Riding Jammy: Saddle Search Saga

Jammy the Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred Mare out on a HackThere’s a cute little Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred mare named Jammy out at the boarding facility where I keep Skipper. She belongs to the farm owner, who is busy running the place and doesn’t get much free time to ride. She first offered to let me ride Jammy weeks (maybe even months?) ago, but I don’t yet have my own saddle, and at the time there wasn’t one readily available for me to borrow.

Shortly before Thanksgiving the County rep was out at the barn to help a couple of the other boarders try saddles, and one of them fell in love with and bought a new dressage saddle. This is lucky for me because she’s letting me use her old Prestige until she sells it, which is nice.

It’s not the most ideal fit for Jammy’s back, though. We had the County rep take a look at it, and she recommended using a pad under the pommel to help level it out or whatever. But it will have to do for now. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that.

So I’ve been riding Jammy since the Monday before Thanksgiving, and she’s doing really well. It’s going to take a while to get her back in shape, but that’s fine because she’s fun to hack around the farm, and we’ve done a little schooling in the ring.

Riding outOf course, I can’t jump Jammy in this borrowed dressage saddle. I mean, I guess I could try, but no thanks. The flaps are too straight and long, the knee rolls too thick, and I’d be fighting a losing battle in such a deep seat.

Which is why I’m watching a few jumping saddles on eBay, just to see what they sell for. One I’ve had on my watchlist for ages because it keeps not selling and getting relisted. This week the price dropped, so I’m curious to see if it sells. It’s an Albion Legend, very similar to the one I ride in (and really like) out at Wil-Lo Blue.

I’m not totally comfortable with the thought of spending that much money on eBay for something that I really should try out first, so I decided to stop by the local tack store and see if they had any used saddles on consignment in my price range. There was one: a 17″ Pessoa, in that horrible two-tone light tan color, for $650. I’m not sure which model, but it has a very thin knee roll and padded flaps.

I tried it on Jammy yesterday, and while it seems to fit her fine as far as I can tell, I didn’t like it that much. First off, the seat is hard and pretty flat–which is fair enough, it is a jumping saddle–so it’s not great for doing a lot of flatwork. And I definitely spend WAY more time on the flat than jumping.

But what really bugged me was the way the girth buckles (it has short billets) rubbed against the insides of my legs. My right knee actually has a mark from it. Strange, because I remember a Barnsby Cirrus II jumping saddle doing the same thing. I tried my stirrups at different lengths, thinking maybe my leg just wasn’t in the right place, but it didn’t make any difference. I don’t know what that means, maybe the flaps aren’t the right size/length/shape for me or something, but I’ll be taking the Pessoa back today.

The weird thing is, I had nothing but short billet saddles way back when, and I never had any issues with the girth buckles bothering me. There aren’t even any billet guards on the Albion I use out at Wil-Lo Blue, I have no problem riding in it. But I suppose this helps explain the major trend in long-billeted saddles. It seems like everyone has one these days.

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