Once again, I used my Triple Thick Woolback pad, no inserts. Despite being nekkid, the saddle weighs a ton when you're hooching it up onto a 16:3 hh horse, esp when you already have the pad under it because you just pulled the whole set-up off the trailer saddle rack.
Although the saddle is a good shape for me, I still wouldn't say that it feels good. It feels - intermittently at a walk - like the saddle is sliding over to the left and I feel the need to twist-correct it, or sit to the right. Unclear if this is me or Fergus (or the combination of us both) causing it to feel this way. On Sunday Lisa hopped on to Fergus when I mentioned this, and she said that the saddle is balanced, so it's likely me.
The only time I felt vaguely comfortable/competent was when he was trotting softly in a straight line on flat ground - you know, like almost never happens (see yellow stretches on the map below).
|Yellow = balanced Lucy trotting|
Lime green = shortening, then lengthening stirrups
Red crosses = unbuckle girth and move saddle and pad 10" forwards
Most of the time, however, even at a walk, I felt like I had tension in my legs - such that my right hip started to burn very quickly and I didn't feel at all comfortable. I finally stopped and shortened up my stirrups (lime green blob) in an effort to change the angle in my thigh (curse those blimin' blevins buckles on the stirrup leathers. Whoever invented those things is a sadist). That made my hip hurt less, but I couldn't ride sensibly on twisty singletrack trail, and definitely not at a trot, even on uphills.
Although I love the high cantle (it's what I'm used to), I'm wondering if it's pushing me too far forwards - maybe I do need less cantle? The stirrup attachment is on an adjustable bar, so I might try moving the stirrups forwards a little too to see if that helps angle me better.
The other oddity was that even though we were only going up gentle hills at a walk, the saddle and pad slid back to an alarming degree. I'd opted to forego a breast collar, knowing we wouldn't be doing any big hills, and that proved to be a mistake. I had to stop three times to move the saddle + pad forwards about 10". <squeak>
The final time I stopped to reset the saddle, I lengthened my stirrups again, and put the girth on the two front-most billets (previously the girth had been on #1 and #4). That fixed the sliding-backwards problem, so either it was my shortened stirrups pushing us back, the twisty slightly-uphill singletrack, or the girth-billet set up - I don't know which.
(I've rarely ridden without a breast collar before, but I know that pft has done at least one longer ride without one in his Sensation, and he didn't seem to have any slippage problems.)
I'm sure a lot of my problems are from years of riding (badly) in treeless saddles and it's important for me to shape up and get better at riding correctly, but it's a hard pill to swallow when you've gone from riding 50-100s without too much pain, to not being able to ride more than a few miles "correctly" without suffering from achy hips and back for a couple of days afterwards.
Oh - but one success - the sheepskin cover all but eliminated the hardness in the seat under my seatbones.
So, once again, inconclusive. I'm going to try and see if I can get a couple more miles in tomorrow morning, just along the lane on the flat dirt and see how it goes with a breast collar attached and the stirrups moved forwards.