From Endurance to Dressage
I just finished another Thorndyke mystery, Pontifex, Son and Thorndyke. Dr. Thorndyke is a fictional detective who, with the help of both his partner, Jervis and his lab technician, Polton solve crimes by gathering forensic clues. The short stories and novels were written from 1907 - 1941, long before the police relied on fingerprints and DNA evidence. I love the stories because Thorndyke relies on hard evidence to solve his cases rather than just good inferencing.
This summer, Izzy's "issues" have left me feeling like a detective myself. Ever since coming home from Croatia in mid-June, Izzy has been a hot mess. I've written post after post describing the many ways I have investigated his Not Quite Rightness. He has had body work twice, he's been on GastoElm to soothe his stomach, he has seen the farrier, I've consulted the vet, and I've talked to my trainer. I've seen evidence of improvement, but then something else crops up. The other day, it occurred to me that saddle fit might have become an issue
It might seem like I am grasping for straws here, but I don't think so. Instead, I'm working the problem, or problems. I saw Izzy step on a rock and walk off lame. That lameness seemed to have led to the need for body work. Now that Izzy has recovered from the stone bruise and seems sound from a chiropractic sense, I can tell that something is still not quite right. One "symptom" that has come and gone over the years is Izzy's tension while being tacked up.
I keep a hay net filled where I tack up. Izzy is happy to nibble while having his feet picked out or being groomed. Lately, as soon as I put the pad or saddle on, his back tenses up and he flinches almost as though he's having a spasm of some kind. I've tried a lot of things to reduce this tension, and they seemed to have worked until this summer. This week, I started to wonder if my saddle might be causing some discomfort. I had it adjusted last August which meant it was probably due.
I reached out to Tamara Solange, a saddle fitter and County Saddlery representative, and asked if she had time in her schedule to see us. Fortunately, she was in between road trips - she travels all over southern California fitting saddles, and was able to see us yesterday. I gave a brief run down of all that has happened so far this summer while she listened thoughtfully. I also told her that Izzy has gained nearly a hundred pounds since she last adjusted my saddle.Once I was finished, she placed the saddle on Izzy's back without any padding. Right away she noticed that my saddle was twisting a bit because one panel had flattened a bit more than the other.
Tamara then sat down with my saddle and got to work. As she ran her fingers along the underside of my saddle, a few things stood out to her. Besides one panel being a bit flatter than the other, she also felt that the tree points didn't have enough padding which might be causing some bruising. Just like last year, she felt that the saddle is a bit wide on Izzy, but nothing that correct padding won't fix.
Working with her tools, Tamara slowly added a bit more more padding here and there, especially around the saddle's "points." She also firmed up the area of the panels directly under my seat so that once I am in the saddle, there will be sufficient padding between my butt and Izzy's back. While she worked, Tamara happily answered all of my questions. She clearly loves her job and was happy to share her knowledge about correct saddle fit. Once she was finished, we tacked Izzy up like always, and to my relief, he showed none of the tension he's shown this summer. It was even more telling because we weren't at home. Just being somewhere else should have been enough to cause tension, but it didn't.
My job over the next few days is to continue to tack him up and monitor his response. I am not riding quite yet as Izzy tore open the side of his pastern while we were in Cambria - more on that injury next week, but Tamara wants some feedback because she'll be in Bakersfield on Monday and would like to make any additional corrections if needed. Even if the new fit has no affect on his tension while saddling, I am still happy to have had Tamara make the adjustments she did as they were needed no matter what.
Now, if only Izzy would stop hurting himself. I'd like to close this case!
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%: