Yesterday and today....ALL DAY....Marc, Madison and I were at her riding instructors barn to participate in a saddle fitting session. Twice a year, Madison's instructor has Schleese Saddlery come to her barn and if you choose to have a custom saddle fit session, you and your horse will be measured and analyzed for body conformation and movement.
It was fascinating and I firmly believe that anyone who rides a horse, whether for pleasure or show, should be required to participate in something like this. I learned a great deal about the anatomy of the horse, functionality of movement and the importance of the saddle fitting both the horse and the rider.
After Ka Ching was measured and studied, Denise, the saddle fitting expert, placed several custom made Schleese saddles on Ka Ching's back. It blew my mind to watch and see with my eyes, the phrase, "The horse picks the saddle." It was spot-on accurate! Ka Ching made known her dislike of one saddle by flinching, tucking under, getting squirrly, and being obstinate. The next saddle she worked 'ok' under, but didn't seem to enjoy it. Finally, Denise put on the HK, or Heike Kemmer model and Madison and the horse moved like a symphony. Ka Ching was fluid and stretched her back, reached under, and enjoyed the movement. Madison loved the saddle too for MANY reasons.
For a variety of reasons, we chose to wait until this fall to have the Heike Kemmer model saddle hand-made by Schleese for Madison to do her dressage work. Trust me when I say, it is a beautiful piece of workmanship with loads of science behind its functionality but those attributes carry an equally steep price tag....one that rivals a full year of tuition, room and board at any 4 year university!
Madison and Ka Ching were also fitted for a hunt seat/jumping saddle and found a match-made-in-heaven. She is now the proud owner of her first Schleese Saddle. A perfectly fitting saddle for Ka Ching and a fabulous saddle for Madison to begin her jumping training. Of course we needed to also buy the matching girth, stirrup leathers and pads so she is set with a complete ensemble. And to ensure Marc didn't feel left out, he got a Schleese baseball cap. Woohoo!
One thing is for sure. Madison is Daddy's little girl. He watched her ride and saw the pleasure that both she and the horse experienced and he knew he couldn't say no to his girl. I knew that look in his eye. One that said he was hiding the tear in his eye watching his baby girl do what brings her her greatest joy and seeing her excel and succeed.
I enjoyed...in a sick, perverse way... watching Marc almost cry when Denise told him that Madison has a unique pelvic structure and leg length that makes her a custom order kind of girl and definetely a not-off-the-rack kind of girl! That's my girl!!!!!
She's in bed asleep already. After we trailered home, she saddled up and rode in her new saddle, on a happy horse, outside in the glorious sun. I can think of few things that bring me greater joy than watching one of my kids thoroughly enjoying life.