Saturday, March 5, 2011

New Saddles New Friends

              ...I enjoyed sitting in these saddles (future saddle-?) next to you friend ! My new friend EVENSONG PAINT HORSES, MOUNTAINTRAILMUSIC blog writer~

A short time ago, I met up with  this Blogger friend that was in the area. She thought to contact me to meet up at the First ever "Horse Expo", at Washington's Clark Co Fairgrounds.
 It was a mere 35 minute drive for me , across the Oregon boarder and into Washington. It took Laurie 4 hours. She came for a conference/class-
I forget which, but she and I met at the EXPO. She wondered WHERE she could find me and me, being used to our own "Oregon HORSE EXPO" and how vast a space it covers and  large the vending area's are...I thought well, "I KNOW WHY I AM GOING, and WHERE I'LL SPEND MOST MY TIME"....The "ANSUR" saddlery site!!! So ,I knew That was the spot to tell her to go to!

You see, I have come to a decision.  My saddle woes hopefully  have come to an end, and the desire for answers about my horse's behaviours(most) I  believe reside in correct saddle fit. Making my mare pain free and hopefully, soothing her back into a willing attitude.
I have researched so many saddles and the $  for the really nice ones, is too steep for me usually. But, I am determined  to SAVE-SAVE-SAVE-for one that could be fit for the both of us. The Hans Schleese "Saddle Fit 4 Life". It can be adjusted when needed, if  the mare's changes and will fit me too.

 I can't seem to fit her and she has reacted and gotten pressure marks from the choices I've made -for 5 years. We have tried 5 Saddles in 5 years! It all ends the same...her acting out and refusing to work. And on the trail..she is so uncomfortable with the downhills and slippery surfaces. The saddle always hit her shoulders and rested too close to her spine as well, as her body undulated  and traversed the countryside with me.

 After watching the "SADDLE FIT 4 life"Videos, on You Tube- yea...all 9 of them- over and over. I got a handle on many other facts to  true saddle fitting. They even have videos of different horses and how the pain manifests itself-in  behaviours and body stances, while being ridden.
The fact that the horses keep allowing the painful saddles to be put on them, over and over is amazing!! 
 But, they really DON'T..and if you are paying attention to the main ways they speak to us, they have been telling (many) of us so many stories about how they truly feel of all we ask of them with something that does NOT  feel good-at all- and can hinder the natural movement they have. I know now that I have  and have seen horses labeled as being bad and or spooky and many other things..that simply could not perform or focus, due to pain they were enduring.

                below    - WA mare last summer, In a Leather "NURTURAL"bitless and treefree "CASHEL SOFTSADDLE"-after I determined  her latest saddle was killing her back and shoulders. White hairs and soreness plus a whole lotta attitude going on!
She also had become super girthy due to what I determined(thanks Hans Schleese) to the wrong girth placement on the Dressage saddle I was using.

My relationship to the horse, any horse and just not my own, is one of true awe. I have never felt they were a means to my ends and when I got ahead of remembering that..I have always been WRONG.
I live to serve them~instead of the other way around. That's is my take on the true pleasure and blessing it is, to be an equine loving  partner.

So, all that being said, most of you know I have been riding on a bareback saddle or pad since last August. I have loved it, but have a desire to continue traditional riding too-with a real saddle- and one that really feels good to the mare. I need some stirrups again!
I have turned to asking questions of other horse owners, spent time reading up on others answers to the same questions. I have learned so very much from other wonderful riders and writers of equine blogs , as well.
I so appreciate the wealth of knowledge there is to be gleaned here. I have changed my mind and out look  and also been prompted to slow down and relax, appreciate simple times around the country and the horse Being a  horse owner and to pursue loving and learning about her .... so much more about me too, than I ever imagined!

One Blogger and friend I have always admired is "EQUINEMINE". I met her years ago, while we boarded together. SHE IS the reason I she started to blog after buying her dream horse MADDY. I had never heard of a blog, before her.
 Her Journey to- where she is NOW with Maddy-  the trusting, respectful and ever growing relationship-ONCE wasn't so good or safe and she really persevered!
My respect for her-immence~

Back then, we set out for great rides and learning about our horsey loves. She helped me to develop safe patterns for trailering, as I had been able to use  my siter's 3 horse /slant  for a year-while I had her mare.
We've come along way since then, and now we board together again too!

         We  met up recently at the "ANSUR" saddlery vendor site, at Expo as well

She, being so much younger than I is  still developing her talents and career, spending much time and effort researching out her methods and means. I get to glean from her !
She has recently replaced all video's for a SADDLE CO. called "ANSUR". ]
Being a videographer, she has made some pretty cool acquaintances.

While I have come to a conclusion that a treeless saddle would be a way to start for the mare and me. I am still saving for the other "Traditional" English made saddle from
 "Saddle fit 4 Life".
 The Action Rider tack model "FREEFORM" DKR-cutback

This was going  to be my next saddle. The Freeform saddle  Co. has put a lot of reasearch and effort to identify the main reasons some treeless saddles fail for folks...specially those like me, that have grown up on a traditional tree'd saddle with a narrower twist. I know what close contact is and like to FEEL the horse. Unlike most  TREELESS that have a wide, flat seat which can make it difficult to be over your legs with no natural gravity, balance area. The FREEFORM have seat sizes and also, have settings for the stirrup placement and girthing options= according to your horses, indiviual natural girth channel.
 Typically, mares  flare  behind a  definate, forward channel. Mine does, and if the girth is placed back too hurts her.  So I was SET AND READY to pick up a saddle this Mo. at our big OREGON Horse Expo to DEMO.
 I payed attention to the prompting to look into the"ANSUR" as well. Though it was just about as spendy as  the Used saddle I was saving for!
 THAT- almost stopped me, right there!

 Carole, the maker of ANSUR, and me....she is a TRUE INSPIRATION to me.
Her REASON for creating the ANSUR saddle made me cry when I read it.

So, I set out to research the ANSUR.

I literally read all, watched all videos on the site, linked to all the links and reviews. Went to links of trainers and watched all they did. I looked at the saddle I thought I wanted and read, linked, and studied the reviews. THEN, I went another step further..I read about all the saddles at the site.

 It took me over a month to digest all I was seeing and reading.
 The things I read...they could have been written by me, about Washashe mare, and her behaviour and attitude, while being ridden in any one of the previous saddles we had.
I was sort of numb.
I could barely think about all the times, we were in a clinics and the mare would shut down. One time,
with a high end judge and respected trainer from California. She actually told me that the "BOLTING" behaviour my mare did, three times in a row when asked to canter that day. She said- "I had taught her to do that!". Um...I'm sorry, You just  helped me to do it then", I thought after... as I had cantered
many times before and NEVER had a bolting maneuver from the mare. In fact, the first clinic we rode for her in 2 mo earlier..she LOVED Washashe...coo'd over her, told me she could do  tremendous Dressage and I was thrilled!
I also did tons of trail riding inbetween that clinic and the last one, probably building up the muscles and making THAT saddle even tighhter!
I now wonder  STRONLY, about that saddle...

I only used that saddle(below)for lessons and clinics. A deep seated Dressage saddle that weighted in at nearly 25 lbs. It was made by Hans Biglazjer in the 70's. My sister loaned it to me. My lessons  on the mare had become scary, as she became angry and  refused to trot, and  wanted to buck canter.

I would have these little nudgings though, even back then..."Don't use the saddle" I would use my  "Cashel SOFTSADDLE". It is  simply 9 lbs. of layers of closed cell foam. It came with Western Stirrups that I could ONLY USE  in the flat arena. I tried the saddle on the trail once, with stirrups...ooouu, bad idea! The mare slipped in the mud and as my weight hit whatever stirrup side it was- the WHOLE SADDLE SLID over to that side!!! I stepped off and Wa was so good to not react to that blame saddle hanging off  of her! I simply undid the girth that day, placed the softsaddle back-on top- and took off the stirrups! I hid them in the woods and picked them up on the way back!

This  Softsaddle turned out to be an excellent tool to use for correct balance. It had no twist, or correct stirrup placement. It was big,  flat and bouncy! As I rode in it, I was behind the movement, and behind my leg. So...
 My sister had me "think"  of a " Kneeling position", as I sat  the off stride, while posting. It  lengthens your upper thigh and also forces your lower legs back again, under you. When I switched to the treeless softsaddle, the mare would think angry thoughts...but would not continue in following through!

(sorry for the arty grainy pic, can't find the original now)

Julie from my stable met me at the ANSUR site to lend me moral support, as I made my final decision about the saddle.

Carole, the Ansur saddle creator was so helpful  too as I described, and yes cried again over all my past (ignorant decision's) with my mare...still wondering if this could be an answer for us....?
She told me a story that JUST OCCURRED-
 A woman had called her really upset. She had made an apt with the vet to have her mare put down.  The mare had become violent while being ridden and now, also when being groomed...she would NOT allow the saddle near her and would Lunge out and strike at anyone that tried. She was at her wits end. (horse and woman!)
The woman heard and then read about Carole's story with her Dressage horse, Bronze. She called Carole- bought a saddle and did NOT put her mare down. She has not needed to!

Carole consoled me with a hug then, and told me that mares can be so much more demonstrative  than geldings.... and a TB mare is gonna SHOUT IT OUT!
She also took the time to give me some advise on starting over in the arena.

I am so very thankful to God for leading me to this very spot in time and very boarding facility too...everyone has accepted us and also been helpful to encourage us to keep going this direction, and to take it slow, listen to my mare and be wise with the next steps.

I wrote out the largest check ever-for tack!

I then was able to enjoy the rest of the time with my friends.  Laurie from MOUNTAINTRAILMUSIC blog went to watch a demonstration with a TRAINER she had signed up to take clinic with  this coming summer. 

Laurie is here looking on, as he and his really nice QH Chex, take the spot light in a small arena.

Then, we got to see  trainer-JULIE GOODNIGHT -spend some time with a PUSHY HORSE. She helped it's owner out by helping her with a "leadership Presence". Meaning, instead of allowing the horse to lead you and you becoming a bothersome nat, only worth swatting or stepping on.... seen here, as this Appy gelding leads his human around the arena...ignoring any attempt for it to be the other way around!

Julie soon determined, shockingly to the owners knowledge, that this Appy gelding was quite well trained and probably had been in some hallter classes...he was excellent at keeping his feet squared and his nose straight! He also pivoted on his haunches as JULIE stepped into his space, requiring it to become hers.

It was a nice session that now has me requiring my mare to not pass my lead hand anytime- as we walk to &  fro anywhere. Also, I have begun to require her to turn from me, as I step into her, instead of turning away from her and pulling the lead, for her to follow.
Nice reminders!

We then got to see MARK BOLENDER in the larger arena on his QH- Chex.
 This horse was so neat, following Mark's seat and leg, with this little neckstring on  only.

Chex did hs own demo- on calming oneself!

There was a small Trail course set up and Mark used this rather huge Draft horse, to show us a little of his tecnique.

It was a nice DEMO and also DOES this horse see anything??!!

OKAY...Sure couldn't wait to run off to the stable and see the mare~
I had such wonderful news to share with her!

Could this be an  answer for our training issues & pain free trail riding?
The ANSUR will be ready for me in 2 1/2 months time.

By the way, the name came from a European client that ordered a saddle after she watched Carole and Bronze being scored in a Dressage test. She found out how Carole was able to ride Bronze so nicely in the higher levels. She said, "could this be the Answer?"-sounded like "ansur" in her European accent!  Hence the name was born!   I pray is ours!!
Now, I have to raise just as much as I put down$$- in far less time!!



  1. Oh wow what a great sounding purchase ....I cant wait to hear how it goes. I'm just in the process of trying to work out what is making Diego not want to canter when I ask. I'm sure its his saddle and I'm now on the hunt for different options. Isn't it just so FRUSTRATING when you know something is not right yet aslo know it can be like finding a needle in a haystack!!! awesome to meet up with fellow bloggers...thanks for posting all the gorgeous photos. The expo looked like fun

  2. Wow, I would have enjoyed that expo, too.

    Congrats on the new saddle.

    Wonderful that you got to meet so many friends there and learned so much. Word of mouth, the best teacher, by far.

  3. Yea...5 needles in 5 years...hoping this is the "soft haystack" ride answer!

    Meant to say too......this saddle has excellent technology inside. Through it's not a wood or metal platform Tree
    Has a near that is patented-"flex core". Nasa has made some of it, it absorbes shock. It's flexible.
    She, Carole ,stood behind me and lifted gently, the saddle behind me ...asking me which of the horses legs were moving. Man, it was cool.

  4. I really enjoyed this post Kacy - congratulations!!!! So glad you found the "ansur" :)

    Great story, great pictures (love you writing the check and telling Wa about her surprise) and great "Konklusion".

    Good luck in your fundraising keep us posted!

  5. Go for it! I looked at the videos posted at Equine Mine and found the saddles to be pretty fine! When will you get it?

  6. I hope this is the end of your saddle fit problems. I've been riding bareback too since last summer as I pay off the saddle I had built to fit Beamer.

  7. Kacy! What day were you at the Expo!!! I was there all day Saturday!
    I know the Ansur Saddle people well!! I fell in love with Brents new western version!!! Carole is always so nice, she has worked so hard to make this product a success!!!
    I too watched Mark Bolender and I really really like him!!!
    Dont know that I can afford his clinc but he and Chex were so cool, and he has a great story about how he got where he is!!!
    I dont know yet if I am going to make it down to Albany, I will let you know if I do!!!
    Werent those Black Forest Horses something!!!! Talk about a lot of forelock and mane!!!! Love the color too!!.
    The Clark County Fairgrounds is 35 min. from my house! I have spent a lot of time there, LOL.

  8. Looks brilliant! What a fantastic day!

  9. you are a gifted storyteller, this was a really fun read.

    i have to ask:

    when you drive into washington do you go, "oh boy, i get to pump my own gas!" or do you say, "crap, i have to get out of this car/truck and pump my own gas." (*giggle*)

    so, is it ansur or ansür? cuz there's a big difference in how the two are pronounced. they seem to go back and forth on their website. if they are going back and forth because they don't have an umlaut on their keyboard/word processing software, they should add an e after the vowel. (like in web addresses - you can't have umlauts so you type the name Jörg as Joerg.)

    tell carole her german speaking audience is curious!


  10. My Albion Dressage saddle has proved to be a very comfortable fit for my QH and for me as well... especially on the trail - I can tell by the sweat marks that there is no bad rubbing area - have you ever tried one?

    I'm learning from your blog, didn't know there were treeless saddles or even the bareback kind you use.

  11. The Expo looks like it was great. Clinicians, saddle fitters and good friends. I'm hoping your saddle fits perfectly and Wa mare loves it. I know they are a little pricey, but it will be worth every dollar if it works for you and her.

    I was wondering if they will come out and fit the saddle to your girl to make sure it's a perfect fit? Good luck Kacy. Great post.

  12. First things first ~ thank you for your ever kind comments on my blog. I truly appreciate them.

    Second ~ I'm so happy you are finally getting a saddle that you feel both you and Wa will be happy with.

    The expo sounds awesome and fun that met some blogger friends there.


  13. Lovely post! The Ansur sounds like a good choice and I sure hope Wa approves! (A 25 lb dressage saddle? Was it flocked with lead? My western saddle weighs less!)

    Good idea about teaching the mare to turn away from you as you step into her - I should try that with Dixie.

    And a horse with more mane than Dixie! He's beautiful, and I'm so glad I don't have to brush his mane ;)

  14. I knew you had been riding in the "soft Saddle" for awhile, but didn't realize how hard you have been working to find the right "match" for Wa. Considering the price, I hope this is "The One!"

    It was so fun to meet up with you that night--glad I thought to contact you ahead of time! You have such a bubbly personality, and a positive attitude--I'm not sure how you and silly Wa mare ever get focused! You just go out and have fun on the trail! Hopefully, this saddle will make your arena work just as much fun!

  15. Congratulations on your purchase. I'm almost sure it will be the Ansur to your and Wa's problems. I've read the Bronze-story. Very touching. Looking forward to read about your experiences with the new saddle when it arrives. Can't wait, as I'm sure you can't either ;-)

    Love the photos and the story.
    (Have to tell you, Naloma and I have been doing great the last few weeks. Did a working pirouette (I'm not sure if that is the technical term, but I am sure you know what I mean). Well, we did half a working pirouette, but she 'sat down' and raised her front and we were completely balanced. It felt great. I hope you'll experience the same feeling with Washashe and your new saddle.

    Big hug :-)

  16. Grats for being on the way to a new saddle! I need to get a new one for Gabe but am hesitating at the moment because I know his back will change once we start to get back into regular work.

    A friend of mine had one of the original Ansurs and I did not like it at all. The pommel sat directly on her mare's withers and rubbed them bloody for every ride. It's good to see they've added a gullet to the treeless, which I imagine fixed that problem.

  17. I have a Konklusion (an older one, one of the first ones made). It is the BEST trail saddle ever. Like buttah.

  18. I'm thinking about taking one of those for a test drive this summer. I saw someone using one in a hunter/jumper clinic a few months ago riding the pants off of everyone else there. She had a very similar story- pony mare that was awful under saddle because nothing fit. They switched to the Ansur and now clean up in shows up and down the coast.

  19. Congrats on the new saddle! Yay! I will keep the brand Ansur tucked away in my brain in case I need something specific for Casey. He's not easy to fit saddles to either, with his high withers.

  20. Thanks for sharing this long and important journey. I am so glad for you and Wa that you found the "Ansur". Wa will be so happy with your choice - I am sure. Especially since Carole developed this saddle to help her own horse.

    You have ridden stirrup-less since I have been following you - very gutsy out on the trails - all to save your sweet mare's back. You deserve some stirrups and Wa deserves a painfree ride.

    Congratulations on your purchase - I feel so happy for you two!

  21. Very sweet Kacy. I think you will be thrilled...and so will WA. Carole is a wonderful soul, a true horsewoman with pure love and caring for the horse. I felt like I knew her my whole life when we got to talking. I will have to take you to the workshop....drool, drool, many saddles, so little time:-). Counting the days...Can't wait to see it!


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