I just finished getting my western-y endurance saddle all set up. New woolback girth, sheepskin seat saver, breastplate that fits the saddle properly.. all sorts of fun stuff, the first two of which I'd been putting off for months.
Then I found a Specialized at a ridiculously reasonable price, I threw the budget out the window, and bought the saddle sight unseen.
I now have a brown Eurolight, fleece seat, with western fenders and dressage billets.
The sheepskin cover won't work - the seat isn't big enough to give me that kind of extra room. I have a sudden, major incentive to drop weight to make the saddle fit me a bit better. I pulled my English saddlepads out of my storage box - the lovely, wonderful Woolback pad makes the saddle too narrow. Two dressage girths came out of the same box, only to find that the 24" girth has buckles a bit too small to comfortably work, and the 22" (I think? It might be even smaller) girth needs a bit more length to comfortably go on. Neither has D-rings, so I found one on Ebay at a reasonable price that appeared sufficiently small, fuzzy, and equipped with a D-ring in the center. I bought a nylon D-attachment for the girths at Horse Expo, but that adds 3-4 inches to the length of the breastcollar, which makes it REALLY loose at the bottom strap.
Incidentally, dressage girths do not appear to ever come with D-rings at a moderate price. You start looking at $80-90+ for a 24" piece of material. Ridiculous.
I mostly like how the saddle fits the horse. Nice sweat patterns, moves out well enough. The one main difference? She's not offering to trot down every hill, only 50% of them. I'm baffled. She's not even trotting down some of that 50% when I ask. I have no idea if it's a saddle fit issue, or if she finally figured out that I didn't actually want her trotting down all the hills all the time, and now she thinks she's Not Supposed to Trot Down All Hills? Which absolutely sounds ridiculous, but is a very real possibility. I'd be a bit happier if she had stuck with the trotting down hills for another few weeks.
I'm hoping to have saddle fit addressed tomorrow, with a dressage trainer who supposedly does all sorts of saddle fitting stuff. I also have a set of 1/2" pads coming in the mail, and I'll probably order a set of shims to play around with. The crupper is still engaging on any steep hills, and it would be really nice if I could have the crupper at a normal horse kinda loose setting, and not a pony in hills must be snug setting.
But girths. Back to girths. The Ebay girth showed up, clearly brand new in bag but without tags, just as described. Attached breastplate snugly as per my usual and headed out for a spin. Everything went well heading out, my position at the canter is clearly not sufficient for her to offer one when I ask, but that's all me and not her. Our usual loop was blocked by a downed tree; we detoured over to a more hilly out-and-back. Decent speed heading up the hills, decent heart rate given the heat, and then she took 5 minutes to pulse down to 60 when we paused at our turn-around point. Granted, we did a Big Trot up the hill to that point, and it was hot - but that was only three miles in, and I'm not sure what to make of that. Turned around, Big Canter up a hill, walk down, Big Canter up - screech into a spook-at-something-trot - back to a Big Trot when I asked. Then things started jangling. Left breastplate attachment, check. Right attachment, check. Reach down and.. ARGH. D-ring was no longer attached to girth, only to breastplate.
I have hopes it can be fixed, and I handed it off to my friend with the nice sturdy sewing machine to see if she can work her magic on it, but it's really frustrating to have it break on the first ride out.
Work's been busy, and I haven't gotten in the rides that I was before Fireworks. I think I'm okay with that. The focus right now is more on getting that Big Trot more and having her hold it without ramping her HR up to the point where she wants to break to walk. Our last mile-split before we made it home had a 6mph average. For us - that is AWESOME to hold that for that long. Next goal: to get that several times in a ride, in a row would be really nice...