Pie, Dawn, Drift and I had a visit from a Master Saddler today - he's a real English Master Saddler, trained according to their rules - apprenticeship and numerous tests are part of this - and certified as such - he worked for many years in England before coming to the States and even worked on the bridles that were part of the harness of the horses that pulled the carriage at the recent royal wedding.
His visit was to evaluate my horses so that we can have my Kieffer dressage saddle reflocked - it's at least 15 years old (it came with Noble when I got him back in 1997), and the flocking is compacted, particularly in the front along the gullet and in the back panels. The goal is for it to fit Drift - the tree is just right for him and with the reflocking the saddle should sit just perfectly on him. Pie is a bit narrower in the withers/shoulder area than Drift, and Dawn has narrower withers and is also built a bit downhill, so they will likely still need shims (I use a Mattes correction pad). I'm also planning to get a custom trail saddle for Pie once he's back in work and muscled up - I think he may have finally stopped growing and has probably filled in about as much as he's going to. Here's the saddle - it's the Lech Profi Professional model, and is a really nice saddle that is very comfortable for me - in this picture, it's on Dawn without any shim pads, so it's sitting somewhat low in the front:
With each horse, the saddler used a flexible jointed stick to do a tracing of the top line, with regular intervals marked off - he used a washable marker to mark the intervals right on the horse. Then separate tracings were taken for each horse at each interval. Here are the results - you can see how differently shaped the three horses are.
First, here are Dawn's tracings (she's about 15.1 hands and is a TB) - she has high, although not narrow, withers, and isn't that broad, and her top line - the last tracing at the bottom - rises towards her hindquarters - hence she's downhill:
Here is Pie - he's about 15.3 hands and is a QH - he's got some withers, is a bit narrow through the shoulder and is fairly broad behind, with a nice, level back:
And here's Drift - he's a QH, and although he's only about 14.3 hands, he's quite broad through his whole body and also has a nice level back:
All three horses - even Drift - were perfect for the saddler, standing still and being completely cooperative - he complemented me on their excellent manners (apparently many of the horses he sees don't have good manners). I had taken the precaution of riding Drift before the appointment and giving him a good workout, which I think helped, but I was very proud of him for not fidgeting. Dawn and Pie are mostly pretty good for things like this, and lived up to their reputations (Pie made a couple of "Pie faces" at the unusual goings on).
I'll be dropping my saddle off on Friday and it'll be ready by Sunday, all refurbished - the all in cost of $375 for the fitting and reflocking is a lot less than the cost of a new saddle. The horses and I should be happy with the results.