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Since finding the *PERFECT* saddle is near and dear to
all of us, I thought you might be interested in my most recent 

By way of background, I bought Meshack, a 6 YO Arab gelding
two years ago. He was grossly overweight and out of condition.
For saddle fitting all I needed was a 55 gallon drum <g>! He's
very sensitive to tack and did not like my English saddle AT ALL!
When asked for a trot, he'd just pin his ears back, even though it
*SEEMED* to fit. The only saddle he liked was a Western (now 
for sale), but my knees did NOT like it, nor did I find it as versatile
as the English models.

I finally got a Thornhill Trail model which fit very well for about a year.
But his conformation had changed so much, that it became very
uncomfortable, even though I had gotten quite good at shimming.
After I started driving him, the conformation change was greatly
accelerated. His physical therapist recommended a new saddle.

I scheduled a "Saddle Fitting" consultation with a Vet here in Vermont.
We determined that an interim solution might be to reflock the 
Thornhill, but it would probably be better to get a new saddle. Having
gone the mail order route previously, and being less naive, I
went to a shop with a BIG inventory of saddles and a reputation
for knowing how to fit them. They tried at least 20 saddles, and I rode
most of them. It was a GREAT learning experience, to see what the
different models were like. It was also fascinating to see how Meshack
behaved with the different models. I could watch his ears and how he
responded to the "TROT" command to know if HE like the particular
model.  I was ready to spend $2000 for the *PERFECT* saddle, but 
ended up with a used Smith-Worthington all-purpose model for $550.

It was not perfect for Meshack or me, but we tried it for two weeks, and
went back when the "Saddle Doctor", Gary Severson, was there. He
restuffed the saddle, lowering the front, and making it even better for
Meshack and me. This morning we did the easiest 10 mile ride ever!
It's probably as close to *PERFECT* as we could get!

Ridecampers have suggested that the cost-effective approach is a used
model. If you can get a good "FITTER" it's even better! Gary tells me that
he gets saddles from all 50 states, and does pretty good with "Mail Order".
He has a questionnaire and requests videos of the horse. I think restuffing
costs $65 to $75.

Email me privately if you want the name of the saddle shop here in Vermont 
or Gary Severson's address in CT.

John and Meshack (I really WANT to GO now!) (Vermont Equestrian Activities)

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