Last year I started riding in a borrowed CWD which I loved. I decided to order a replica of said CWD which looked entirely different when it actually showed up (sad face). CWD promptly shipped the thing to their shop in California and it was returned (mostly promptly) but not very different from how I sent it down.
I continued to ride and show in the saddle for the last half of the season, but needed shims in order to make my balance ok, and nothing I did fixed the small amount of bridging going on in relation to Prair's back.
CWD got a new rep in our area who took a look at my saddle in January and quickly told me to take it to the guys at the booth at Thermal. I did. They shimmed it up and made the fit better for Prair (but not me). Several CWD's in our barn (ordered last year) are also... not quite right... so after a slight tantrum was thrown CWD bent over backwards to make it All. Right. (all of it).
At the show it was determined that I was in entirely the wrong saddle (well.. not entirely... the color was fine). But seriously. Wrong seat, wrong flap, wrong panel for Prair. wrong wrong wrong. So I started a series of fittings to try and determine what the correct saddle would be so they could replace (free of charge) my current sad-saddle-situation.
Flash forward to yesterday, when our (new) rep came out and made everything ok. (whew).
We started by looking at how my saddle fits on Prair (decently, now) and how we would order new panels to make that even better. I felt like she took a good amount of time to show me several different panels and how we would adjust them for Prairie's special back. She totally understood that my biggest priority was getting/keeping Prairie comfortable in her tack.
Then we started talking about me and what I needed. My biggest issue has been having to climb out of a good sized pothole every time I try to get up out of my saddle. I *like* deeper seats (dressage... eventing... it's hard to change what feels "normal"), but I don't like feeling like I'm stuck in my tack.
Part of this issue is still the balance of my saddle (too far back) and part of it is the seat/flap combo I have.
Currently I ride in a 17.5" SE02 with a 4C flap. For non-CWD enthusiasts the "02" means a deep(ish) seat, and the "C" means a round, forward flap (not an xc flap.. but not a straight hunter flap). The 4 simply refers to the relative size of the flap and 4 is large-ish.. but it should be to fit my really long femur...
|not my saddle, but an SE02 with a 4C flap|
|Also, not the saddle I sat in, but a 2Gs and an L flap|
The 18" was a bit too big, but the L flap fit better than I remembered it fitting down at Thermal and I liked it.
I have mixed feelings about the 2G and 2Gs, but I was also pretty sure CWD wasn't offering to upgrade my saddle to that extent.. so we moved onto the next option in our stack. (for the record the plastic on the 2Gs really irritates me).
We moved to an SE01 (less deep) with an L flap. We moved back to a 17.5" seat, which shrunk the relative size of the flaps a tad, but they were still ok. Again.. we were on a stack of shims, but again, I really enjoyed the balance and overall feel. I worked Prair for about 15 min and just played around asking for some baby lateral work and transitions to see what my body wanted to do in the tack.
|SE01 - "L" flaps|
There could be an argument made that the growing bump is an effective counter weight... but I'm pretty sure it had more to do with the flatter seat and better balance. Also the saddle I was trying was a full calfskin version. My current saddle is a grain leather, which I have always liked and think is more durable. Full calf is "nice" but I hate seeing people with the stitching coming out and whatnot... seems like a pain.
However, when I was riding in it I did not think it was a pain. I was thinking it was grippy and nice. So, I had to bear in mind that calf vs. full grain was another variable to consider (argh).
After the SE01, I ruled out the new super flat hunt seat saddle because that thing has a very narrow twist and I dislike narrow twists. Also, I dislike super flat hunt seat saddles.
So, what we came away with was this:
17.5" seat - still ok
SE02 needs to become an SE01 - flatter seat, easier to get out of, and maybe not as bad as my ex-eventer brain thinks.
"C" flaps need to become "L" flaps - forward point of the flap matches my knee better (even if I put my stirrups up a couple holes)
With regard to the leather... I asked my rep her opinion and she seemed to think there was no discussion and I should go for the calf. I said I didn't really want to pay any more dollars so that option is up to CWD. I'm thinking they'll upgrade it for me at this point, but if they won't, I don't think I'll pay the difference.
We spent another several minutes going over the details of Prair's back and making sure the panels are ordered as correctly as possible. The rep said with such a curvy back she almost always has to make a small correction upon arrival, but it shouldn't be anything major and I shouldn't have to send my saddle to Burbank ever again (unless the stitching on the calfskin comes out..doh).
So that is our update. Saddle is on order. Apparently they are producing really quickly so it could be here in as little as 6 weeks. I won't get to do much of anything in it this summer, but at least Prair's Half-Lease-Lady will get to break it in and I'll know there's a saddle that fits Prair well on her back.
Fingers crossed that this is our final solution! As the CEO said in Thermal.. you don't pay for a high end custom saddle to get a mediocre fit.
Amen to that.