying that sometimes you don’t know how good you had it until you lose it?  Yeah.......

When I bought my Solstice, it was sight unseen. I had done my research, decided that I wanted a Solstice. Found one in my price range, bought it, put it on my horse and rode Tevis 4 weeks later in it, which was my first 100. Continued to ride 100’s in it successfully with no issues with my or my horse that were saddle related, until I sold it to help pay for a car when I started vet school.

That was the extent of my great saddle hunt. 

I laughed at all those posts and those people who bought saddle after saddle only to not have it work for them or the horse. 

I didn’t have any qualms about selling it because, based on my experience, it wasn’t really THAT hard to find a saddle that was going to work for me and Farley.

I’ve never sat in a bunch of different saddles before, so what I didn’t realize was how differently the flap on the Solstice was constructed compared to other saddle options......

Fast forward to now.  I’ve had debilitating knee pain for the last 5 rides I’ve done.  I won the RnT scholarship and have decided to devote the award to buying a saddle. 

I’ve been sitting in a LOT of saddles.  Every saddle that I think might work for endurance - but none of them actually felt right. 

Then, at the last saddle shop I went to I saw a Solstice on the wall.

Honestly, I wasn’t even going to try it.  It was the wrong width for my horse and the leather wasn’t in the best condition, and so I knew it wasn’t one I was interested in, and since I already knew what they felt like, I almost didn’t take it off the rack.

But then, after trying (not exaggerating) every single other endurance suitable saddle in the store, I decided to take it down and see how it felt.

I kid you not, sitting in that saddle put tears in my eyes.

It was like slipping into the embrace of your dearest friend. 

It was the perfect twist and the perfect rise.

And more importantly - the knee roll and flap does not start to gain thickness until it is completely PAST my knee cap.  It’s totally flat under my knee and in no way displaces my knee or leg outward.

THAT is the difference between the Solstice and every other saddle I’ve tried. There’s still support for my knee and leg, but it’s there without displacing my knee - which apparently my IT bands cannot handle at ALL. 

The actual shape of the flap is a perfect fit for my funky short-but-with-abnormally-long-femur legs.  My leg is most comfy in a more straight up and down “dressage” position for my upper leg, which puts my leg and knee really behind where it feels like it should be in an AP style saddle.

Most of the western style endurance saddles have a twist that’s too wide.  Every single English style saddle had a flap that started increasing in thickness way before the actual knee roll. 

I had wondered whether my recollections of my Solstice were by the benefit of rosey colored “hindsight” glasses, but it was such a relief that it was just as I remembered.  

I’ve already contacted the person I sold my Solstice to, to see if it was up for sale again, but she loves it.  Which I’m totally OK with - I would be happier in a slightly larger seat anyways. 

So, I’m on the lookout for a 17.5” medium width solstice. I don’t care about color, billet length etc. I have a $1000 to spend.  Let me know if you can help :).

As for the rest of my life? 

School is going GREAT.  I think I was made to do Herd management and health.  It just “clicks” so much better for me than individual animal focus.  I’ve given up trying to predict where my career is going to go, and whatever happens, rest assured equine exercise physiology will remain a passion and whether or not I’m getting paid for it, I’ll continue to write articles that only obsessive horse people could enjoy. 

Tess is fat.  I had one side of the equation figured out - I hadn’t been running as regularly, and because of the heat she wasn’t invited on my conditioning rides.  However, I was confused on the “intake” side because she hadn’t been eating her kibble. 

I had a suspicion she was reducing the small rodent population on our property.

But, in addition to reinstating the standing invitation to go on rides and runs with me, I duely reduced her kibble.

Tess was.....not happy.  She was diving into her food again, which made ME happy (Tess is a labrador in disguise), but I got confirmation last night that Tess fully embraces the notion of being fat and has no intentions of going on a diet.

It’s one thing to therotically know that your dog is most likely crunching little rodents into little rodent bits. It’s quite another thing to actually dig a half eaten gopher out of her mouth (and stepping on random gopher parts BAREFOOT, in the DARK, in the GRASS) .  EWWWWWWWWWW.

(I have to admit I shrieked for Matt to get me a flashlight and refused to move until my path through the grass was FULLY illuminated from where I was, to the porch).

I’m slated to move, AGAIN.  Probably sometime mid-September.  I’ll keep you’all posted. The good news is that I’ll be 5 miles from my horse, 1 mile from the dog park in the area, and less than a mile from the levee/river bottoms for days I want to run in nature with my dog off leash, but don’t want to take the horse along.  It’s a good move. Still doesn’t get me close enough to campus to satisfy the “within 30 min” rule for clinics, but that’s what campers and backs of trucks are for right?????????  (mom and dad - if you are reading this, I’ll notify you of moving plans when they are official, they are processing our application now).

Off to class!


  1. I am in love with the ASC saddles. I've sat in a Rubicon in a store, and this past weekend, rode in an ASC Sylvan. SOOOOO comfortable and secure. Sitting in one of those saddles just feels like coming home.

  2. I was wondering how things were going.

  3. I totally agree on the saddle. I love my Solstice. Major has a few fit issues with it, so I keep trying other things, but nothing we've both been happy with. Closest in feel is surprisingly a Freeform. I only have the Classic and would like to try the dressage model.

    I'll keep an eye out for you, saddle shopping is frustrating, even when you know what you want!

  4. I had a similar experience with an L&R saddle. It was an older model that I tried on my horse when he was a three year old. It was too wide for him, but it felt like home when I sat in it. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to buy it and keep it "just in case" it would fit him someday. So, I've been longing for it for the last 7 years. The saddles I've ridden in since then have been OK, but I've never forgotten the way that saddle felt and I am kicking myself for not finding a way to keep it because I'm sure it would fit Nimo now and it was only $800. Gaaa! I think the ASC just makes great saddles, and I'm hoping that someday soon I can afford to get one. And now that you've mentioned the Solstice, I'm going to add that one to my short list of models to try. I'll definitely let you know if I see one in your size!


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