Thursday, 7 February 2013

The saddling breakthrough

So, this may well end up reading like an ad for WOW saddles, but after today I thought it would be nice to show the changes in Assegai over the past three years. The WOW dressage saddle I bought two years ago has contributed in no small part to these changes and are worth revisiting.

When I got Assegai, he looked like this, a green broken 3 year old:
As you can see, he's low on muscle and has obvious deep wither pockets and no topline. He became increasingly aggressive over the first twelve months, a combination of pain caused by an ill-fitting saddle, chronic pain from injuries in the paddock before I got him and a sensitive soul. At least, that's my reading of the situation.

Age, work and a fair layer of fat have made him look like this:

The WOW saddle, and a beautifully fitting Pessoa jump saddle (couldn't afford two WOW saddles!) have made a huge difference to Assegai's topline, contentedness and in some way to his development and training. From the first fitting, Assegai started lifting more through his back, going forward more willingly, just trying more.

It has been frustrating - Assegai has got to be the touchiest horse going - but today was breakthrough day. As Assegai has changed shape, grown bigger and stronger, he's needed re-fit after re-fit, as I posted about earlier. Today, Julia brought her A game. :)

Two things have made a massive difference. The first was a slight change in panels. The old panels had a gap at the top, the part that forms the channel of the saddle. And this is supposed to allow more room for the musculature to move under the saddle. But for Assegai this appears to have been uncomfortable, as the Julia fitted panels that formed a snugger fit in his wither pockets. Because the pommel articulates the panels should fit quite closely.

The second change is the purchase of one of the H-girths from the WOW range. I think this has been the greatest change to date. The girth is made of two narrow padded leather straps connect on the sternum by a connector strap. The idea, from memory, is that the girth sits either side of the pectoral muscle, preventing pinching and discomforat and allowing the horse to use those muscles.

As soon as we started walking, Assegai wanted to stretch out and down, but not drop his back like usual....he went forward into trot without raising his head, happily blowing and staying on the bit. It felt amazing. He even pulled a pretty hot medium trot out of the bag!

So, I actually feel a bit excited. I've got an Official dressage comp coming up in a few weeks so I'm really interested to see what he can do. Gotta say, the WOW is probably the best investment I've made in my riding. Starting to save up for one for Rose. :)

Happy riding!


  1. Nadia, the horse is credit to you.

    initially the panels we put on the demo saddle had an extra deep rear gusset. i ordered your custom saddle with a standard 2" rear gusset in the hope that in the 6-8 weeks interim Assgai would learn to lift and round his back - which he did.

    the biggest change in this horse occured within a couple of rides - when i first met him, he would halt and stretch his hindquarters out behind him, sinking behind the shoulder. the first thing he did was bring his quarters in and under indicating a comfort level in carrying his rider. the quarters came in and under not just in halt but in all paces.

    the extra deep rear gusset was initially required to lift the rider into the correct balance but once he started lifting his back himself a standard gusset was the right thing otherwise the rider would have been FLUNG out over his head!

    the tabbed panel is designed for horses who need more room over the group of trapezius thoracic muscles -allows them to lift up into the space - with Assegai's development over the last two years his wither is more prominent - not a bad thing as evidenced by the rest of his topline - just means he is using the muscles that form the thoracic sling effectively and they are lean and contracted.

    when i saw the panels with the closed head in the saddle shed i wondered how they might work on this horse. clearly the added support is now adding comfort to his new shape.

    the WOW H girth is quite amazing isnt it? i dont push it nearly enough - i should quite literally force all my riders to use one - the benefits are so tangible. being leather they have to be more pricey unfortunately but the results are something else. No?

    i have never seen Assegai lengthen like he did yesterday - rythm and power - lovely!

    pleasure to work with a knowledgable and thoughtful rider/owner - see you again soon.


  2. ALSO Assegai used to try to do me damage when i went near him - its now really very half hearted and is easily distracted from trying to kill me by such things as butterflies and cloud formations..... :-)


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