My assumption going into this exercise was that my Wintec All-Purpose Saddle (16 1/2") would not fit any of my horses and was destined to become part my log home decor or would be sold, that my generic, all-purpose brown leather English saddle (18") was okay for Fosse and Whiskey (maybe Lola) when used with the Theraflex Pad, that is was okay for Fosse and Whiskey, questionable for Lola but in a pinch would probably be okay, and that my Marathon Endurance Saddle (20 1/2" seat, total saddle size 22") may work for Lola but was probably too big and most likely would also be sold. My assumption for Lola is that a Wintec Ultra Wide or Parelli Super Wide were going to be the proper saddle for her.
We also took the time to measure the saddles several components to confirm our findings. This was quite an interesting exercise as we were able to see how gullet measurements from the outside of the saddle differed greatly from gullet measurements at the stirrup bars point underneath, padding differed, and overall design was quite varied. Here are a few images of the saddles.
Bars 22", Seat 20 1/2", Saddle 22", Gullet at Stirrup Bars 4", Gullet at Front 4 1/2"
Generic All Purpose Leather English Saddle (Above)
Bars 17", Seat 18", Gullet at Stirrup Bars 3 3/4", Gullet at Front 6 1/4"
Bars, 16 1/2", Seat 16 1/2", Gullet at Stirrup Bars 3 1/2", Gullet at Front 5 1/2"
We also looked at Lola's body shape and angles. Our findings were right on target with my assumptions. The Wintec All-Purpose Saddle does not fit any of my horses and became part my log home decor (it looks great), my generic, all-purpose brown leather English saddle is okay for Fosse and Whiskey when used with the Theraflex Pad. I've been using this one for years and really like it despite it's lower quality---thanks to the Theraflex, has worked out okay. It is questionable for Lola but in a pinch would probably be okay. We decided that Lola indeed needs a Wintec Ultra Wide or Parelli Super Wide saddle. But, we thought we'd try the Marathon Endurance Saddle despite looking a bit big as a good alternative until such time that I could purchase a new saddle for her. We tacked her up and went to play in the round pen with the intention of test riding a little in the playground.
I assessed her injuries and they were minor cuts and scrapes. I wiped her off the best I could and Clare and I took Lola to the grass, back to the round pen, and played approach and retreat. She was okay with everything and enjoyed some fresh, tall, clover outside of the round pen. I also had an apple in my pocket and she was thrilled to eat it. I hosed her legs off and gave her some bute. I played a lot of friendly all over her body and she liked that. We went back in the barn to sniff the saddle and she was fine. I put a saddle pad on her and rubbed her belly and she was okay. Clare and I also simulated cinching and once again, she was fine. We let her loose with Fosse and Whiskey and sat out in the paddock. The three about mugged us for treats and hung out. Lola seemed no worse for wear despite this harrowing experience. Clare and I wonder if she did not associate us with the experience and perhaps maybe not even the saddle. We wonder if Lola made a connection with her bucking causing this incident? What is this horse thinking? HMMM, how interesting.
A few thoughts Clare and I came away with from this experience were the following:
-Lola was looking for help and came to me when she was no longer blinded by fear and is thus, primarily sensible.
-Lola is a short horse, she is a round horse, and her buck is not that big.
-English girths are easier to remove than western cinches in an emergency.
-Prior and proper preparation for such a catastrophe is a good idea---simulate this problem because saddles can slip at anytime, especially on round horses.
-Lola should be desensitized using the flank rope exercise, by dragging things underneath her (IE hay bags, bags with cans, the small barrels), play with more straddling over large logs and barrels,lots of friendly game under her belly.
During the evening, Clare and I reviewed Lola's horsenality report and identified several things to be aware of. A few important points are that I need to give her time to respond to phase one, be creative, and not to micromanage her. I believe that over the weekend when I was playing with her (with Clare here) I was more direct line than normal, pushy, and perhaps, this affected her ability to respond to me in the round pen prior to the saddle slipping. Had we been more in harmony, she may have reacted differently. That said, we should be prepared for this kind of issue and I need to help her be calm in a dire situation.
So, as you can see, Clare, Lola, and I had quite a day full of successes, failures, and learning opportunities. Be safe and savvy with your horse, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I felt terribly guilty about this accident but Clare reminded me that Lola hadn't held any grudge and we all learned a great deal despite the circumstances. I learned what I need to work on, what saddles my horses need, and that my horse trusts me and asked for help once she was back to her thinking state of mind. Lola learned that measuring saddles was fun (she was really having a good time biting my pencil and stealing my hair scrunchy), that perhaps that bucking was not a good idea, and that I would help her if she was in danger.
There is a lot more to consider but frankly, I need more time to digest it all. I hope you never find yourself in this situation becuase it is terrifying for everyone, horse and human.