UPDATE ON THE EQUINE SCIENCE SENIOR BLEND CHALLENGE
First off, I wanted to give you an update on the Equine Science Senior Blend Challenge. Unfortunately, Aladdin needs to go in for more testing so I had to cease any supplements until he is done with all of that. So, I did not get to go a full month, only 10 days. But, I have to say, after 10 days, I taped him and he had gained 35lbs! He definitely was eating better and obviously digesting better. I think that is a great result! So, when he is done with all the tests, I will put him back on this supplement. It is herbal. See the earlier post for more details: Equine Science Senior Blend Challenge on 2/12/10
I know that talking about particular saddles is like bringing up politics or religion at a dinner party… The topic is very personal and emotional for riders. Well, I don’t want to convert anyone or ruffle any feathers, I just was so interested and curious about all the presto-chango factors of this invention. I remember having paper dolls that had this plastic veneer and I could put any clothes on her, different shoes, hats, gloves — whatever I wanted to make her fit my needs for the day. This saddle tapped into that magical, “I can make this fit me” feeling that was so important to me then, and really important to me now as a rider.
This treeless saddle is called the EZ FIT. The developer is Eli Beiler from PA. He was a harness maker who fell into saddle making in a very round about way. He had a friend who was a race jockey. This friend wanted a lightweight saddle that fit his horses better during practice. Eli listened and made several saddles for his friend — and then all the other jockeys. Suddenly, Eli became “the saddle guy”. After 13 years of trial and error, Eli felt he had made so many successful saddles, he knew what riders wanted. He called it the EZ Fit.
And, true to its name, it does fit many different horses. However, UNTRUE to its name, it is not EZ to fit. I say that with a smile because it took two of us, using our backs, to break apart the pieces from the stronger than IronMan velcro. OMG. I just about blew a neck vein trying to pry the seat skin off of the seat velcro. I don’t know where they get this velcro, but you could easily use it to hang a piano from the ceiling. But, it also tells you that this saddle will stay together, once you put the parts where you want them!
I have issues with just about every saddle. Usually it is stirrup placement or girth placement. I also need lightweight, a spine channel, not much under my leg, a nice underside, comfort for the horse and comfort for me. So, like many trail riders, if you find one saddle that works, you kiss the ground — or you find one that almost works and you modify it. So, if this is the case, then having a very workable, mix-n-match saddle like the EZ Fit can solve many evils.
As you can see from this photo taken in my living room, when the saddle arrived, the stirrups were behind the girth. That doesn’t work for me, so I got my husband to help me pull off the velcro and I started rearranging. A very clever aid is the build in ruler so you can see that you are exactly even (or not, depending upon your needs) on both sides. I loved that! So, I placed the stirrups ahead of the girth and sat in the saddle. Perfect! (That is the next picture in my living room. As you can see, the stirrup is now in front of the girth.)
Next, I wanted the seat to be smaller, so I moved the cantle a bit forward. Easy. I sat in that and decided that I didn’t like the tall (5″) cantle. I called Eli and asked for a shorter and thinner cantle. It is on its way. Nice! Then, I chose the thin stirrups because that is what I like. Eli offers several types of endurance stirrups, but I like the Oxbow or narrow plate. And, another odd thing I like… I like 2″ stirrup leathers, not fenders and not 1″. So, Eli made those for me.
I wanted to be able to attach all of my riding gear and this saddle has plenty of ties. I requested more length on the cantle straps so I could attach my packs more easily. But, I probably didn’t need that option. There was plenty of leather available originally.
I love that the pommel is a very stiff foam. So, when you are riding, it feels stiff. But, as it warms, it forms to the shoulder. So far so good. And, that pommel really gives a secure feel as well as that handle so many folks like. ;) The spine channel is quite obvious… Eli uses a thick padding which forms to the horse’s back, but won’t compress. Since there is an internal thick pad, you don’t need a huge pad on top of that. The underside is lined with tacky tack, my favorite.
The footprint of mine is small on purpose. I asked for a 22-23″ length for my short backed horses. I got it. And, the skirt is pliable so I have no interference for what little bit of leather does meet my horse. No shoulder issues with my gaited horses or my high stepping Morgans.
Oh, and you can get it in many colors and combination of colors. For a seat, I generally ask for a sticky suede seat, which he has standard… and the price is excellent – $800.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE:
The only thing I don’t like is the seat. It is suede and that is good, but it isn’t padded. My boney bottom is uncomfortable in it. So, I added a thick sheepskin seat saver and all is well in the kingdom. I guess there is another thing I don’t like… the saddle looks very different. I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing, but lots of people stop me on the trail. If, down the road, Eli made a more Endurance looking version instead of a Western version, I’d probably go for that. But, truth to tell, I’d ride in a potato sack if it fit me and my horse…
I am impressed that yet another manufacturer is addressing the issues of trail/endurance riders and their horses. The more the merrier because innovation comes when saddle makers differentiate themselves from one another. I think Eli has done a great job so far… and he is totally open to suggestion. I loooove that!