This has been an interesting process but it looks like I am going to be the proud owner of a new Eurolight!
It started with sending drawings of Maggie’s back to Dave at Specialized and speaking with Amanda on the phone as well. Without seeing the drawings, Amanda was sure that I would need the mule bars and the wide tree.
At first I was going to go straight through the manufacturer, but then decided to call a Specialized dealer here in Montana who lives about 3 hours from me, Lisa and Jack Emory. I worked with Lisa 3 years ago when I was trying to find a saddle for JB. Both her and Jack have tons of experience with saddle fit and both ride in Specialized as their personal saddle.
I decided it would be best to work with a Lisa again, who had experience using and fitting these saddles. I trust her and she’s knowledgeable and she’s right here (sort of) if I need help.
I called Lisa and explained Maggie’s back and shared with her what Amanda thought. As it turns out’s Specialized has made some changes since I last looked at these saddles 3 years ago. The tree is now laminated wood, as opposed to a molded plastic and they have made their standard tree wider. In addition, they also offer an even wider version, called the Draft tree.
Lisa said she had a tree with the mule bars on hand she could send up to me. It was a tree for the western style saddle. It wasn't their new wider standard width but it might atleast give us a starting point to see if the mule bars were really needed for Maggie. A couple days later, I had the tree.
Here is what we determined when we put it on Maggie’s back:
Bars were bridging at the center of her back, way more than we could likely shim to correct. This indicated that the mule bars were too straight (or flat) for Maggie. Mule bars were probably not going to work for her. This was kind of surprising. Maggie apparently needs more rocker than I thought so regular horse bars on the saddle would probably do the trick. Mule bars really are quite flat but they are also at a steeper vertical angle. Maggie has pretty well sprung ribs and these bars are more for a slab sided horse or mule.
Maggie definitely needed more room and flare in the shoulders. The newer wider tree would likely work but if not, we can order the draft tree, which is wider yet.
The Bar length on the tree was longer than I was comfortable with. If we could get everything else working fit wise, this was the one thing that I could see would beproblematic. The bars on the demo tree were 22” long in a 15” seat. I would prefer about 20" on the bars.
After a few emails and phonecalls between myself, and Lisa and Dave at Specialized, we confirmed that the Eurolight actually has 20 1/2 inch bars. I could live with that. I could also opt to have the tree maker shave more off the tree length if absolutely necessary but it wasn't advised due to the weight bearing area becoming smaller. Dave reassured me that the Eurolight was successfully being used on Icelandic ponies without having issues with bar length. So with that piece fuigured out, the plan was to just go ahead with the order, along with a draft wide for the gullet width.
In a last minute stroke of good luck for me on Friday afternoon Lisa said she was coming up to my area today to look at a horse. She could bring her personal 15" Featherlight Western which has the newer wider (standard) tree. Lisa would be able to see Maggie's back first hand and we coul make a definitive decision on which width I would need based on her saddle.
After playing with a few shims and pads , it looks like Maggie won't need the draft afterall. the standard width will work and leave room for a pad.
So , Lisa will put the order in on Monday and it will be 2-3 weeks build time.
When it arrives, Lisa will work with me get it fit and shimmed correctly. The plan is to haul down to Lisa's for the day and take a ride for a couple of hours to make sure all the shims and pads are placed right.
This was probably one of the fastest and easiest saddle fitting processes I have ever gone through. I am very thankful for a helpful , knowledgable Specialized saddle dealer. It really makes the process much better.