Friday, December 1, 2023

Ben's Busy Week (with a saddle saga side story)

Tuesday: Ben served as the demo horse for my saddle trial. The saddle is actually for Goggles. But the saddle fitter/owner of the company recommends jumping things the size you plan on/would like to eventually jump. So in steps Ben. 

The saddle company is Tobias Saddlery. The company is owned and run by a husband/wife team. Frank Tobias worked on Porsches and Ferraris for years and then started working as a fitter/rep for a saddle company. He saw flaws he could fix and then started designing his own saddles. A few people, independent of each other, recommended these saddles as a possible fit for Goggles. I don't remember if I detailed it on this blog, but I spent a not insubstantial amount of money shipping saddles back and forth from HighLine tack to try on Goggles. And other than an Antares that fit him but that I hated, we didn't come up with a winner. 

The first time Frank came out, he worked only on Goggles, which was probably an error on my part. He fit the saddle to Goggles and I worked him for about 15 minutes in it. My first impression was amazing. Goggles has always had a good walk, but he positively had that cat like smooth saunter right off the bat in the saddle. He felt supple and like he could lift his shoulders. Excellent, seems ideal, sold? 

But then. I rode Ben in it. And felt a bit... loose in the tack over fences. Flatting was fine, but over the jumps themselves I felt my leg slipping. JT said it looked like I couldn't put my leg on at the base. Hm. Okay. So Frank came back out, this time with his wife. And when they assessed the saddle on Ben, they figured out a few reasons why I might feel that way - primarily that there was too much motion. 

His basic tests for saddle fit are: 
1. Pushing down on the pommel and seeing how much "squish" there is - there shouldn't be much
2. Pushing on pommel and cantle and seeing how much rock there is - there shouldn't be much
3. Pushing side to side on the pommel - the horses withers/body should move side to side with this (aka there shouldn't be much motion of the saddle without motion in the horse) 

So he adjusted the saddle to fit Ben better, and we tried again. 

Hm. Still not as secure as I feel in the Forestier. We played a bit with stirrup length, which helped. And tried a 17 vs the 17.5. In the end, I have a 17.5" with his "ultimate" panel in it - the panel should help it fit both Ben and Goggles without needing adjustment in between. 

Frank and his wife have been incredibly generous with the trial and with their time. I have had a saddle of theirs for going on 4 weeks now (with active communication the whole time). He has said his saddles are not for everyone and he wants every client to LOVE their saddle. There aren't any pushy sales tactics, just a genuine desire to make it work.

Ben was very interesting in the saddle. I didn't notice a big difference in his way of going, but at the end as I sat on  him chatting with them, he stood square without any resting a hind leg. I hadn't noticed he usually shifted from one hind leg to the other until he DIDN'T do it. 

Wednesday: Ben and I did a jumper round at Majestic. While on paper it was worse than our round in October as we prepped for Rocking Horse, it felt a heck of a lot better. JT had designed the course and said she did it with me in mind. It started with a single oxer, which we actually manage to not usually biff, I got plenty of problems, but the single oxer typically isn't one. Then there was a roll back right to a 5 stride to a bending 6. Left hand turn up the diagonal to a 4 stride to a 2 stride to a bending 7. Another right roll back to an oxer then a bending 7 to a triple of a 2 to a 1. Left hand turn to a single vertical and you're done. They weren't technically supposed to put the triple in for training because you can either have two doubles or a triple, but as they put it up, JT said she wasn't upset by it. LOL. Writing this out, there were only two jumps on the entire course that weren't related. 

And we did all but one of them with the right striding. He was actually moving and going forward, yay! I did let him cross canter waaaayyyy too long between one and two, and then I didn't quite get him straight enough and forward enough for the diagonal line of the four to a two. And he derped through it. The lovely part about these schooling shows is they let you fix things. So as I finished, JT came into the ring, helped pick up the rail and yelled to me to just keep coming around and come through the middle line again. We did and it was much better. Good boy! Feeling ready for the Florida Thoroughbred Transformation Expo next weekend. 

Some video grabs if you don't wanna watch the whole thing. 

#8C - last part of the triple 

#7 off the right hand roll back


Thursday: Ben went down to JT's barn. We hacked in the Tobias and then we jumped a few of her new XC jumps. I actually liked it a lot better over those fences. I didn't have the guts to try it on Wednesday at Majestic, the last thing we need is to have a crummy round because I can't get my leg on or am getting jumped around and can't land and put leg on. 

Then in the afternoon/evening, Ben and Goggles had their 6 month dental recheck. Goggles actually got a better report than Ben. Ben has an area that was left excessively tall and has a corresponding divot that we've been working to fix since I got him in January 2022. He made some progress growing in the low tooth, but not enough that she felt he could go out to 12 months. Ah well, she likes to check the baby horses every 6 months anyways, so he'll just stay on the same schedule. 

The late afternoon dental visit did mean that Ben and Goggles were the only two left in the barn and they got to hang out. Ben wanted to lick Goggles face, as he does, Goggles wanted to bite Ben and his halter, as he does. It was adorable. 

"Ima BITE his face!" 

Goggles had two loose incisor caps that needed some help getting out. When he was done in the spring (which I can't find a post about right now...) he had one then that took some digging to get the spike from. He has some crooked incisors, so the caps need some help getting out of there. I guess this is common in LARGE young horses. His premolars and molars had ETR - excessive transverse ridges. She took those down a little bit as well. Overall though, she said that Goggles is likely going to have a better/easier to maintain mouth than Ben once he's done growing. 

Pre-sedation, checking out what was about to go down

Both boys were very, vey well behaved for their dental work. Good kiddos! 

And THAT wraps up Ben's busy week. Next week we're schooling on Monday at Magnolia Sands then mayyyybeee an at home dressage lesson with a new trainer if the stars align. Then Friday morning, bright and early, we'll head down to the Thoroughbred Transformation Expo for the weekend. 


  1. Super interesting to hear about the saddle trial. I may need to get Dalton fitted since he's grown A LOT in the last year...

    1. I wish we had a clear winner! Saddle shopping is the least exciting horse shopping experience ever lol.

  2. lol i am queen of waiting *wayy too long* to fix a cross canter in a show jump round hahasob.... also, good luck with the saddle. i kinda chose the alternate route of just buying a beater to suit us for now, tho the 'for now' might end up being shorter than i'd hoped. my thought is that by the time the horse is doing anything 'real' with bigger jumps, her body will have changed enough that she'd need a new fit anyway, so i might as well wait a little longer to invest in something i'd want to keep long term. no idea if this is the right or wrong approach tho, and who knows, it may end up being more expensive if i go through like 3-4 saddles in two years lol(pls no tho)

    1. I tried a few different lower price range used saddles but didn't like any of them, unfortunately. So here we sit. Goggles is younger than Doozy, but has been taking advantage of JT's saddles since being at her barn, so in a way we've gone that route. I am thoroughly convinced there is no way to win at the saddle shopping game.