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Perfect Saddle: Found at Last! (long)

Hello friends and neighbors,
        About a year ago I posted to ridecamp concerning my quest for a
"perfect" saddle for my Appy mare. Many people wrote me back and I was
fortunate to develop an ongoing dialogue with several people.  My search
finally ended when I chose to order a custom DeSoto saddle made by Marilyn
Horstmeyer in Etowa,  Tennessee. I finally received my was a long
6 months wait but worth it. Secure in the knowledge that there will always be
riders engaging in the "Great Saddle Hunt" I post this description of the
DeSoto Saddle for those who might be interested.  Before I continue, please
know that I have absolutely no vested interested in  DeSoto Saddles. I do not
make them, sell them, or represent them in any fashion. I'm just one very
satisfied customer! 
       DESIGN: The Desoto saddle weighs 16 pounds and is made of leather with
a wooden tree re-inforced with fiberglass. It's shape is rather round, like an
Arabian saddle. The rigging is "Y" shaped and the cantle is about 3 or 4
inches high. The pommel is narrow enough for a woman to get her entire hand
around and it is no higher than necessary. The stir-rups are English rigged
but with Western style fenders attached to them. There is no extra skirting or
leather  -- that is why the saddle is so light. I guess you could say the
design is "minimalist." The saddle is very loin rubbing! There are
plenty of d-rings and places to tie stuff. 
       FIT OF HORSE:  The buyer measures her horse with a flexible wire,
about 24" long, that goes over the horse's back, just behind the shoulders in
that little hollowed out place. The wire is then shaped to conform to the
horse's back and the owner then marks on the horse's back  with a felt pen (or
lipstick)  just exactly where the wire is laid. Then the wire is laid on a
poster board and traced. The process is repeated four inches down the horses
back about 5 or 6 times -- I can't remember how many times exactly I was asked
to make that measurement. Then, when the pattern is complete and your horse's
back looks like a zebra, you get your camera. Marilyn wanted pictures of
Flower taken from the front, back, both sides, and from the top. The top was
easy, I just tied her under my deck! 
       FIT TO RIDER: The saddle maker wanted my height, weight, inseam, sex,
and hip measurement. Yikes.....
       COMFORT LEVEL: The seat has a built-in cushion so my pelvic bones don't
bottom out in this saddle like they do in my husband's Big Horn. The free-
swinging stir-ups have virtually eliminated my knee and ankle  pain that I got
from the heavy western fenders.  Also, I feel very secure and it is incredibly
easy to post in this saddle. I'm not sure what causes this pleasant
surprise....perhaps this is what people mean when they talk about the stirrups
being's just so easy to rise to the trot now, instead of
struggling. I don't unintentionally lean forward at the trot in this saddle.
It's fabulous. 
         TREE:  The tree is smallish compared to the western style saddle I'm
accustomed to. The wood tree is  re-inforced with fiberglass. The bars are
rounded in front and rounded in back. In the back the bars do not seem to
extend very far past the cantle. Indeed, it looks like the bars are sort of
curved up-ward to avoid the loin-rubbing that is so common with some western
and some treeless saddles. There is no extra saddle after the cantle. That's
it, end of saddle.  In the front, the bars seem to round out just where the
pommel fits.  The panels are very well padded. I like that. Plus, there is no
way that my horse's spine could rub up against the inside of this saddle as
there is a wonderful space there just for her spine. The saddle lays perfectly
on her back, about an inch down from the spine on each side.  It is so neat!
All I do is throw it up there, then move it down until it literally "fall"
into place on her back. It's an  unbelievable improvment. And without all the
extra leather skirting I can really feel HORSE under me. Wow, what a feeling.
      COST: This saddle cost $985. I also ordered the ez-rider stirups, which
I love. That was extra. 
       Well, I can't think of anything else to say. To all the riders on your
great saddle hunt, don't despair! Keep looking until you find what you're
looking for. Keep asking questions, and keep thinking! Happy Trails to all,
Bev Schlegel and Tru Dessert Flower (ahhhhhhhhhhhh.....)
P.S.  Marilyn Horstmeyer's phone number: (423) 263 - 9371 She LOVES to talk
about saddles and horses! She's not on-line. 

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