My mini journey with the Sensation has thus far included multiple adjustments of course. I have no experience with treeless saddles or pads with inserts previously, so I was mining friend's experience for pearls of wisdom but figured I'd start with the Sensation pad the saddle came with. My initial impressions of the Sensation pad were that for all that I was hearing that firm foam (or some foam) was the way to go with treeless saddles, the pad was quite lacking in the foam department entirely. Also I thought the multitude of seams on the underside didn't look very friendly for rubbing about for many miles on a horse I know to be sensitive skinned. But what can you do but try!
Scrappy in Sensation with Sensation pad
regrowing hair spots at the shoulders+goop pre-ride, that's why it looks mussed, but quite even sweat mark in person, with good spine clearance shown for a super sweaty horse
In that set up I mounted, settled, Scrappy walked off, and I nearly fell on my face! I haven't mentioned yet but I have discovered that treeless saddles really make you *ride* the horse, not the saddle, if you want to stay top side and centered, that is. To me it feels like riding in a really bitchin bareback pad, in that you can feel everything in the horse's movement and have to ride with your seat but are super cushioned and comfortable at the same time. After each ride in the Sensation I have been sore as if I've been riding bareback, for sure. Those seat and quad muscles that you forgot that you had say HELLO, how are you? Oh, you thought you could walk? I also gave myself shin splints or some equivalent by hiking 3 miles steep downhill on a ride last week, hobbled for a few days after that one. So as for the falling on my face, attaching free swinging leathers (underneath a full saddle sheepskin, ah thank you) after I'd ridden it with stirrups previously attached at that base strap provided me an even freer free riding experience--and I nearly toppled forward until I got my seat properly under myself and rode the horse, not the saddle or stirrups. Once I got acclimated I no longer had buckles digging into my leg, my seat was EXTRA cushy, and oh yes, I could see doing 50 miles in this! I've been making myself check and retighten the girth multiple times as instructed, something I'm generally guilty of not doing.
So, I feel like it's improving my seat and giving me a *good* soreness, and I really enjoy the ride of the treeless. I'm certainly not fool enough to think that 40 miles of trail proves much of anything about long term saddle fit at this point, but I did feel it was promising enough to purchase the used Sensation from a fellow endurance rider. Following the advice of endurance buddies with a lot of miles riding treeless in all temperatures and geography I opted to go with a Skito saddle pad which I've just now ordered. ~*Squee!!*~ (I choose to be excited about a quality long lasting product rather than appalled over the cost of said product!) Skito has a great service on their site where you can submit a form detailing saddle fit issues and attach photos of the horse you're trying to fit; they emailed me back in about a week with advice on what inserts and foam to use and I just had to choose fabric and color and away we went. I'll be updating you all with the pad's arrival and performance of course.
current incarnation of tack, with full bridle and Myler full cheek snaffle, time for some work ON the bit instead of avoiding it, eh Scrappydoo. The saddle set up is like a memory foam bed <3
Finally I just have to add that my husband took a nasty spill the other day and my dogs have been in and out of the vet for various reasons; I can't stress enough to readers both constant vigilance re: animals (and re: adventurous husbands, apparently) AND a seriously well stocked med kit. That may be worth another blog post actually, as I have recently discovered that some of the "fully stocked" kits that you can buy can be sort of a joke and I'll be rebuilding my own kit very soon after using up most of the supplies in the last few weeks.