My Journey Starts
I have a hard to fit horse, I have probably always had hard to fit horses. I just know more now than I did then. That is the beauty of the equine industry, no matter which part you participate in. There is always something knew to learn.
Dixie, a quarter horse mare, with asymmetrical shoulders is where my saddle fitting journey began. I didn’t have a saddle that fit her, not one! The hunt began for a saddle that would help, she already had white hairs and they were only going to get worse if I didn’t do something about it.
I wish I could say that I dreamed up the System X, but it came from a long and rich history of trial and error, which is what gave us all this superior panel that does what those first panels were starting to do. Redistribute the weight of the rider over a wider area and flex with the movements of the horse.
How I Started in Horses
My education in the world of horses started when I was a child, the tender age of 7. Dad went out of town on business. So my mother took it upon herself to ask for forgiveness rather than permission to get me my first horse. When my dad got home he wasn’t pleased because now he had fence to build.
Mom immediately put me in lessons, found a 4-H group for me to join so I could go to the fair. My life in horses started to take off. I learned more in those formative years because of the instructors and 4-H leaders that I had than many horse owners will encounter in a lifetime.
Getting Back into Horses
I am almost a half century old now and I have to say that I was blessed with the childhood I had with horses.
As an adult I wanted to get horses myself again. I bought my farm at 22, where I moved my house to and moved an old shed to as well. There I began my adult life with horses and adopted two Standardbreds from American Standardbred Adoption Program in Viroqua, WI.
I worked with them, fostering among other things for a few years before striking out on my own with my now ex-boyfriend. We founded the Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation together and when we parted, I let the program go with him, where it thrives.
Furthering My Equine Education
During that time I became Certified in Equine Sports Massage Therapy from the Institute of Equine Therasage, in Janesville, WI. This was 2002 and Equine Massage was a new thing in the local Wisconsin equine community.
Needless to say my massage business never took off like I’d hoped, maybe if the timing had been different. Although I believe that it was just the prep work for where I have ended up.
Changing careers again, which is where my life in Information Technology began and I remained in for 15 years.
If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I did not coin that phrase, but it has been my life for a long time. I loved my work in the IT world. It was because again, I was never going to know everything and there was always going to be something new to learn.
That the equine industry, never going to know everything, and that’s OK. You’re always going to have something new to learn, which will keep it interesting and engaging. That is what I loved about IT, that is what I have always loved about horses.
When I am working on a saddle or working with a horse, it engages all of my being. There are no thoughts of the troubles that are going on in life, no worrying in that moment about things you cannot change. There is just me and whatever I am working on. Satisfying to say the least!
Is There a Better Fitting Saddle?
There is so much to learn and so many things to improve on, I began looking for a saddle that was of a new technology. Rather than the old that obviously wasn’t working for my girl, Dixie. I kept thinking there had to be a better way. Being a computer geek at the time I was doing some keyword searching. Where I ran across Hillview Farm’s website and their Evolutionary Saddle.
I read that 1995 website from cover to cover. There was a books worth of information out there and I devoured it all. I watched that website and planned my custom saddle, since at the time I couldn’t afford one. After waiting several years I saved the money, so I was going to make the trip to buy or order a saddle. Yeah, I bought a saddle off the rack because as soon as I sat in it, it was coming home with me. It is the saddle that I ride in to this day.
I bought the saddle in February. I had a few months to wait to have my first rides in it. Offering to put first rides on all my friends horses just to get a chance to try the saddle on all the different shapes. To see if it lived up to what the website had told me. It certainly did exactly what it said it would.
A Good Fit for Dixie
As mentioned earlier Dixie had asymmetrical shoulders, meaning that one was slightly smaller than the other. Part of this was her compensating for the arthritis that precipitated her retirement, but also because all the other saddles that were used on her put a lot of pressure on that shoulder, pinching her.
As we used the saddle more, her topline evened out now that she had room to move under the saddle. The saddle moving with her. I remember those first rides when I could feel the panels move under me. Dixie also like the saddle, you could tell by the way she moved and behaved.
It Fit All of the Other Horses I rode
I have ridden many miles on a wide variety of horses that have been shaped so differently that for a while I was continually amazed at the results.
So I took the saddle on a real test. The Silver Spur Ranch World Famous Horse Drive in Idaho. My riding partner also took her saddle to ride in on the horse drive. We rode five days, 20 miles a day over mountainous terrain. We watched the wranglers have to make all kinds of pad variations. Trying to prevent their horses from getting sore, especially over the loin.
Each morning we’d see them check their horses’ backs. Eventually they stopped checking the two horses that we were riding as our saddles weren’t soring their horses. So not only were we comfortable during all those miles, so were the horses we were assigned for the week!
Thank you Dixie!
If it weren’t for her, that started me on the journey to find a better saddle for her, I wouldn’t have found the Evolutionary Saddle. I wouldn’t have wanted to learn how to build them and wouldn’t have ever had the opportunity that presented itself in 2020.
Now that she is retired, I continue to test my saddle on any horse or pony that I get the chance to ride. Continuing to learn, from the horses, ponies, mules and donkeys that I come into contact with. Each one providing an education that you just can’t get anywhere else.