It was windy the day the butt-fugly treeless endurance saddle arrived. This meant that test-riding it on Pearl (see Figure 1), my recently recommissioned Arabian endurance prospect, would be out of the question. Pearl objects on principle to wind, and, of late, to saddles.
Yes, it has dawned on me that these contingencies might be construed as drawbacks as pertains to our efforts on the endurance trail. One thing at a time.
Windy or no, the saddle was so homely I thought I’d better slap it on her for a minute or two, just to assess the level of Truth-and-Beauty-associated lobe-pain I could expect it to inflict. After chasing Pearl around the paddock for the usual 15 minutes, I finally caught her and chucked it on her back. I stepped away to drink it in.
I regret that there is no photo depicting the degree to which this big honkin’ saddle seemed to swallow up the diminutive Pearl. The spectacle was so disturbing that I could barely suppress a gag. The saddle is large and shapeless, and Pearl is tiny and refined. She was snorting, swinging her hind end around, and trying to bite it. She looked like she was being attacked by some sort of massive, netherworldly pterodactyl.
Let me just mention, a propos of Pearl’s obnoxious antics, that this 12-year-old horse was fully broke when I promoted her to pet status 3 years ago. Western pleasure, dressage, jumping (OK, she mostly jumped fence-post shadows when I least expected it, but still, A for effort, you know?). What I’m getting at is, it’s not like she’s a green-ass filly. She really is just that petulant.
I’m no saddle fitter, but it did appear, during those few moments, that the standard-equipment gullet was a bit narrow for her. This brand of saddle, the so-called Barefoot Cheyenne (not the name I would have chosen. I don’t like feet. And bare feet? In conjunction with a questionably non-PC Native American tribal name-drop? Shoot me now.) has an interchangeable gullet system. If the perpetual gale-force winds ever die down, I’m gonna try her in a wide.
Meanwhile, I really wanted to sit in this thing. It’s reputedly as comfortable as a Barcolounger. Toward this end I recruited my bloomy hunter, Ginger Rogers, who doesn’t give a flip about either wind or saddles.
It turns out Ginger Rogers has put on a couple of pounds. It took me half an hour to hunt up a girth that would actually fit her (my trunk of dressage girths was buried under my trunk of stirrup leathers, reins, and bits, which was buried under a pile of stable blankets, which was concealed under a thick coating of dust and brown recluses in the back of the garage), but eventually I met with success. Behold the result in my Craigslist-calibre photo (“Butiful 4-year old sorel mare I didn’t register her due to family illness byt she’s the great-great grandauter of Seattle Slew and Poco Bueno, clips, baths, my grandauter rides her over bobwar fences without a helmet, in foal to our blue roan cremello stud, would make a great reining and jumping and team penning prospect, hate to sell her but I have to many, $250 OBO, serious only, no trailer no cash no show.”).
Crikey, is she really that fat? The camera adds 400 pounds, right?
Well, I took old G for a spin in that Barefoot Cheyenne (after adjusting it forward just a hair), and what the heck! That crazy-ass thing really is comfy. I mean, it has no twist at all, so I don’t know how long I’d actually last in it before the sensation of doing the splits would become overwhelming, but for half an hour it was pretty OK. Ginger Rogers seemed to like it, too. I hesitate to admit it, but it would appear that this $600 treeless contraption fits her better than her $5000 PJ. So we’re gonna keep it, if only for those moments when we’d both rather be wearing sweatpants.