I had to wait a couple of days to finish what I started to tell you about a couple posts back...Had to find out how to fix a problem I was having and then set about getting things right.
When I was on the way home from Evergreen, I got a picture sent to me of my run in Cripple Creek and see that once again I am down in the well in the turn...
I remembered a conversation I had had with my neighbor (a real pro barrel racer) earlier this year. We were actually talking bits and she said that she had switched her horse to a different bit and really liked how he was running, but that she was getting down in the well in her turns and it was costing her. Thinking about that, I had to call her up to see what she had done to fix that particular problem.
Her solution was to buy a different saddle. One a 1/2" smaller than the one she had been running in. She invited me over to try her new saddle on Moon and to take it for a spin. Amazingly enough, her saddle fit over Moon's shoulders extremely well. That is always the hardest part about trying to find a saddle that *I* like...it's hard as heck to find anything newer that has an 8" gullet. Moon is not a particularly wide horse, it's just that his shoulders are not what you would call...laid in, very well. I ride the saddle I ride because it fits Moon and the size is good enough for me.
Well, after riding my neighbor's saddle, I realized that 'good enough' isn't cutting it. I have an appropriately sized saddle, there are just a couple of tiny differences that are causing me problems. Compared to the neighbor's saddle, my saddle has a very flat seat. That, coupled with smooth leather upper fenders is allowing me to slide all over in my saddle. You can see what I am talking about by looking at my header picture. See how Moon has me slung up against the swells?...And he isn't even turning...just setting into the barrel.
After taking Moon for a spin in the neighbor's saddle, I realized how much difference there was. However, $3,500 for a different saddle just is not in my budget at the moment. Believe me, I think it is a worthwhile investment...but not gonna happen just yet. So I got to thinking...
I had a couple of options;
#1-Take the saddle I use to the saddle repair guy I use and see if he could replace the smooth upper fenders with roughout to get rid of the slide and also add a little build up in the front of the seat to give me a little deeper pocket to sit in. I knew the seat part was doable. Didn't know if the fenders part was.
Come to find out, the upper fenders cannot be replaced. They are part of the entire seat of the saddle.
I had to resort to option #2-Get out the Sharon Camarillo saddle I bought a couple of years ago, that was just a tish too narrow for Moon and see if the saddle guy could shave an extra 1/4" out of the gullet. I got out the Sharon Camarillo saddle, which I have always loved, dusted it off and tried it on Moon again. I was really surprised to see that it actually is fitting over Moon's shoulders without pinching, so I decided to ride him in it for a couple of days and see how it went.
The problem is, the saddle wants to slip back just about 1" after Moon is working. That is not a lot, but just enough that it puts pressure right behind Moon's shoulder blades.
Instead of trying to explain everything to the saddle guy, I just loaded Moon, his pad and the saddle up and went over for a fitting.
What we decided is that nothing actually needs to be done to the saddle, we simply traced out the hollow spots behind Moon's shoulders and the saddle guy is going to cut shims out of a 1/4" felt pad and sew them on. That will keep the saddle from collapsing down and sliding back.
I hope that is the ticket because since I have been riding my Sharon Camarillo again, I realized just how much I love the way it fits ME! It is the saddle I ran Spooks in and I never had a problem with him...which may only have been due to the fact that Spooks was so much slower than Moon, but I am really hoping that this does the trick on Moon as well.
My neighbor said that little bit of slipping and sliding I was getting from the other saddle may very well have a lot to do with my timing issues as well. There is just no way to get/be consistent when every time your horse does something your struggling to stay balanced. *I* didn't realize how much I was struggling until I tried a couple of different saddles and now I am like, 'Geez, this feels soooo much better.' Not to mention, Moon is a VERY responsive horse. He could feel me sliding around up there, even though I was only vaguely aware of it and that very well may have a lot to do with some of his antics as well.
Anyway, these last couple of days have gone a lot better. We are working on some new exercises and if it takes me to the day one of us croaks...Moon and I are going to achieve softness t.o.g.e.t.h.e.r.!!