To jump to the end of the story first: I HAVE A NEW SADDLE!!!
Now, the back story:
If you've followed the blog for a while now, you may have gathered that I do not own a fancy dressage saddle. In fact, other than a brief stint with an nightmarishly-fitting Devoucoux that came with Ringo but had been designed with his SIGNIFICANTLY shorter previous owner in mind, I've ridden my entire life with but one dressage saddle: a swiftly aging Roosli that was my Christmas present 11 years ago. I still remember vividly finding the Roosli under the tree all those years ago--it was shiny black, a total surprise, and one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen.
Over the years, the Roosli turned from pristine black to faded and sunkissed brownish-grey, and I grew from a fat 5'3" preteen to an average-sized 5'9.5" adult. Needless to say, by 2012 the Roosli wasn't quite the perfect fitting saddle for me, but I'm a somewhat tough fit (being tall and approximately 80% thigh but also having a penchant for riding smaller, short-backed horses that make big seats and flaps difficult) and buying custom (or even new) wasn't really in the cards. So we made do. I'd occasionally make a tour of local used saddle listings, but never found anything that seemed like it was going to be remotely right.
But then, this fall, I got some exciting news over the Interwebz: Stubben was having a massive one-day sale in late November, and would be selling new and very used lightly models of many of of their different saddles for up to 60% off. My heart leapt. I love Stubbens, and had been lusting over some different Stubben models for several years now. I despise saddles with too much blocking, especially in the knee, and so the minimalist design of many of the Stubben dressage saddles appealed to me right away. I made a list of models that I thought would be good for my body type based on Internet reviews, figured out what width Ringo and Ky were in Stubben measurements... and waited.
The morning of the sale, I eagerly waited on my computer for the second it opened. As soon as the list came up, I dove in, eagerly looking for the model and size I was hoping for... and struck out. None to be had. After briefly panicking, I went through the list again, and came across a model name I hadn't seen in my original research: the Parzival. A quick google search revealed that the Parzival was a Tristan-esque model sold only in Europe.
Hmm. Reviews were pretty spartan, but from the few pictures I could dig up, it seemed like something I would like: minimal knee/thigh blocks, moderately deep seat, and an ever-so-slightly forward flap to accommodate my supah long thighs (and the fact that I still ride pretty short in dressage terms, and so usually have a little more bend in my leg than other folks). It came in a size and width I wanted, and even though the only available color was "Mud Brown" (seriously, worst color descriptor ever??), I was getting a super good vibe. And at less than 1/2 retail price, even including shipping from Europe, I thought it could be worth the gamble. With my parents' blessing (thank you thank you thank you), the purchase was done.
And then today, it arrived!!!!
(not pictured: the huge can of darkening oil I just ordered to try to reduce the heinous coloring)
I don't love the color, but I had prepared myself for it and it's not as bad as it could be (my treasured pumpkin orange Stubben jump saddle I had as a kid pretty much desensitized me to ugly coloring for the rest of my life). And, after one ride, I think I'm in love!! The flap is actually long enough to fit my leg, and isn't so bulky that I feel constantly jammed into it. The seat feels great, and isn't even as hard and uncomfortable as I had prepared for it to be (being, you know... a Stubben, after all).
Thank you so much, Mom and Dad. This is an amazing gift and I feel very, very lucky. I can't wait to start breaking it in! Though I might need some advice to figure out how to coordinate a "mud brown" saddle with my black and white horse and all my black, white, and grey stuff...