Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saddle Looks West

Well, I Tried It

As planned, I tried the Ansur Westernnaire.  I was super comfy, and seemed well balanced. I did not find myself being thrown into a chair seat, but was easily able to keep a more vertical, correct position.

However, it's pretty clear to me that I do not particularly like riding in a western saddle. (Sorry, Muriel)  There is just too much leather between me and my horse. Chance wasn't too sure about it either, but he did just fine, giving me a nice smooth little trot to test out the balance.  I did not canter (lope) as I did not feel quite secure...but that's always been an issue when I ride western after not having done it for a long time.  Since I really wasn't planning on riding for a full session in the saddle, I didn't bother to "get used to it."

So, were I in the market for a western saddle, the Ansur/Northwestern treeless model would be tops on my list. The quality it beautiful and, as I said, it just put in me a very natural, balanced position. If I had a few days to practice in in, I'm sure I would feel far more confident and comfortable. The seat is soft and felt good too.

After perhaps ten minutes, of western effort, I took Chance back into the barn and switched to the Excel dressage saddle.  I was "home" again!  Curiously enough, my natural position in the Excel was about the same as in the Westernnaire, so both saddles encourage the correct, balanced, vertical seat, but the closer contact of the Excel gives a much better feel for the horse under me.

That said, I rode Chance for a nice schooling session with lots of bending from one rein to the other, asking him to stretch down and into the bit.  He's not quite steady at it, but he certainly does have the concept.  The big issue is getting both the stretch down and some nice forward strides all along. He uses the canter as an evasion when I push the trot too forward for him.  Since he's not yet confirmed in this "on the bit" concept, he does not always step with enough energy and will break into a nice little canter rather than trot with more power.  But, the potential is there as every now and then he gives me the impulsion he needs and he feels great.  I am sure that as he builds some muscle and gains even more confidence in his balance, he'll be fine.

I am far, far behind in his training at this point. As I've noted before, he's so much fun out on the trails that I've ridden him more out there for fun than I've ridden in schooling.  Granted, I could do a lot of softening exercises on the trail, and I will, eventually, but just going out to have fun is

Oh the other hand, I am pleased that Chance has not backtracked in any of the dressage training I have given him. Each ride builds on the last, even when there are months in between.  Essentially, he lost nothing with virtually the entire winter off.  As long as he progresses that way, we'll get trained--together.

Considering my back, I did not try to ride anyone else.  If the weather holds, I'll get on Tucker tomorrow.

Then, I guess we just have to wait to see if it snows....again. *sigh*


  1. The Western Ansur sounds like a nice saddle. I have the same problem as you with the western saddles, too much leather, not enough feel. But glad to hear you had a good ride in it.

    Chance seems like a great horse, especially since he lost nothing of his training over the winter. It is more fun to ride out on the trails but I suppose there has to be some training at home too. Chance sounds like a horse who will do just about anything. Hope your back continues to feel good and we don't get any more snow.

  2. Although I learned to ride in a western saddle and rode in one exclusively until I was about 14, I do not like them. Same reasons: too much saddle, not enough contact, don't feel secure. Instead, I choose to ride western style in an english saddle! Ha!

  3. TBh, It took me a time to get used to Western saddle. I am selling mine because it is too big, I feel like I am swimming.
    I feel Teena well, when I am in the correct position, but then I have not ridden her in a dressage saddle.

    I really like the concept of Ansur.

    I guess a traditional Western saddle IF it fistthe horse, is good for long long ride, when you do not want to feel every step!!!

  4. That's my problem with western, too. I have no idea what to do with all that saddle and I feel completely disconnected from my horse as well as unbalanced. It's all what you're used to, I guess. My western friend has those same feelings in a dressage saddle.

  5. I'm with you on the Western saddle - feel like I have no feel of the horse with all that leather between us. Plus the ones I've ridden in terribly twist my knees and I'm about crippled for a while after I dismount. Although I ride in many different saddles so I tend to get used to them, my boss mostly has Specialized Saddles. They put you in a good position and you can move the stirrups forward or back a bit. I see they have a 'Western line' of these, wonder how those are? although I still see a lot of leather on them.
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  6. Of course, I am the western "queen" LOL in this group. I started western and I ride english but western is my love. I have no problem feeling my horse through all that leather but I imagine it is because I have learned to feel it with lots of practice. I sure feel more secure when starting a young horse in a western saddle. I'm getting near the point of changing to an english saddle for Storm and to be honest, I am dreading it.

    Sounds like Chance is doing awesome. You just have to love it when you take a long break and then can pick up where you left off.

    I do lots of bending when I ride trails. Since I rely on that to get my horse's brain back should something scare the begeezus out of him, I make sure he's used to that routine no matter where we ride. It's been a great tool in difficult situations.