Katai was scheduled for a massage at 10:00am and then the plan was for me to get to the barn around 3:00pm so that we could do a saddle fit appointment at 3:30. I got to the barn a little early, helped with turn in and then got Katai all groomed and ready to go.
We started out with Katai fully tacked up and the saddle fitter, who I'll call H, looked over my set up in detail, did tracings, and took some notes. I was pleased and she let me know that Katai LOVED her massage and was all relaxed and blinky and happy about the whole thing. That made me feel good and we were off to a good start.
Unfortunately that's where my happiness ended.
Let me preface this by saying that I'd prepared myself for every contingency. While I felt it was unlikely that my saddle was a horrible fit I was ready for everything from it just needing a flocking adjustment to needing to buy a new saddle or even being completely unable to ride in it because it fit so horribly. What I wasn't prepared for was to have my emotions played with.
|This pretty much captures our whole experience.|
Common sense has always been my friend so I started asking her about thing things above. Basically she said that no, Katai's back hadn't been sore during the massage, she couldn't flex the saddle in any way that was unusual, when she asked if I'd been hearing or feeling anything weird I let her know that I hadn't. She remained unconvinced and spent at least 10-15 minutes trying to (I felt) prove that my saddle was broken. What she was feeling were these two small metal lines that were unevenly long. Not unevenly placed but one was longer than the other. If I had to hazard a guess I would say that there was one line of solder that was longer then the other on the individually made tree. She also said that some of the stitching looked uneven and I agree but this is a handmade saddle and it's very, very, very slight. She finally decided that it was time to proceed so we tacked Katai up and she really examined everything both with me out of the saddle and with me in the saddle.
At this point I was already a little frustrated but was still hoping that H would have some advice. The problem was that I think I'd already lost a little trust in her because the idea that my tree was broken was so far out of left field that I had a tough time even beginning to entertain that idea.
Then, with me mounted up, she said that my saddle was beautiful but didn't fit my pony. Again, I felt a little crushed but was all ready for her to give me some ideas for what to look for in a saddle and some ideas for where to shop. Except when I started asking she hemmed and hawed over the saddle again for awhile and then started naming things that did fit. The shape of the tree, the shape of the panel, the length, the tree width, the flap, the billets, etc. all in the "fit" category and then she said that she didn't know what she would do differently. More hemming and hawing and then she felt around in the channel again, still sure that my saddle was broken in two and going to stab my pony's back, and said that she would change the width of the channel which was slightly too wide.
|Saddle fit picture I was encouraged to take to show the maker. Not quite sure what this will show him other than that my saddle fits? Although after the flocking was added it does look a little high in front...|
Bad news, she want's me to contact the company about a warrantee to see about having them fix my "broken tree" and "uneven stitching". At this point I was about ready to gouge my own eyes out so I tried a different tactic and asked her what the cost would be for her to work on it. Common sense again since I knew that shipping it back (even if it weren't ridiculous) would be at least 200 even if there were a warrantee (which there's not) and the maker didn't think I was completely batshit crazy (which I'm not). She said that it would be around $150 so I let her know that if I decided to go that way I'd want her to do it rather than shipping my only saddle back and forth (and making it even more likely that my tree might actually be broken). She still pushed that I should contact the company and send pictures. I wanted to ask what I would be taking pictures of exactly but figured that would be too snarky.
|but damn my pony is starting to look like a beefcake!|
|My phone a friend. Apparently I'm no the only one thinking it might be because it's hand-made|
I'm going to talk to L and see if she has any advice. H wants to put a front gusset in it as well and I can't even begin to imagine that that will help it fit since I thought those were more for narrow horses with big withers. I can always stand to learn something though :-)