I have two Specialized saddles that I love and have had great success with shimming to various backs, but my new horse has a very short, flat back and very round barrel. I rode him in an LD with a Specialized not realizing how smooshed my (well used) fitting cushions were, and the saddle slid and gave him sore spots. Not having new fitting cushions right at hand and not ready to pay for more at the moment, I decided to make what I had work with no further expense. Enter this relatively "lightweight" leather Abetta trail saddle:
First Things First: Stirrups
As I mentioned, the hard narrow leather stirrups were terrible on the feet over even low miles. The fenders were too fat at the bottom to just attach my spare endurance stirrups normally, so N and I chatted about the possibilities of rigging on endurance stirrups when we rode the other day. She suggested a method she'd seen and read about where you use dog collars or some strong strap equivalent to "lash" the stirrups on the bottoms of the fenders.
Now I must pause to confess that one bridle died in the making of this happy saddle saga. I had a bizarre bitless/sidepull/something-or-other beta bridle that was given to me years ago and had never fit any of my horses to my liking. There were ropes and loops and rings and all sorts of salvageable parts on it so I started unbuckling and cutting things off.
I used two thick beta straps unbuckled off the bridle and wrapped twice around the stirrup and the bottom of the fender, and liked the free swinging feel of the stirrups this way, as it accommodates the angle of my stiffer right ankle. Obviously only some longer test rides will tell the success of it:
When In Doubt, Organize Something
I got annoyed and impatient at this point, posted a whiny query about removing the horn on Facebook, and started therapeutically rearranging my tack room instead. Tah.Dah.
When the husband got home he told me to persevere and located two more used sawsall blades, so I promptly dulled the last two blades, cursing a blue streak. I was momentarily at a loss when my husband suddenly had a Thor moment, grabbed a mallet, and whacked the horn at the base where I'd been cutting and SNAP the thing came flying off!
Awesome! I sanded down the lumpy cut lines from the sawsall and the little bit of glue and metal sticking up where the horn had been, then got super classy with it and wrapped the pommel in my signature Zebra duct tape and added the full saddle cover fleece:
Looking more comfortable already!
With the horn gone, the stirrups rigged, and the saddle cover on, my last issue was attaching pommel bags and breastcollar. The saddle didn't have any rings up front, just two leather tabs for running excess girth strap back up through and two more smaller tabs closer to the pommel that had long leather strings woven through it. At first I rigged rings on each side with zip ties but I didn't think they were strong enough so I removed the zip ties and leather straps from the small top loops entirely and looped beta bit hangers, with an extra ring on each, on to the leather tabs. That way I had the ring to clip to and run pommel straps through, and the clip of the bit hanger hanging that I could attach things to: