I finally managed a ride today. Not entirely because I wanted to - the temperature was in the teens and it was very cold in the (unheated) indoor, and none of the horses had been ridden in days due to the cold, but the new saddle arrived . . .
And who can resist a new saddle? So Red and I tried it out. It arrived in very good condition, and was just as represented in the photos. And I can lift and carry it - it's a light trail model, although all leather and no cordura (my existing saddle is part cordura so it's a bit lighter). Red didn't object to saddling - no shifting around - which was a good sign. There was plenty of room in the shoulders, which has been a problem with the existing saddle.
Red was plenty feisty - it was 15 degrees and he hadn't been ridden in 4 days. But he was very, very good - there was a bit of bracing, and one episode of head bobbing and shaking at the canter - but otherwise he was very willing and cooperative. He didn't seem to mind the saddle - the seat is much harder than my existing saddle, which will take some getting used to, and I need to replace the stirrups with some of the barrel racing stirrups I have on my other saddle. The back cinch is also too short and doesn't have an attachment strap to the front cinch (pretty important). But these are all minor issues.
The only question I have is about the rear skirt of the saddle. Red is quite short in the back, and I need to be sure that the skirt of the saddle doesn't catch him in the lower back. I was riding him in a 1/2" wool pad that is short, and may need to go to a longer pad and perhaps one that is a bit thicker.
The weather tomorrow is supposed to be nasty - we got 17" of snow yesterday into today, which is one thing, but tomorrow morning wind chills are supposed to be in the -20sF. Saturday is a bit warmer - upper 20sF and Red and I should get another good shot at a saddle try out, but then Sunday afternoon we're back in the deep freeze and Monday and Tuesday look positively nasty - one day the high is -7F with wind chills of -40F. Winter . . .