From Endurance to Dressage
I had an appointment with Tina Hoover, saddle fitter, late yesterday afternoon after the Tehachapi show. I got back from the show before 1:00 so I took a chance that she might be willing to come to my barn earlier than scheduled. In the original plan, I was going to load both boys and drive over to Robertson's Stables for the fitting. Luckily, I caught her just as she was finishing her lunch and Googling things to do. She was at my barn before 2:00.
Tina is a sales rep for a variety of equine products as well as a knowledgeable saddle fitter. She's based in the Los Angeles area, but will travel to wherever you are. Lori, a local rider and photographer (see her work at Simplee Focused), arranged for Tina's visit.
Tina's schedule for Sunday and Monday included 17 fittings! She's done my saddles twice now, and I have found her to be very knowledgeable about saddles and other tack (she gave me some excellent bridle fitting advice). She's also a genuinely nice person. You can find her contact information here. If you're interested in meeting her today, she'll be at Quiet Creek Ranch (331 Wegis Avenue, Bakersfield, CA) first thing this morning and all afternoon. She'll be at Leslie Webb's until lunch.
When she was here last, my saddle took quite a bit of work to even out the flocking to achieve a level fit. And since I use it on two different horses, Tina took some extra time to accommodate both boys' shapes. Last year, it was determined that Speedy was the rounder of the two. She encouraged me to ditch the half pad and ride him with just a thin saddle pad. As Sydney was narrower, she suggested a dressage pad with a riser pad.
For this visit, she was pleasantly surprised to find that both boys had changed in shape, but in very good ways. Speedy has become narrower which she attributed to better muscling. Sydney is now wider than before which is also due to a better developed top line. She laughed and said that both horses had morphed into the same shape of back.
She added a little bit of flocking and did some shifting of the flocking, but not much. She placed the saddle on Speedy and was pleased with how level it sat. She had me ride around for a few minutes to see if it felt level and comfortable. My one complaint before the adjustment was that it felt as though it was slipping a bit to the right. Speedy is more slab sided to his right and rounder to his left. Her adjustment corrected that feeling.
We pulled the saddle from Speedy and sat it on Sydney. Last summer, it wanted to fall a bit in the front since he was narrower than Speedy. This time it sat nearly perfectly level. When she pressed the magic button on his belly, he lifted his back and filled in the saddle nicely. No more riser pad needed!
I am fairly new to the world of English saddles. My first two saddles were western, both of which were given to me. I've owned three endurance saddles; none of which could be adjusted. My first two English saddles were Wintecs that didn't have flocking. This saddle is the first nice English saddle I've had; I bought it two years ago. I can see how regular adjustment will prolong the life of the saddle as well as ensure that it fits my horses comfortably.
If you've never had your saddle's flocking replaced or adjusted, I heartily recommend that you try to have it done. I don't know what other saddle fitters charge, but Tina charged $80 for the fitting. Not that I have money to toss around, but since she made a special effort to come out to my barn, which saved me from having to haul my ponies around, and she took the time to check the fit on Sydney, I gave her an extra $20. So technically, I spent $50 for each horse. That seems like a bargain to me!
With regular chiropractic work and a well fitting saddle, I know that any resistance to training is poor riding on my part as opposed to a pain issue. Good thing I have a lesson this afternoon. Show report tomorrow ...
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: