Even though I had my heart set on a Bob Marshall treeless endurance saddle, I couldn’t find a used one, which was all I could afford, anywhere near me. When I saw a used Barefoot Nevada saddle for sale just an hour away from us, I decided to go and check it out. I sat in it at the seller’s and it was, in my opinion, the most comfortable saddle Ever. I could only hope Kai thought so too.
The point of today’s session was to test out a new saddle.
I tacked him up and started with the pre-ride checks. I asked Kai to go on the circle and he took off running and doing the occasional buck. I put on more pressure when he bucked. Kai usually doesn't canter in the indoor arena because the space is so tight but today he felt spunky enough to canter.
The saddle kept sliding back on him, just like the bareback pad. I invited Kai in every couple of circles to readjust the saddle.
When he was circling lightly and responsively I decided we would work on jumping the cones to see if Kai felt comfortable jumping with the saddle on.
Kai followed me while I set up the pylon for him to jump. Next I sent him with energy to the obstacle and asked him to stop a stride before the jump. I then sent him the other way, this time asking him to go all the way over.
On the next circle I asked him to stop halfway over. Kai stopped so lightly and gracefully that I went over to him and gave him a cookie. Then I readjusted the girth and decided I would ride a little bit. I asked Kai for lateral flexion before and after mounting. Next I asked him to follow the rail and began to do some small circles at the walk and then the trot. Kai did not feel more stiff than usual even though he was wearing the saddle. I asked Kai to stop and then back up. What felt interesting was that Kai seemed to almost float backwards. What a good boy! I then asked him to trot on the rail and he did the most amazing thing! I felt him lift his back for a few steps! I have never felt him do that before! I asked him to stop and gave him a cookie before dismounting. I walked around the arena with him to cool him down before untacking him. I asked him to bow and gave him the last of my cookies before putting him back in the paddock.
Further thoughts on the Barefoot Nevada saddle:
My opinion is that it is the comfiest saddle I’ve ever ridden in, but I’ve only ridden in about 20 saddles during my various lessons before I had Kai. Keeping in mind that I am used to the freedom of riding bareback for the last 8 months, this saddle felt much less restrictive than a typical Western Saddle. I felt I could move with him a lot easier compared to a treed Western saddle.
Kai’s opinion is that he would have never lifted his back in a restricting saddle, so he definitely doesn’t hate it.