A Saddle Fit for a Para Dressage Queen

Saddle 1I was recently the recipient of a very special gift! Schleese Saddlery company gave away 30 saddles this year for their 30th Anniversary. I was the recipient of one of their fabulous Schleese Infinity saddles. On March 17, Manny and I had our fitting with Natalie Sauner who is a Saddlefit Technician. I am beyond grateful to have received such an incredible gift!

So, this is how it all went down!

My mom and I went out early on the 17th to get Manny organized for the fitting. Now, usually I go out with Britney and she lunges Manny, then I do my thing with him. With her, when she lunges him, he can be a little bit saucy. Especially when I haven’t gone out in a while. Well, this was the case. I wasn’t able to go work with Manny for a week prior and Britney was unavailable. That night, I was already thinking, “K, I have to lunge Manny right off the bat, on my own!” I haven’t lunged him on a lunge line before without getting some of his energy out first  I was a bit nervous! So I texted Sally and asked if Manny was back on his hemp oil (he’s a nut without it) and she said he was. That eased my mind a bit! #yayforhemp

When we got to Sally’s, mom went to get Manny. He was way on the other end of his paddock. What happened next was pretty neat. Mom went in the paddock and asked Manny to come because it was a bit mucky and he came and put his head in his halter and was ready to work!

We got to the arena, mom handed me Manny and shut the door. I held him and got my lovin’ in while she took off his blanket. Next it was time to lunge him. I asked mom to get the lunge line and a whip and come with me. We hooked up the lunge line and were set! I held the line while she held the whip (#teamwork) and Manny just stood there, like he was saying “what?”. Such a dork! I asked mom to flick the whip and he was off! I started just walking him going to the left and mom backed out of the circle and we were on our own once again! I asked for trot, he trotted. I asked for whoa, he stopped. I still think this is the coolest thing ever! As I was lunging him, the door opened for Natalie to bring her gear in. Manny was trotting nice and when the door opened, I’m thinking “don’t freak, don’t bolt, and DON’T canter!” and he just looked at the door, pulled a tiny bit, but he kept trotting! That was HUGE!

I figured Manny had a good warm up, so I started to bring him in so we could groom him. I need to find an easier way to bring back in the lunge line. Manny walks to big!

I held the lead rope as mom groomed him and Natalie started measuring him for the saddle. Nicola clipped his bridle path for me so that was done (thanks Nicola!). I asked mom to comb he’s mane and tail. He looked pretty good after! Well, as clean as a grey horse could get without a bath! He looked pretty spiffy!

While we were doing this, Natalie put our gorgeous new saddle on! As soon as she did, I heard angels singing! It’s fancy! It fit him like a glove! Then, it was time for me to try out our saddle!

Jill and Nicola lined Manny up and mom helped me climb up the mounting block. It was a little hard to get on as the saddle has a high cantle but that’s what I love about it! I don’t move in that thing!

Once I was on, we tied my arm down and away we went! Jill walked with us for a bit, then we were on our own.

We started with no thigh blocks then quickly realized I still need them. Natalie brought 3 saddle 4sizes. I have a bigger one on the right side and a smaller one on the left to help my legs stay in place and not come up when they spasm. The good thing is, that they are not stuck in one place. So if needed, we can adjust them to where I need them! We are going to put marks on my saddle where the blocks have been so we don’t go to the same place twice. Manny was such a star that day. There was so much going on and yet he stayed focused on his job, wasn’t hot, he was calm, very relaxed, and took care of me like always!

At PARDS, I would drop the reins and just let him walk around the arena. In the 7 months that I’ve owned him, I have yet to do this. I have no idea why. Now that I had a secure saddle, I decided to do it. I dropped the reins and Manny just kept on walking! Love it!

Then it was time to try my saddle at a trot to see if we needed any adjustments. My body moves funny at a trot. My right leg tightens up and gets higher and higher in the saddle. I’m so thankful that Manny knows not to listen to my right leg except for turning!   Jill waited for me half way down the long side (just in case). When you ask Manny to trot, he kind of hops into it. It throws me of balance every time. So I’m going into the trot already unsteady and unbalanced. Well! In this saddle, it is so much easier! The higher cantle gives me the extra support I need to sit his big trot. It’s like I’m sitting on a couch! I don’t move!

After this, it was time to dismount. I tried to dismount on my own, I leaned forward to hug Manny but I couldn’t get my right leg over the back! Not because I couldn’t flip my leg over, but on the inside of my left knee arena pulled so bad! So, we dismounted like we did when I was little! I flipped my right leg over Manny’s neck and sat sideways on the saddle and mom helped me side down. Manny was cool with that too!

All in all, it was a fabulous day! And how did we end this amazing day? With a Corona of course!

Huge thank you to Schleese for this incredible gift and all the people who made this happen!

saddle 5

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