Saddle Hunt Saga #1: 2004 Luc Childéric

Saddle Hunt Saga #1: 2004 Luc Childéric

AND SO IT BEGINS. Buckle yourself in, folks, the saddle hunt is on.

Our first contender is a 2004 Luc Childéric from Redwood Tack for $1,174.99! Here’s the stats:

A little bit about Luc Childéric…

The brand was established in 1991, after Childeric spent 10 years in Normandy working for a French saddle maker and then decided to strike out on his own. His design philosophy is centered around the idea of harmony—according to Luc “each saddle has to have everything in harmony – seat, shape, stirrup bar placement, blocks panels etc, to have the best result”. He focuses on creating a sense of “balance, contact and freedom of horse”. They’re high quality saddles, but they’re not as popular as other French brands (CWD, Devoucoux, etc.) which makes for a lower price point.

My impression of the saddle right out of the box…

It smelled so good. Leah (the owner of Redwood Tack) must have cleaned it right before she took it to the post office. I could tell that the leather was well cared for, but the flaps were thicker and not as grippy as the Devoucoux. It seemed a little stiff, but it was very handsome! It definitely had a more narrow tree, too.

Checking the fit for Raglan…

StevieO came with me to the barn to try the Childéric on Raglan. The first thing we did was slap the saddle up on his back without any other extras to distract us from the fit.

From the side, I liked that his giant shoulders looked like they had space and that he made the saddle look small (which usually means it will fit me). It also looked like it was pretty level!

From the front, I liked how it sat more flush against his shoulder than the Devoucoux’s. The wither clearance seemed fine, but I didn’t like the space that it left right behind his withers.

How I want it to sit versus how it actually sits

We cinched Rags up and the saddle clamped down on that empty space behind his withers like nobody’s business. There was a lot of pressure right under the point of the tree and we lost a lot of the wither clearance. I could tell that this was going to pinch.

At this point I was pretty sure that the saddle was going to end up being a no, but I wanted to sit in it anyways to see how I liked the fit of the saddle for my leg.

Checking the fit for me…

The moment I swung my leg over I noticed A LOT OF THINGS.

First off, the seat was much more shallow than the seat of the Devoucoux. My entire body felt more free! From a jumping standpoint the fact that I could get out of the saddle quicker was super appealing.

Second of all, the twist of the saddle was a little bit too wide. I could feel the tree where I shouldn’t be able to feel the tree, if you know what I mean.

Third, my leg didn’t feel like it was locked in front of the girth like it is with the Devoucoux!!! It was definitely more floppy (oml my lower leg is so out of shape) and I’m 100% certain that I needed to put my irons up another hole, but I could actually move my leg around.

We just did a few circles at the trot because I didn’t want to ride for very long in a saddle I knew was probably uncomfortable for Raglan, but it was definitely enough time for me to get a feeling for the Childéric and which of its features I really loved.

The FINAL VERDICT…

So not the saddle for us, considering that it didn’t fit Raglan. But here’s what I learned:

I like the shallower seat. I need a narrower twist/waist. The 13.5″ flap doesn’t feel too long. The 17″ seat was good. The thicker leather didn’t make a huge difference, though I did want it to be more grippy.

The tree/panels of the Childéric are shaped like an A. I think Raglan needs something with a little more of a curve to fill in that gap behind his withers. The saddle squished down on his withers, which usually means it’s too wide… but the Devoucoux is a wider saddle and it has more clearance? GAH, CONFUSING. Leah from Redwood Tack thinks I should try a 4.5″ or a 4.75″ dot to dot!

The Childéric will get shipped back to Redwood on Monday, and then once the funds are back on my card I might take my new found knowledge back down to Olson’s…

Show Recap: May 13th LWSC Hunter Schooling Show

Show Recap: May 13th LWSC Hunter Schooling Show

Win #1 of the show day: Raglan got into the horse trailer with just one small flick of a lunge whip. The more places we go, the better he gets about loading into the trailer (as long as the trailer is huge, that is).

The moment we unloaded at Bridle Trails I looped a chain around his noseband for a little extra stopping power and we went for a walk. Bridle Trails is a big park (482 acres!), with three arenas and a 28-mile trail system. We walked down the short bridle path that connects the parking lot to the arena area, then wandered around watching horses canter past in the warmup and cheering on the 2’6″ division from a grassy knoll right outside of the main arena. He was pushy, but not spooky.

We came back to the trailer and he munched from his hay bag while I changed into my tall boots. I ate a tiny breakfast and then we went over to the round pen for a lunge, where he was suspiciously chill.

In the mean time, the rest of the R2R team had found the list of projected start times and started shuffling their classes around so that we wouldn’t be stuck at Bridle Trails until 6:30PM. TrainerM and I walked down to the show office and she kept an eye on Raglan while I switched our flat class up to an earlier division. Raglan was a good boy and stood very patiently while I filled out my add/drop form.

The classes chugged along and I tacked Raglan up (with his breastplate/running, because I didn’t want to get my face smashed LOL). We walked back to the arena area and I got on and walked him down the lane and into the warmup without any troubles. We had one small moment where a horse cantered towards and he got snotty and threatened to kick when they passed, but otherwise he was goodhigh energy, but good!

All of the lateral stuff we’ve been working on was so helpful. Any time he felt like he was getting a little too excited I would slide my leg back and he’d refocus on our haunches in.

I wasn’t certain that we were going to canter, but the moment felt right! The first time he tried to launch us into orbit, but then I quieted my aids down to the softest of whispers and we had a good time cantering around the warmup. He felt SO POWERFUL, it was a huge thrill!

We warmed up way too early, so I hopped off, loosened his girth, and switched back to his halter so that he could graze. At some point I really had to pee, so I tied him near the restroom and left him to his own devices for a couple of minutes. He tried to dig a hole to China (and then nickered so cute when I came out and hollered at him to quit it), but it’s nice that I can trust him to tie without supervision.

Of course, then classes started flying by and suddenly I was rushing to the trailer to put his bridle back on. We hurried back to warmup, but I only got to trot a couple of laps before we were going into the main arena for our class. There was a delay while the judge sorted out the papers for the last class, though, so I got the chance to trot Raglan around the jumps that were set up in the arenahe didn’t even glance at all of the flowers and with a little bit of practice they looked totally jumpable.

The class got underway. He was so amped that I didn’t think we’d canter, but when the announcer called for it I threw caution to the wind. He was perfecta complete giraffe, but a PERFECT giraffe.

We switched directions and… that’s the moment that my allergies kicked in. I kid you not, I did the rest of the class with tears streaming down my face from all of the pollen in the air. I could barely see!

We ended up with a 4th place ribbon (AKA last place LOL), which was just fine in my books. Despite all of the people on Instagram and in person that say that Raglan’s got a hunter-esque trot/canter, I’ve never had any aspirations of winning a HUS class with him. The jumpers are in our future!

I walked him out in the warmup, then we went back to the trailer and I untacked him and dumped a bucket of water over his backIT WAS SO HOT OUT AND MY ALLERGIES WERE KILLING ME.

Sunday was a day filled with success! We lunged alone. We warmed up alone. We went into our class alone. He ate his hay. He drank lots of water. He stood tied up while I ran to the restroom. He got in and out of the trailer without complaint. He was such a star, I was so proud of him! We were completely independentand it felt like we could have easily jumped a couple of courses.

This show was so encouraging, I’m already looking at the calendar to pick our next outing!

Saddle Hunter Extraordinaire

Saddle Hunter Extraordinaire

Well, I’m back on the saddle hunt. That sentence fills me with a weird mixture of frustration, dread, and excitement—and I feel better about the whole thing if I just don’t look at my bank account. 😅

It’s okay, it’s all worth it in the end ❤

I’ve owned six saddles in my lifemy very first crappy western hand me down, the synthetic saddle I bought with my birthday money when I was a kid, the Wintec (my first English saddle!), the County dressage saddle I got on eBay, the western show saddle, and finally my pride and joy: the Devoucoux.

The good news is that I’ve already got a buyer for the Devoucoux. TrainerM’s been toying with the idea of finding a new saddle for a while now, so it must be fate that mine fell right into her lap! Not going to lie, I was SO MAD that the Devoucoux fit her perfectly, but I’m happy to see it go to someone that I know will love it. She needs to sell her Crosby, then she’ll officially own my hunk of fine French leather.

If only my legs were a little bit longer… sigh.

In the mean time, I’ve been browsing through pages and pages of ads on Facebook’s high end English tack groups. CWD, Butet, Beval, Voltaire, Antares, Bruno Delgrange… so many options! 😍

The most important part of searching for a saddle (imo) is setting a budget. Unfortunately, I’m #terrible at setting budgets. One moment I’m telling myself that I shouldn’t spend more than ~$1800 and then the next day I’m letting the saddle specialist at Olson’s convince me that I could probably scrounge up $3500 for a custom Prestige saddle (BECAUSE PINK TRIM, OKAY?).

What the Devoucoux would look like if I was allowed to design saddles

I knew close to nothing about saddles when I bought the Devoucoux. I could tell that it was miles above any saddle I’d owned before, but that was itand that’s how I ended up with a 5″ dot to dot measurement (not a good fit for my narrow OTTB) and a size 3 flap (not a good fit for my short legs). As sticky and beautiful as the Devoucoux is, pulling my leg in front of my girth is a cardinal sin. 😭

MY LEG DOES NOT BELONG ALL THE WAY UP THERE

Since then, I’ve read articles (Schleese’s article about optimal saddle design for short riders is 👌), browsed forums (CHRON OF THE HORSE 💕), and messaged with a few saddle fitters. All of those sources have helped me piece together that I need a 17/17.5″ seat, a narrow twist with a wide waist and wide seat, a super short flap (13.5″ MAX with NO FORWARD FLAPS), and a medium tree (4″ to 4.5″ dot to dot). Ideally I want to spend under $2000, which should be completely doable since I don’t mind saddles that are 10+ years old (the Devoucoux is a 2007 and I’m in love with how broken in it is).

The bad news is that finding a used saddle with my combo of requirements can be… challenging. The good news is that since I’m back at the SEC I can borrow from the lesson program while I’m on the search!

Not that the lesson program saddles fit us either, ha ha 😅

Hopefully I’ll find something that will fit within the next month or so. 😊

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