Guess whose horse needs a K panel AND wither gussets?
You guessed it this girl!
After realizing 6 weeks or so ago that my beloved jumping saddle didn't fit my horse anymore, I've been searching for something else. Trailered my horse with me to the tack store (actually went to 2 local tack stores) and found NOTHING that would work for us.
I finally started working with Trumbull Mountain last week, and they sent me a demo Black Country Ricochet on Tuesday. What a yummy saddle - but the medium tree ended up right down on his withers after I rode in it for about 15 minutes. It fits him well otherwise, and a narrow tree is too narrow. So they have recommended a K panel along with wither gussets (and possibly some fill in the rear of the panel as well) to fit his Everest-like withers.
Soon I will be able to say that my saddle cost more than my horse
If you want to go that route, go for it. You'll live happily ever after. I've seen the pictures of your horse and I agree with Trumbull Mountain's general appraisal of what he needs.
BUT. But but but. Don't tell yourself that it's some kind of necessity or that you MUST buy a saddle that costs more than your horse. If you're ready for a luscious saddle that's a great deal for the money, then yeah, all those $2200-$3000 British Walsall-made saddles are lovely and well worth the price tag. I used to own one and would gladly own one again. Heck, I just convinced someone locally to buy a Black Country Ricochet with K panels a few months ago. For that matter, I own an Amerigo that essentially has a K panel and a PDS Showtime Dressage saddle that has wither gussets. I'm not a hater!
But someone's going to read this thread and get the misimpression that because they've got the same fit problem, they need to drop $2500. Fortunately, the market has come a long way in the last few years, and there are finally some cheaper alternatives that are pretty widely available. Naming some names: the Kent and Masters Hi-Wither Jump and S-Series Cross Country Monoflap, retailing at $1500 and $1600. The Prestige Roma, one of Prestige's rare wool-flocked options that retails at $2100. The Collegiate Nobility retails around $1200 and has a panel that's sort of half-bred between a K panel and a trapezius panel. The Pessoa Legacy Monoflap XCH has wither gussets, and it may have K panels but I can't quite remember from when I last saw it. And a lot of these options have adjustable gullets, which I don't personally consider a dealmaker in saddle deals but they're a nice bonus if they can be had without compromising the rest of the fit.
I also think many folks underestimate the possibilities of a regular non-K-shaped wool panel + a shimmable half pad. Conveniently, the shape of a half pad is the same shape as a K panel. I won't get too far off onto that primrose path, but let's just say I've seen more than a few narrow/medium narrow horses survive for YEARS in a half pad that was shimmed thoughtfully and with the guidance of a good saddle fitter to simulate a K panel + wither gussets. We're talking active eventing and hunt horses, too, so people who are really putting that system to the test.
Again, I'm really not trying to rain on your parade. The Ricochet is a fabulous saddle for eventers, and worth every penny of its $2600 retail cost. You'll love it! And if you sniff around for demos, it's not entirely impossible to find a demo for less. Again, that was not true a few years ago when the market was hotter, but things are quiet these days. I have at least two friends who've scored 17.5" with K panels and wither gussets (one Black Country, one Hastilow) for under $2000 from Annette Gavin at Hastilow USA.
My horse? Oh wait, that was not a real question. But yes, he has both and his dressage saddle is a BC Eden with some tweaks for my wacko long legs. Which I bought less than a year before an injury ended his eventing career. Of course. Well, at least he is still rideable and has a DAMN nice saddle to...fart around in.
I also have a K&M dressage for my OTTB, another of the Walsall builds, but he did not need the special gussets/panel. Tree fits him like a glove, fantastic to ride in. Sadly, the flap leather is crappy and my fitter/rep abandoned me, so I just live with the fact that the top layer of dye has worn off from seat to stirrup under the leathers in less than a year. Oh well, I keep telling myself, it's just aesthetic and no one can see it when I ride. Kind of a bummer when you spend $1800 though.....
Oh Wildlifer -I had the same thing happen to my K&M.
I bet we got ours at the same time -they apparently had a bad batch of leather.
I bought from Trumbull and they immediately contacted K&M who will replace my flaps (I asked them to wait until winter when I would not be riding and they were fine with that-I'll be sending it off in December).
Given I was told there was a bad batch of leather maybe you can contact them directly to get yours replaced? (PS -Trumbull has great customer service -I was a long distance fitting yet they treated me like gold!)
jn4jenny, call me a purist, but I want my saddle to fit my horse without a half pad. I know it can work for years, because I've done it for years. But now that my beloved Fontaine is too narrow for the boy (which worked without a half pad, FWIW) I decided it was time for an upgrade. I haven't tried all the models you mentioned, because they're not available locally, but I did try some of those brands, and there was NO way they were going to work. It's strange, because he obviously has high withers when you look at him, but they don't seem THAT big - but they are exceedingly hard to fit! And rather than spend a fortune shipping saddles back and forth, I decided to go this route.
Trumbull Mountain has been awesome to deal with and their trial policy is amazing, so hopefully the saddle will be exactly what we need!
Oh, and wildlifer - I'm afraid that's going to happen to me too! I think along with the saddle they should send me several years' supply of bubblewrap for the horse
Last edited by McVillesMom; Oct. 12, 2012 at 04:34 PM.