With surprising alacrity, our new saddle has arrived!
I was crossing my fingers for it to be here in early August, but luckily it was done before the end of July and it was in my hot little hands shortly after my fitter received the shipment. I was SO excited to finally have it, and a little bit nervous that it wouldn't live up to my expectations. Buying custom can be such a gamble, and you hear horror stories of people spending thousands on saddles that end up not being right, or not fitting their horses, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit worried about that happening to me.
I really didn't need to worry - the saddle ended up being exactly what I hoped it would be: a combination of every feature that I loved in all of the saddles I had tried, with zero compromises. It's beautiful, and perfect, and I love it SO MUCH.
Dino was very clear that he liked the fit as well! Suddenly he had so much more mobility in his lumbar area and shoulder than he'd been demonstrating over the past month or so, and I'm so excited to re-build all of those correct muscles now that we have a saddle that really FITS! He was much more honest in the contact during our test ride than he had been recently, which was super encouraging to me - hopefully we just need to build lots of good experiences in our comfy new saddle to nip that contact-anxiety in the bud. Dino was also sweating in all the right places, showing the activation of the muscles in the base of his neck and the pushing muscles in his hind end.
It's so comfortable for me as well - It puts me right in that perfect pocket on my seatbones, my leg drapes down nicely, and I can better keep it AWAY from my pony, vs. in my jump saddle where my leg is pretty much on all the time.
Also it's gorgeous. The copper piping was a VERY GOOD CHOICE!
The only little tweak we need to make is moving the front billet from a center position to a point billet, which might take a bit of doing since the saddle maker was supposed to leave a little nylon strap for just such a modification, and said nylon strap is nowhere to be found. The saddle scooches forward onto Dino's shoulder just a bit once we're moving, and the point billet should help anchor it in place. Luckily my fitter is fully capable of doing the work herself, but we've got some back and forth to do with Frank Baines before we decide exactly how to go about fixing it. We're both hoping the strap is just hidden waaaaay up inside the panel!
|A non-slip pad is helping the movement for now until we can get that billet fixed!|
Overall, I'm very pleased with the entire experience. From my fitter's expertise and knowledge of fit, equine and human biomechanics, and intimate familiarity with the Frank Baines line, to the ease of ordering and very reasonable timeframe from order to delivery, to the finished product, the whole process of designing, ordering, and receiving a custom saddle was really quite painless. I've heard countless horror stories about trying to get custom saddles made and fit properly, and I can honestly say I've experienced none of that with Frank Baines. Aside from the billet issue, the entire process has been seamless. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go ride in my new saddle!