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Hi, I am just starting to get me and my horse in shape for next year. My mare, Venesza, is in good shape already, but I'm not! Anyhow, I have a saddle made by John Di Pietra or something like that, which I bought with the horse, so I know it fits her - which is great because that isn't one of my strengths. It's an endurance saddle, not custom, but has bottle holders and a couple big solid pockets in the back. It seems to be a pretty good saddle - keeps my feet under me, isn't too wide (I've never found a western saddle that wasn't too wide for me). Anyhow, I started conditioning with my dressage saddle, which I love because it fits my horse and me perfectly. But it is so deep that it's not good for lots of 2 point and I seem to get real sloppy and hard on my horses back when she trots fast - which she can really do!
So I figured if I was going to get into this I'd be better off using the endurance saddle. Here's what I seem to have found: 1) I am much kinder to my horse's back, 2) my riding position is much better, 3) my butt is killing me, even though there is some fleece on top, it's HARD!, 4) my knees are going to explode before I'm able to handle 10 miles - and this is not like any of the other pains that I know will go away when I've gotten used to this.
I'm thinking that the problem with my knees may have a little to do with me keeping my stirrups too high (the space between the holes is too much to hit the right length, so I can punch new holes to see if that helps) and may have more to do with not having knee rolls (which my dressage saddle does) and therefore changing the angles of my legs. I can't quite tell for sure, but I can ride 4-5 hours with no pain in the dressage saddle.
So my question is this: is there a particular brand(s) of saddle that I should look at that has the following characteristics:
1) would fit a slightly chunky arab with modest withers
2) is on the english side of things - freedom of stirrup movement, narrow in the seat
3) puts the legs back rather than forward
4) has some level of knee roll
5) has some level of gadgetry or at least plenty of rings for attaching stuff
6) has a comfy enough seat - but I guess I could by a padded cover if I had to.
One other thing, if I find a more appropriate saddle for me, is any one interested in my current saddle or have any idea of what it's worth?
Thanks, and feel free to e-mail me if you'd like.
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