Last Sunday I added the new, lovely sheepskin leather covers to the Specialized. Yay! Original plan was to do the 18-mile out-and-back in the afternoon to do a fullblown tack check before our next LD. I re-adjusted the plan when I ran into two local endurance riders and ended up tagging along with them: total mileage around 12 miles, but with more trotting than I would've gotten otherwise. Plenty sufficient. Pony and I went back out on a short 3 mile ride when we returned to the barn, nothing major and very flat. I noted that my knee was sore after all that and wrote it off to my knee flaring up a bit.
And then I got home and didn't want to move. My knee is frequently sore, a low-level semi-chronic thing at this point. I don't normally find myself limping the day after rides, though, let alone the evening of. The next morning, going down stairs was absolutely miserable. I have never hurt that much after a ride: the LDs leave me maybe a bit stiff and sore, but not genuinely *hurting*.
My conclusion at this point is that the added bulk of the sheepskin under my thighs (since the 18" length does put them allll the way to the top of the leathers and under my entire leg) must have changed my position enough to add torque to my knee. I didn't notice anything major during the ride - I did note when I first got on that it felt odd with that much sheepskin, but again, I frequently take a mile or two to adjust into any tack changes and figured that's all it was, just different. In hindsight, I need to cut down the leather covers several inches so they don't start until after the fleece Specialized seat ends.
All that said, I'm still left with a fairly sore left knee. I rode a few miles Tuesday (definitely made it more sore), didn't ride due to schedule conflicts on Thursday, and it's still only at 70% or so. I made the decision to piece my western-endurance saddle back together in the hopes that will keep things from getting any worse. I do think I can resolve the leather cover issues and get the Specialized comfortable for me, but my knee needs to heal first. In a perfect world, I'd take time off riding and any kind of impact til it heals completely. It may be dumb, but I don't think I'm willing to wait the few months that would likely take.
Switching to the western endurance is a plus primarily because it has very stiff, very bulky fenders. The Eurolight has English leathers and allows my leg to move freely. The fenders will force my leg to stay in one place, hopefully minimizing the odd things I do with my legs and minimizing the damage I'm doing by continuing to ride on it. Seven slow and muddy miles today have me still sore, but not substantially worse than before the ride. I'm crossing my fingers that holds. It helps that I know I've ridden two LDs in this saddle already with no problems, so I know it won't cause either me or Fetti any problems for long rides. Whatever pain I get is specific to the knee and would come up no matter what saddle I'm in.
I *will* be spending the week prior to and half the week after the LD riding a gaited horse rather than Fetti, so trotting will be a non-issue and that should help with the healing as well.