Saddle fit…this seriously overwhelmed me last summer.
I touched on this a little in my first Kissing Spine blog post but didn’t go that far in depth on the saddle side.
Quick backstory, last summer was Fiona’s first time on a regular training schedule since she put her hind legs through a fence. Bad behaviors started popping up so I had a saddle fitter come out to check the Pessoa I had. It didn’t fit.
I then proceeded to go down saddle research rabbit hole.
Wool vs. foam, custom vs. semi custom, this brand vs. that brand. It got to the point I had an Excel spreadsheet and Word document full of information, screenshots of specs, and saddle rep contact information. To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement.
Luckily, I had a place to start. Sam’s Saddles, an online saddle consigner run by Sam Baker, came out to our barn and brought a variety of saddles with her. I think I sat in almost a dozen different saddles including County, Prestige, Amerigo, CWD, and a few others. Throughout all the trials, Fiona was very opinionated with what she liked and didn’t like so it made the process much easier.
Also, considering I pretty much only rode in my Pessoa for the past 5 years, it was also super beneficial for me to see and feel other brands to determine what I liked and didn’t like. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a saddle from Sam but she did end up selling my Pessoa and that whole experience was easy and seamless.
After that I decided custom would be the route we take. I had a Voltaire rep come out to trial their saddles and my search was over. Fiona felt great and I felt great. Done deal. I ordered my Palm Beach with buffalo leather that day and the wait began.
My saddle arrived days before Christmas and I was psyched but as we know just months later Fiona underwent Kissing Spine surgery.
Which brings us to the present. We are 4 months post-op and Fiona is ready to have a saddle on her back (sans rider). After everything we’ve put in thus far I, of course, didn’t want to put a saddle on her back until I got confirmation it would fit 100%. Here’s where Voltaire’s customer service shines.
I got in contact with my local rep and he came out to look everything over. After checking wither clearance, balance, tree position, and all the things it was decided Fiona needs front shims to lift the saddle off of her scapula. Now, this is only a temporary solution. The shims will be in place while Fiona continues her lunge work. Once I get the ‘OK’ from our vet to sit on her back and trot her around my rep will come back out to the barn to do a re-check.
At this point, he will evaluate whether or not the front shims need any further adjusting and my saddle will be sent out for new panels to be made. If you’re not familiar with the brand, Voltaire designs their saddles for panel modifications to be possible without purchasing an entirely new saddle. That being said, lifting the front of my saddle is viable and easily done. As a bonus, panel modifications only take about 2 weeks to be completed.
After I receive my saddle back with new panels, I’ll ride in it for another few weeks before, once again, my rep will come back out to the barn to verify everything is still looking good or if we need any further panel tweaks.
This is exactly the customer service and attention to detail I would want and expect when purchasing a custom saddle. In my opinion, they’re going above and beyond to ensure my saddle fits 100%. With Fiona’s Kissing Spine diagnosis and surgery, I’m now especially paranoid but feel confident that Voltaire will ensure my saddle is the perfect fit for my four-legged Cinderella.