I'm ordering a light-weight (relatively speaking - under 25 lbs.) About the Horse trail saddle - it's lighter weight because of the elimination of excess material and because it's part cordura. Dave at About the Horse also makes classic ranch, barrel and reining saddles. These saddles are not cheap, and are very hard to find used - people tend to hang on to them once they have them. I've admired these saddles for years and think their design makes a lot of sense. Here's a link to a summary of the features, which are based on the anatomy of the horse. Dave now makes all his own trees, and it's the combination of the tree design and rigging design that makes the difference, I think. Dave's saddles are designed to be used with a properly fitted back cinch (e.g. not loose), or else a Y cinch attachment using a single cinch but with extra-long latigos using both cinch attachment points. The most distinctive part of these saddles, in addition to their beauty and excellent workmanship, is the flare of the tree at the shoulders, and at the back. Due to the rigging and tree design, the tree sits firmly on the fascia of the back, while allowing ample room for the horse's shoulders and hindquarters to move without interference from the saddle. I've seen horses who were having trouble moving switched into one of these saddles with almost instant transformation of their way of going, since their shoulder movement is no longer constricted.
I've talked at some length with Dave by phone, and have e-mailed him pictures of the boys from different angles, have mailed him the updated back tracings - it's interesting to see the changes in the boys' shape from 9 months ago as their top lines have developed - and I took a few more photos of the boys with the About the Horse saddle my trainer uses sitting on them without a pad and uncinched so Dave can see the clearances with the #2 tree that saddle has.
Here is a set of pictures of Pie - the flare at the front of the saddle is easy to see on him:
And here is Drifter - the saddle fits him more closely in the shoulders but there's still adequate clearance:
So, the process is getting underway, and I'm pretty excited (but then I'm saying that a lot these days)!
Now for a completely gratuitous picture of the two youngest barn kitties at Heather's place, nestled on my Diamond Wool pad:
Visit the next post for an update on how the boys are doing . . .