Thursday, May 12, 2016

Eurolite Fitting Update

So my Endurance Plan this year is going about as well as my Endurance Plan went in the second half of last year, that's to say, not swimmingly ... i.e. we haven't managed a single ride yet this year. I'll admit to feeling heightened anxiety (read "mild panic") at this point akin to a newbie who's never done any rides. I don't feel ready, I don't feel my horses are ready, I don't feel our equipment fits, I'm not fit enough, etc, etc...

Part of the problem has been trying to work out saddle fit for Fergus. After spending the first few months of the year trying out various saddles, finding some that worked for him, but not for me, I finally settled on a Specialized Eurolite. As someone warned me, they are good saddles - once you get them dialled in for the horse. ...And we're still at the "getting it dialled in" stage. We're close, but given our past saddle fit problems, I'm super-picky.

This weekend, after about 14 miles, I finally felt like I'd just about got the saddle to where it needed to be for me, but found some interesting sore spots on my undercarriage today. To say I mourn the use of my Sensation* would be an understatement.

(* I'm still using it on Roo and Uno, so get to be reminded of its loveliness at regular intervals).

The nice thing about the Eurolite is the removable seat. A saddle fitter helped me by showing me just what could be done in terms of making it more comfortable for me. As a result, I now have more of a twist in the seat than I ever felt would be possible thanks to the creative use of a Sensation pommel bolster and some carefully positioned Specialized shims:

Pommel bolster + shims to add twist and make the seat work for me

She also showed me how to make knee rolls - which I needed, not being used to free-swing stirrups or lack of pommel to brace against on steep downhills.

Knee rolls. Look bodged, work great.

All these items were hidden under my trusty sheepskin... until I rode a few times and discovered that either my bum is too big, or (more likely, of course), I have a long femur (grasping at straws), resulting in feeling like the seat is too small and falling out the back of it. As it turns out, the Eurolite is a 15", my Sensation is a 15.5", and the UltraLite I demoed (which felt HUGE) was a 16". Of course.

So I sadly ditched the sheepskin cover, and proceeded to rip the crotch and knee out of a (thankfully old) pair of tights on the exposed hook-velcro on the shims on two short rides. Hmmm.

Found a few scraps of purple fleece and used them to wrap around the hook-velcro, and, voila, properly cushioned shims. Except that the purple is... well, purple, and doesn't really match anything else. I shall try to find some non-purple scraps of stretch fleece.

This was the latest in shimming on the underside for Fergus, plus widening the cushions in back to flip the front up more:

Fergus is fairly flat-backed, so needed some shims to offset the rock in the tree

we rasped down the center area of the cushions to give him more space in his bulgy areas closer to his spine
...and the latest mod was widening the area between the cushions just in the back to try and alleviate some pressure in front.

The above shimming/cushion placement still resulted in this odd ruffled area (between my fingers) after 17 miles, but it was somewhat improved compared to earlier setups:

As an experiment, on our morning quickie 3-mile blast up the lane and back, I added more shoulder shims, thinking that the offending area is just behind the pommel area on the tree, but that resulted in completely dry areas, so nix that. Apparently it's the shoulder area that is acting funky.

We're off to the Tevis Fun Ride tomorrow, so hopefully Brenda Benkly will be able to take a look at it and offer some advice on what else I can do.

Of course, predictably, this week I've decided that if I find a 16" Eurolite, I will grab it, so might end up going through this whole thing again, unless the tree turns out to be the same. Right now I can work with what I've got, but I don't love it. 

Ten weeks until Tevis. Fergus is, at this point, less than enthusiastic, but I suspect that might be because we've been training solo all year and he's lonely. We shall see how he feels this weekend in company and if he seems better, my entry will go in the mail. 

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