A saddle at last

Here it is – in all its shining newness – a Stubben Roxanne VSS general purpose saddle.


It has a 17.5″ seat, and is 31cm width: the seat is deep which allows for Ben’s short back, there is a lot of wither clearance and good room for shoulder movement. It is on Ben without any saddlecloth as Stubben advise that the first 20 hours riding should be like that so that the sweat from Ben’s back will help the saddle soften and mould to his shape.


When I was thinking about choosing a saddle, I remembered that there is a Stubben factory here, fairly nearby. I contacted them and two ladies came out in a van with a quite delectable array of saddlery inside. We tried on various saddles, typically the saddles that had a reduced price were not the best for Ben, but this one was. I trotted Ben around the track and popped him over a couple of small jumps that my eldest daughter has put up. Ben moved freely, was forward going, the saddle felt very comfortable and secure and, unlike the treeless saddle, I had my lower legs back again.

So this is it, and this is Ben, ready for our ride yesterday morning. Ben thought I took too long putting on my riding hat. He started to go towards the gate, stopped and looked back as if to say “coming?”


I could wish for more interesting rides around here. We have a lane and roads, the most exciting moment was splashing into a small stream. The ride included a catch-up with some neighbours, plenty of cows and the odd car.


It was a nice, uneventful hack, barring the small events that always happen, such as stopping dead for a lady spraying weedkiller, staying as far to the side as possible from a black and white cow in a gateway and calmly walking on as passed closely at speed by a young lad in his car. Tom Widdicombe (who’s book I have mentioned recently) has a really nice blog post about what he calls horsemanship for “ordinary folk” – aiming for small things, such as a nice hack, relaxed, balanced work and not getting carried away by some of the amazing videos one sees out there. Well in that spirit, this was an ordinary ride, not remarkable, but with a forward going Ben who was mostly relaxed and responsive and had his lovely soft, open face at the end.


Filed under riding, tack

9 responses to “A saddle at last

  1. I love the notion that a nice hack with balanced, relaxed work, is a goal to be aspired to and celebrated. You’re so right – we can aim for something in the clouds that isn’t even meaningful to us on a day-to-day basis – or we can aim to do the kinds of rides we CAN do every single day – and my suspicion is we will enjoy those more than the fantasy ride when all is said and done.

    So glad you got a new saddle that fits and rides well. I had a Stubben that I eventually sold because it was just too narrow for the horses I have now. It was a beautiful piece of saddlery and rode very well.

    • Billie, it is a very nice saddle. It also allows my leg to hang down nicely underneath me, rather than putting me in an ‘armchair’ position, as general purpose saddles can do.

      I see some of the videos out there and can feel discouraged, horsemanship seems to be an almost magical, elusive thing way beyond my reach. Some of them (such as Hempfling’s) I would like to aspire too, but it is nice to focus on what is within my reach, as you say, every single day.

  2. June McIntosh

    Well done! And aren’t I jealous that you have a Stubben factory nearby with two fairy godmothers who will come right to your house!

  3. June McIntosh

    I ordered the Widdicombe book

    • June, they were just like fairy godmothers, particularly once I sat in that saddle, which felt right instantly. (I just had to ignore the price!)

      I will be interested to hear what you think of the book.

  4. I am glad that you have a suitable saddle now. What good fortune that the factory is nearby and the people there helpful.

    You’re right that a nice safe sensible hack is a good objective. Dealing with the small things that happen along the way makes for pleasurable riding that isn’t fraught with worry or likely to end up in a mishap.

  5. They were great, and I was kicking myself for not having thought of them before.

    With my last horse, I always felt that our relationship was built on our hacks. That is where we learned to trust each other, when there was just the two of us, away from home, having to deal with all the small things that would crop up.

  6. June McIntosh

    I love the photo of Ben wondering what’s holding you up