Over the course of the last school year I'd been getting more and more sure that Heyleigh had a saddle fit problem. After doing some research, I realized that she had a forward girth groove. I got a total saddle fit girth, which helped keep her saddle from slipping forward, but I was still having a lot of the same issues. The biggest problem I was having was that all the signs of poor saddle fit listed in magazines and saddle fitting websites are pretty much the same signs of a really crabby mare.
Eventually I finally broke down and had someone from County Saddlery come and do a fitting. (Oddly enough, the rep was someone who also works at the place I'm interning at this summer!) I tried several saddles, and absolutely loved the Innovation. Heyleigh did seem to go a bit better in it, but it was hard to tell for sure. Something that the rep said really rang true with me though. She said that she could guarantee a perfect fit, so I could rule that out saddle fit as the cause of any problems I was having with Heyleigh. Obviously it can't be completely true since no one can ask a horse how their saddle is feeling, but it made enough sense to me that I decided to go ahead and buy a deeply discounted demo of the saddle that I tried. At $3000, it still cost about three times as much as I was planning on spending, but I wanted to start making progress with Heyleigh, and this seemed like a good place to start.
So far, I've only ridden in it twice on my own, but WOW. All of a sudden I'm actually catching Heyleigh relaxing at the trot, on a loose rein, and - get this - going. too. slowly. She also popped over several new jumps in the newly set up outdoor arena almost without question. Since refusing new jumps has always been one of her biggest problems, I'm absolutely thrilled. Things weren't magically fixed over night, she's still a bit antsy and likes to rush things, but for the first time in a very long while, I actually feel like I'm able to work with her. Now I just feel terrible for how uncomfortable she must have been in her old saddle. I'm very excited to see where the next few weeks and month will take us now that she's comfortable enough to do her job again.