Here’s a little blog to say that I invested in a Ghost saddle in an impulsive moment early in December and I’m an extremely happy bunny!
I’ve been reading about Ghost saddles for ages on Facebook and other social media. They are still relatively new in the treeless saddle arena, but the feedback I found was almost unanimously positive. The saddles sort of seeped into my consciousness until one day I pretty much woke up and decided I needed to try one.
The background here is that I’ve been a convert to treeless since the early 2000’s. It started when my mate Jackie came to visit and brought her Bob Marshall sports saddle with her. At the time I was riding Cob Joe in a Wintec Cob Saddle that had been fitted for him and thought we were doing pretty well. However, under the Bob Marshall Joe suddenly found impulsion and extension that I’d never realised he had and was clearly much more comfortable. Real food for thought. That led to the purchase of a Dartmoor Treefree saddle, as designed and sold at the time by a thoroughly good bloke called Tom Widdicombe. That trusty saddle saw me through backing Fire, my Arab mare, and travelled to the Silversand Horsemanship Centre in Australia twice, where I used it to ride with Steve Halfpenny.
I’ve owned and ridden in a lot of treeless saddles over the years, won’t bore you with details because that’s probably a whole other blog, I think the full list is:
Fitform, Ansur, Solutions, Bob Marshall, Dartmoor Treefree, Heather Moffett, Torsion, Freeform, Sensation, Barefoot
I have a great Sensation saddle that I love to ride in, so why did I need to buy a Ghost? Well the answer is that I didn’t, and really I only intended to rent one to trial… but… I had a chat to Louise at Equine Whispers and yes, she had a saddle I could loan to trial. We had a rather long chat in fact, about fitting and riding in them and Louise was very enthusiastic and helpful. I found myself asking if she had a Quevis in stock… and she had… and buying it. Just like that! This was only a couple of weeks before being booked to ride with Jeff Sanders, and I just felt it would be a good saddle to use. The only minor criticism I have of my Sensation is that I feel I don’t manage to get subtle and effective leg contact with it. I really liked the minimal look of the Quevis and thought it would give me really good feel from my legs.
Very quickly the saddle arrived and it was indeed a thing of beauty. Louise had given me advice on fitting it and asked me to send photos. I plonked it on Celebrity and was lucky, it just sat on him perfectly. If it hadn’t it would be easy to adjust by moving the Velcro’d panels and maybe tweaking things with the saddle pad. I used a Christ Lammfelle pad that I already owned, which worked very well with no shims. A bit of fiddling with the girth rigging (you can wiggle about a bit to get the girth in the right place for your horse) and I was happy. As you can see from the photo, ideally we needed a slightly longer girth. It appears that Celebrity has been eating all the Thunderbrook pies! So it looks like I’ll be forking out for another, longer, banana girth sometime very soon.
When I had my first hack out on the saddle I chose to ride with the stirrups on the further back of the two settings and that’s where they have stayed. It felt as if rather a lot of “hip opening” was happening, which resulted in a bit of an ache in unmentionable areas. However my stirrup leathers had gone down 2 holes just as a result of my changed, and I think improved, position – so some transition was to be expected. Since that first ride I’ve just felt totally comfortable and safe, and no aches at all.
Off we went to the Jeff Sanders clinic, where I rode twice a day for two days and was very happy with how things felt. Celebrity seemed fine as well, each time the saddle came off there was a lovely even dust shape on his back and he passed Jeff’s demonstration of horse-checking with a pen with no problems.
For my part I loved the way my legs were just draped down my horse’s sides. I could feel Celeb under me and he could clearly feel my legs giving aids very well (even if he chose to ignore me on some occasions, the little weasel). I rode both with the Christ pad and without it and couldn’t discern any difference for me or the horse. I think I’ll be treating myself to a Ghost pad after pay day, just because it will make everything so neat and tidy; the Christ pad will be too long for a longer girth. I’m not normally keen on knee rolls, but I like the small swells on the Ghost, they give a nice feeling of stability. We had quite a hair raising first ride at the clinic – high winds and some interesting airs above the ground from one horse (well sat Claire!) – but I felt nicely secure through it all. Position – I have friends who have ridden with me for years who made nice comments about that, and asked if my legs had suddenly grown. Pretty good I reckon, I was well pleased.
I had a brilliant clinic, finishing off with a 1-1 lesson with Jeff on Garrocha, which was one of the high points of 2015 to be honest. (I have two, the other was a moment of “soft feel” when riding with Steve Halfpenny in the summer). The photos aren’t best quality because we were indoors with artificial lighting, but you can probably get the idea.
So, yes I love my Ghost saddle. Obviously no saddle will suit all horses but I think that based on my experience you’d be pretty unlucky if you couldn’t find a Ghost to fit you and your horse. If you’re used to a treed saddle be prepared because it will feel very different at first and I’d say you should do a few rides before making any judgements. With hindsight I probably should have purchased a leather saddle rather than nubuck, but that’s just because I’m a lazy mare who will now have to be more attentive about caring for her saddle. That isn’t a big issue and will be good for my soul.
Click here to contact Equine Whispers Equine Whispers
I will just finish by highlighting the charity Spring Ball I am organising in aid of a brilliant little enterprise based in Hereford called Our Patch. Their website is here Our Patch and if you look at the bottom of the Homepage you will find details of the ball and how to buy tickets. Please come and support us if you can, it’s not just for horsey people. Book 10 tickets and we’ll reserve a table for your party. Or maybe you can help with a donation for the auction to be held on the night? We need a range of about 12 items of varied values. I’m holding out hope for a high-value donation such as a holiday let, or maybe a designer item. If you don’t ask you don’t get as they say!
Happy 2016 to everyone, hope it’s a good one for you and your horses!
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