My New Dressage Saddle

 Posted by on 14 December 2013 at 3:00 pm  Horses, Personal
Dec 142013

For my birthday, Paul bought me a dressage saddle… and I just had to find the right one. (Dressage is the non-jumping element of three-phase eventing, as well as a major equestrian sport in its own right.)

The saddle was difficult to find, as I was looking for an older (early 1990s) Karl Niedersuss in a wide tree and a 17 or so inch seat. I found one online in early December, which I had shipped to me on trial. Alas, the saddle had serious structural problems. So I had to send it back. That was disappointing — and costly to ship.

However, the person who helped me diagnose those problems — saddle expert Bev Harrison of The Tack Collection in Lafayette — happened to have just what I wanted on hand. It’s a 1995 Karl Niedersuss in a wide tree and 17.5 inch seat. It’s in pristine condition, to the point that it looks to have been ridden in just a few times. Oh, and it was cheaper than the saddle that I sent back!

I rode Lila in this new saddle on Friday, in a lesson with my trainer Martha Deeds. Lila seemed to like it, and I liked it too. Of course, I still struggle to keep proper position. However, I don’t have to struggle as hard because this saddle is designed for me to sit deep with a long leg, as dressage requires.

Here’s the saddle on a very hairy Lila, without any stirrups:

Yes, that saddle was made nearly 20 years ago… but obviously, barely used! To ride in it, I borrowed the brown leather stirrups from my jumping saddle, and Martha loaned me the girth. However, I should have proper black stirrup leathers and a girth for Christmas — thanks to my always-supportive mother. Hooray! I’m so excited by this new acquisition!

Also, I’m very excited that Lila is fully sound again. In late November, the periodic “shuffle” in her hind end became such a problem that she needed intervention. Martha sent me up to Dr. Diane Wagner of Elemental Equine Services. The problem wasn’t any acute injury, but rather long-term chronic pain and postural problems… and that was fixed in just two sessions. Hooray!

At this point, I’m feeling far more ready and confident for our February trip to Aiken, South Carolina. In case you’ve not heard, Martha has rented this farm for the whole month of February, and Lila and I are going with her! Basically, instead of hunkering down in the gruesome February in Colorado, Lila and I will be spending the whole month training in this warm and lovely equestrian mecca with her and some other students. Martha is also bringing Maria, an Andalusian mare, for me to ride. (I’ve ridden her a few times. She’s very different from Lila, so I’ll learn quite a bit on her.) I’ve never done anything like this trip before, and I’m excited, nervous, and now ready!

Thank you, Paul! Thank you, Martha! Thank you, Mom! Thank you, Bev Harrison! Thank you, Dr. Wagner!

  • Jefferson

    That is a lovely saddle.. We have been wanting to get my daughter involved in horseback riding. She has ridden ponies at carnivals and pumpkin patches and whatnot.. But we are looking forward to starting her out on trail rides in the near future.

    • Diana Hsieh

      Awesome! And be sure to do some regular lessons with those trail rides! (She won’t learn much horsemanship on trail rides.)

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