Brunch with the Bua
When we all migrated south, I was most sad about leaving two things: the first was my hairdresser (seriously, she can cut a mean bob, has a heart of gold and I am proud to call her a friend).
The other thing was my saddle fitter.
I wasn't saddle shopping at this point. Frankly, I was kind of horse shopping. Spicy has always been difficult (re: a big pain in the butt, bless him) and while working with him has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, I wanted a horse I could just swing a leg over and enjoy. If he was semi-retired it wouldn't matter if I had a saddle. More often than not I found myself reaching for my bareback pad anyway.
Then freakin' Jen had to go try the Bua.
Her review is extremely thorough, so I'd recommend reading it. A lot of the things she liked I also did, so I won't duplicate it here. But I did end up having a different experience in some ways.
- Wither Clearance. This saddle has some serious, drive-a-truck-through-it, wither clearance. I could see how some riders might feel like the saddle is far away from the horse. I didn't feel like this was the case with Spicy. I've always ridden with a Mattes pad under my saddle, and frankly the Bua didn't feel much different than that. But you know who felt a big difference? The horse.
|Seriously, there's daylight. In the gullet.|
- Cantilevered Tree. Jen mentioned in her review that the seat felt quite bouncy. I didn't notice this at all, and after talking with her a little I think the rider's weight might have something to do with it. If you're teeny, you're going to notice more bounce. I notice hardly any bounce, but I have at least 40 pounds on Jen. I am ample.
What the cantilevered tree ended up meaning for me was I was never 'catching' Spicy in the back. If he scooted or spooked and left me unbalanced, he used to be able to feel it. It was almost like catching him in the mouth. I couldn't believe how much differently his spooks went when we weren't accidentally playing off each other.
Depending on the horse, this could muddle signals your hips and seat typically give. Again, not an issue I found I had. I am able to give cues just as quiet - or maybe even more so - than I did in a regular treed saddle. It could be the cantilever is cutting out the 'noise'. Or maybe it's just allowing us both to relax enough that our communication happens more fluidly.
- Support. Irish Saddles USA really held my hand through the entire process. He endeavored to make sure both Spicy and I had a good experience, and was in touch with the inventor frequently to get the right fit. Even after a few months, he reached out to see how things were going and make sure I was still happy. He offered to recheck the fit at any time and made sure I knew he was a resource for any questions I still had.
He also gave good tips on how to pitch buying a new saddle to my wife so I would get in less trouble, which is the kind of enabling I think we all need.
The week trial went so well I ended up buying the freakin' saddle. Even so, I was extremely judgemental and skeptical every time I put it on. I had thought the County was the magic bullet as well, and it ended up being A HOUSE OF LIES. Each ride I girthed up and thought, "this is it. This is the day he tells me I just wasted another couple paychecks on false promises."
But he never did.
I didn't realize it until the US distributor put together a little montage of clips I had sent over the prior six months. I saw a horse slowly getting more relaxed. Trusting more. Scratching the surface of lossgelassenheit. He got super rideable and was significantly less spooky. I found myself riding because I was actually enjoying myself. I started making plans for lessons, trail rides, maybe even a little dressage show.
Did the smell of calfskin and privilege wash over me when I opened the box? No. But I haven't gotten the ensuing wave of regret either. The saddle does exactly what I need it to: allow me to enjoy my horse.