Last Tuesday’s trip to Atlanta yielded success–I came home with a brand new saddle, all my own. I think I may have sat in every close contact and jumping saddle Dover’s and Atlanta Sadddlery had in stock, but in the end, it came down to one of the first ones I sat on. Buying a saddle (without the luxury of a saddle fitter) is like buying a pair of running shoes–you don’t know what exactly you want until you try on the right pair, and then, suddenly, it just feels right. I tried out the specific models made for cross-country with super-forward flaps, but inevitably, it was the Pessoa Gen X that I fell in love with. It felt like slipping on a pair of cushy deerskin show gloves when I sat down. The twist is nice and narrow (good for my short legs and small frame), and the flaps are forward enough but not so forward that I need an extra long femur to fit them. Of course we had some fitting issues when I placed it on Johnny’s back, but short of buying a completely custom saddle (I can assure you that will happen only if I hit the lottery), I’m always going to have trouble fitting Johnny’s monstrous withers. The answer, thankfully, is a saddle pad with well-placed cushions to fill in the deep pockets on either side of his withers. I hope that as his dressage progresses, those will continue to fill in somewhat.
If you’re considering purchasing the Pessoa line with the tree exchange system, I can wholeheartedly say that it’s fairly simple to swap out gullet plates. It’s certainly not something I’d want to do every few days, but for someone with one horse who doesn’t want to have to give up a saddle should she purchase a new horse later, it’s pretty awesome. I did it single-handedly in less than 10 minutes, which is better than swapping out plates in a Wintec (it took me and my trainer together, and I’m pretty sure we both bled). It’s certainly not as easy as the awesome crank systems, but I’m not complaining.
So, why didn’t I jump on the M. Toulouse bandwagon? I did sit on the Premia and the Maricelle. And I love the crank adjustable tree system. Unfortunately, the twist was far too wide for me, and although they were both fairly comfortable, something just didn’t feel ‘right.’ They are certainly gorgeous saddles, though.