It's the time of year that I take a look back at what I've done over the past year, gauge my progress and chart out a possible direction for the coming year. I do this for each of my many irons in the fire.
Today, it's all about my riding and the horse aspect of my life.
Past - back riding for about two years now after being away from it and horses in general for over two decades.
Progress - good so far. Riding a variety of horses, each with their own personalities, abilities and quirks. Learning and sharing with riders of all ages and levels. Much success in finding others tack (new & used at excellent bargains) and accessories.
Projection (and this is where it gets interesting, folks!) - My friend P has recently started jumping instruction. We were able to find her not one, but two replacement training saddles the Friday after Thanksgiving. When she started the discussion on the jump lessons, I started to think about where I wanted to go with my riding.
For me, jumping is OUT, as my ankles won't handle the stress of it. But I had been thinking I wanted to do more focused riding.
I mulled and mulled and then made the mistake of posing a hypothetical question to my trainer, regarding which bit I would need in the event I decided to pursue schooling dressage, bearing in mind I was only THINKING about it. It's like talking to myself - she was doing the happy dance at the very idea!
Deciding to school dressage is another level of commitment to riding, requiring entirely different tack and equipment. Thankfully, I am NOT thinking about showing at this point, as that would break the checkbook!! But new tack, and more specifically dressage tack, especially the saddle, even used, is expensive. There is still some money set aside for my horse activities but I don't want to deplete it on gear & not all in one huge chunk.
This set off a few visits to local tack shops to try out some different brands of used dressage saddles and start the research process. Yes, new is totally out of the questions as I insist on real leather and a brand new real leather dressage saddle is roughly half the price of a good used car - before you buy the leather, stirrups and girth! YIKES!!
Come Spring, there will be local 4H tack sales but there's no guarantee I will find something suitable in the size I need. And the largest and most promising sale is 4 months away...
What's a Shopping Maven to do?? Research, research, research and hunt online of course! Patience is not my long suit but I learned a lot, sat a few different brands and then, found this online:
It's an older model dressage saddle by Zaldi (a fourth generation Spanish company who has been making saddles for over 100 years). They are more well known in Europe and the UK. Zaldi dressage saddles are used at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Arts. They also make trekking, endurance, side saddles, traditional Portuguese saddles, as well as many kinds of specialty children's and special needs saddles.
It should arrive sometime this week, fingers crossed. I took a bit of a risk on this as, of course, I didn't have a chance to sit it. If it doesn't work out, I'll be selling it on at one of the upcoming tack sales and be back at square one in the dressage saddle hunt.
Hypothetical, my butt! I'm starting down a new riding path for 2015.