1. What is the saddle construction ?
The body is constructed from heavy skirting leather as are the side jockeys. The pommel and cantle are covered with lighter weight leather of the same type as the body. The seat leather is fairly heavy but very soft pebble grain leather. The underside is suede. The seat and underside are lined with really comfy closed cell foam. The pommel and cantle are made from denser closed cell foam. The stirrup leathers are leather but I am experimenting with a biothane option.
2. What is on the bottom of the saddle?
Leather suede is on the bottom of the saddle.
3. What are the stirrup attachments like, and how fastened? Are they recessed --or cause a lump or even small ridge under rider’s leg?
I have several stirrup attachments that I have experimented with over the years and it’s something I discuss with each client as to which they prefer when I am building their saddle. I can use 2” roller buckles which make a slight ridge that I put padding around so that the average rider does not feel the bump much, if at all. When I use this option I make 2 positions for stirrup leathers, one under the rider and the other 2” forward. This option uses stirrup leathers that are interchangeable. Second, I can lace the leathers onto the saddle which makes no bump or ridge, but then they are in place forever and can’t be taken off easily.
Also I can use the traditional English breakaway hardware with the breakaway welded so it won’t activate. This allows for only one position for the leathers, but does give the option of using different leathers from time to time. It also produces a minimal ridge not easily noticeable under the heavy skirting leather that I put over them. Finally, there’s a new system, invented by my mechanical/manufacturing engineer husband, which would produce no bump and many positions (under rider or many choices as to how far in front) but would not allow interchangeable leathers. The hardware takes a little getting used to for moving the positions.
4. How can adjustments be made for changes of shape, weight of the horse?
The pommel has some flex to it so it will adjust to a certain degree to fit different horses. I have been amazed at the variety of backs that my basic model fits from relatively low withered wide back old fashioned quarter horses to relatively high withered Arabs, gaited horses, etc. My primary riding horse is a 24 year old gelding whose back is changing and so far the saddle changes with him. I check regularly and it molds to his shape when it’s on him and still molds to the shape of my 3 year old when it’s on him. One can also use different padding systems for adjusting to a specific fitting issue.
5. How is the weight of the rider distributed over the horse’s back?
The heavy skirting leather of the body and the 1” foam lining on the underside distribute the weight. There is a 2” wide clearance down the spine and no pressure goes on the spine from rider or attachments.
6. How is the weight of the stirrups (as in 2-point) distributed?
The stirrup leather attachment goes over the top of the saddle and comes down the side where there is stainless steel hardware to attach the stirrup leathers. The "over the top attachment" is secured on the sides by glue, rivets, and stitching so there is no pressure over the withers or back of the horse. The panels on the underside also keep localized pressure off the back of the horse. I sometimes lace the stirrup leathers on the over the top attachment for people who want no hint of a bump under their thighs. But the basic system stays the same except the hardware is replaced by laces.
7. What kind of pad do you recommend under the saddle?
I recommend only a Dixie Midnight. In fact I require a Dixie Midnight when one uses a demo to protect the saddle from sweat when being test ridden. I send one out with the saddle. Some people use other pad systems with my saddles.
8. Do the saddles slip? The saddles do NOT slip when being mounted from the ground. When being ridden, they do not slip from front to back on a horse with average withers. On a horse with no withers, it would be advisable to use a crupper on steep terrain to be sure that it doesn't slide forward on the downhill.
9. How long are the saddles from front to back? I have made saddles from 19 inches to 26 inches from front to back. I could make one longer than 26 inches but not much shorter than 19 inches.
10. Do you have a demo policy? I have to know your height, weight, inseam length and jeans size to determine if one of my demos would be close to fitting you. I don't charge for the demoing itself but I do require a deposit for the value of the saddle plus shipping, insurance and Paypal fee if you choose to use Paypal. If you return the saddle in the same condition it was sent, you get a full refund minus shipping, insurance and Paypal fee. If the saddle is just what you want and you don't need further customization, you can keep it.
11. How much do these saddles weigh? They weigh over 15 pounds and under 25 pounds depending on the size of the saddle and options that are added. If you already own the appropriate girth/cinch, stirrups, etc. it cuts down the weight which decreases shipping costs.