This medium tree seems to be a generous medium. The thigh blocks looked huge, but they did not feel so obvious once I was mounted. Fancy Pony expressed her appreciation for long billets and short girths by keeping her ears perked forward through the entire cinching-up process.
This saddle embraced me as I sat into it. It caressed my leg into a long position, supported my upper body to stay on the vertical, and encouraged mobility in my pelvis to follow my horse. As I rode around, I felt a freedom of body that I haven’t experienced in quite a while. I felt my horse lifting her back to carry me (to carry *us*!) forward and relaxed. Then, about halfway through our ride, the Psycho Mare crept in… It looked something like this:
Three strides of connected trot – throw the head up, and drop the back and connection – take 4 strides to recover that connection – repeat!
When I dismounted, I could see that the saddle had slid forward ever-so-slightly. Now, I’m thinking the head-throwing (which doesn’t look nearly as dramatic as it sounds, but feels like she is falling apart) is her attempt to put the saddle back. Like the young girl who keeps tossing her head to the side to get her bangs out of her face. The girl with the bangs doesn’t even realize she’s doing it…
I tried the saddle again with different padding. Before any supplemental padding, I could visibly see the slight forward-and-back shifts with every stride that allows it to creep forward. I started with a half pad. It did, indeed, fill up the space in front, but it also lifted the back of the saddle. No Go.
I tried my tiny front shim. It looked like it did what we wanted, but the shifting was still there with every stride. So, I pulled that out and tried the front riser pad. Wa-La! Stable saddle! Off to the arena, we go!
My horse was normal. Not great. Not bad. Cooperative, but not exuberant. At the walk, there was this tail-swishing that I have never noticed before… Every time she stepped forward with the inside hind, her tail swished to my inside leg. I changed directions. She continued to swish to the inside. I sadly decided that this was never going to be the saddle for us. I’m not looking for the fit that she can live with… I’m looking for the fit that will allow us to excel!
UPDATE: This saddle rode MUCH better for us with a Bay Jacobsen memory foam pad. It helped fill the extra space at her withers and stabilized the minute shifting. We even got a few decent walk-canter transitions where she felt really comfortable!