I went to the tack shop today and finally replaced my jumping saddle. I had owned a Bates Elevation for the better part of two decades. It wore and felt like iron. I really wanted an adjustable tree saddle and something that my mother and I could share. I decided to go with the current incarnation of the Bates Elevation. I did ask the salesperson (who was very nice) about the “easy” change gullet system. When we had the Wintecs/Bates before, we always joked that it wasn’t “seven easy steps” but fourteen since every other step is “take a break to pant and curse like a sailor”. I commented on this to the saleswomen and she assured me that this was the “next generation” of Easy Change Gullets and it was much easier. Evidently, I am gullible (gullet-ible).
I happily charged home with my new acquisition. One dressage saddle was in my horse trailer in the fire and I bought a treeless Ansur for Ries, but have not sat in a jumping saddle since September ’16. Now that my mom has a new horse (more on that later), I finally had something to jump and was feeling pretty motivated. So, we got out our handy-dandy gullet kit and measured Gust (said new horse). He needs a wide gullet. The saddle was set at medium so we tried that for the first ride. Later, I carried my new possession into the house and announced my intent to my husband to change the gullet.
My husband – having clear memories of helping with this over the last two decades – was skeptical to say the least. Testing our marriage is his interpretation of this little venture. I assured him that this was the “new generation” and that I would be able to do this without help (again, gullible). I started off on the deck. Actually, I started in the living room but between the sand already on the stirrups and a Labrador that was obviously attracted to the smell of new leather, I decided that the deck was a better place.
I couldn’t remember if the Philips Head screwdriver was the flat-headed or “star shaped/plus sign” one and made the mistake of asking my dear husband. This led to some long looks and the assumption that he would have to be involved. I again assured him that I would be able to do this. I got the saddle dismantled with out any real excitement. It was the re-assembly that would prove problematic. Evidently going from medium to wide is not so easy.
I got a sheet and started the wrestling match in the living room. I have distinct memories of doing this a few (cough) decades ago. I got one side of the wide gullet in place but could not get the second point lined up. I tried the classic wrestling move that had always worked before but to no avail. I tried enlisting the help of my elfin nine year old but he fell about ten to twenty pounds short of a helpful weight. I sent him to go ask his father to come help me. Our son went charging off to find his father bellowing “Mom needs help” in a slightly panicked tone. I was calling out “stand down”. We do have occasions around here that do require panic and I wasn’t interested in providing Mr. Beer Budget Dressage with an “at home” stress test.
Mr. BBD came in to help with a healthy dose of “I told you so”. Considering this is a fellow that spends his life dealing with tools and all sorts of uncooperative whatever, I was pretty surprised how much effort it took on his part. We finally got the gullet plate switched and in place, but even if it doesn’t fit – Gust is just going to have to suck it up.
Easy Change Gullet – my derriere.