Are you familiar with the phrase, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride?” If not, you might enjoy reading about its history on Wikipedia at
The phrase and rhyme from which it comes definitely have a wistful quality. When it comes to horses, “wistful” could have been my middle name as a child. As a young girl with no horse of my own, I always envisioned myself with a stable full of steeds one day.
Reality has been decidedly different. Not too bad, mind you. But definitely different. As an adult, I have yet to keep more than four horses at a time. I never did get that stable with the indoor arena. While in theory I would still love to have a bigger herd, I have my hands full at the moment with my current set of three geldings.
But if wishes were saddles? Well then. Let me wish away.
I am especially interested in acquiring a couple of western dressage saddles. I’ve written previous posts about my interest in using basic dressage principals as I ride my gaited horses in western tack. I would like one saddle to fit my horse, Shiloh. The other to fit my horse, Piper. Bear, as you may recall, is retired. But if we are dreaming here, can we make Bear young and sound again?
While most plain old saddles work fine for my level of pursuit, Western dressage saddles tend to put the rider in a more classic dressage position, rather than more of a chair seat as happens with many western saddle varieties. They also allow the rider to feel their horse’s back, something that can be difficult to do through the bulk of many regular western saddles. The goal with the western dressage saddle is to help the rider help their horse find a more balanced way of going in keeping with the tenants of dressage.
But . . . quality western dressage saddles are few and far between. And quite expensive. And almost impossible for me to find on the used market. There is also the issue of fantasy meeting reality. A fancy saddle won’t magically make you a better rider. Even worse, sometimes that fantasy saddle does not end up fitting your horse.
How often do we make the mistake of thinking that some shiny new thing is going to dramatically improve our lives? Over the years, I have sat is some very expensive saddles across several disciplines. Usually when taking lessons or test-riding a horse for sale. I can’t say I instantly rode better because of those saddles. The feedback I received during some of those lessons definitely reflected that reality unfortunately.
At the same time, I do believe a quality saddle has the potential to help a rider get farther faster in their horsemanship. It is hard enough to “ride well” in any kind of saddle. But when we are constantly fighting to reposition ourselves due to some fault of the saddle design? Or struggle to feel what our horse is doing underneath us? It makes riding ten times more difficult.
So I keep having this saddle fantasy. I dream of wonderful quality saddles. That fit each of my horses like a glove. That look handsome with a beautiful finish and intricate tooling. That allows me to happily gait my horses off into the sunset. With my horses reflecting a deep comfort as they glide over the ground. Relaxed. Engaged. Forward.
What is my fantasy saddle of the moment? It is a DP Saddlery Quantum Short and Light Western saddle with a Dressage Seat #5028, sold through the company Lilly Tay for about $4,000. I have never sat in one, but I would sure would like to give it a try and see if reality matches my fantasy.
“This saddle is a true hybrid built on an English tree, it works for those difficult to fit horses with short backs, wide, and round horses and has wool flocked panels for extra comfort for horse and rider and is fabulous for those seeking comfort for their horse and themselves.
It also features DP Saddlery’s famous adjustable gullet so that you can change the gullet from narrow to extra wide, providing superior spine clearance for the horse.
As if it couldn’t get any better, with the added Western Dressage seat and fender style, the rider is automatically placed in a correctly balanced seat. And the stirrup bars are set back to encourage a proper leg position and discourage a chair seat.
With a softly padded seat, this saddle is ideal for long trail rides, gaited horses, and endurance riders.”
-From the Lilly Tay website at http://www.lillytay.com.
How about you, dear reader? Do you have a fantasy saddle? If so, let me know in the comments section. And by the way! Do you plan to do any shopping, saddle or otherwise, this weekend? If so, please stop by The Backyard Horse Blog on Friday morning. Assuming my computer is firing on all cylinders, I expect to have a list of horse-related shopping discounts for you to hopefully make all those Black Friday/Cyber Monday purchases more affordable.