Thursday, May 28, 2009

Side Saddles: Cautionary Tale

Not all side saddles are equal. Recently, I was having Normandie fit for a side saddle and as my regular status indicated, we had some fit issues with the cantle area or lack of one. Basically it was packing down too much and would slide. Fitting takes time. In any case, I remember someone had mentioned a side saddle on consignment at a local saddle shop. So, Gail, Sue and I took a quick road trip to take a look at the saddle. This is the side saddle up for sale.

If you do not know anything about side saddles or assume that they are fitted like other saddles, then you need to find an expert before riding or fitting one. The pictured saddle is an example of a poorly crafted saddle. Things you can't see in the photo: The tree is twisted and slopes off to the off side, the center line is "off center". The finger billets on on the off side have a huge gap that would allow for the installation of an extra billet, the padding as typically found in most English saddles which makes up for the bars of a western, is practically non-existent and allows the saddle to dig into the horse's back. When a rider is sitting on the horse, their left seat bone is hanging off the side of the cantle. There is no saddle beneath them. This is a poorly made saddle by a maker that clearly doesn't know the first thing about side saddles. Ebayers beware.

Oh, did I mention that the balance girth points in the WRONG direction? It angles toward the back of the horse rather than toward the front. If I can obtain the pictures from Sue that we took, you will see what we're talking about.

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