Monday, April 25, 2011

Shannon Mazourek's Blog on "Why I bought an Ansur"

Reprinted with permission from Shannon Mazourek:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why I bought an Ansur

I should have my Crossover in 13 weeks, that would be this saddle that I posted a few weeks ago. It's... um... *quite the investment* but I knew after I tested it out that it would be worth it.

Mine will look like this but in brown

I'm fortunate that there's a distributor less than an hour away from me with a large collection of Ansur saddles, not to mention the assortment of Ansur saddles owned by all the people who board with her.

When I arrived there were two boarders riding in the ring, one riding dressage on a spirited freisan and one riding hunt seat on a cremello quarter-horse type. Both were riding in Ansurs. The woman on the friesan came by and spoke to me for a few minutes, telling me all about her saddle quest. She went through 4 different custom made saddles, one of them a Schleese, before she tried the Ansur. Now she rides in the Ansur exclusively and has a bunch of really expensive custom-made treed saddles gathering dust.

I then got the chance to inspect one of the saddles. I was quite impressed, for one thing the leather was thick yet supple, it had a very substantial feel.While I was poking and prodding away at it, the distributor came over and said, "watch this." She then grabbed the saddle and bent the pommel towards the cantle. I have to admit I was a little shocked, I knew it was treeless but for some reason I wasn't expecting that. It makes sense that the saddle should bend like that though, doesn't it? Everyone aims to get a horse to move with the back up, shouldn't the saddle allow that movement?

We then went down the barn and she told me about the histories of her horses and what a difference the saddles made for them, from burnt out western pleasure horses to hunters with old injuries to ponies that had been given away because they were so awful to ride. Rachel Fleszar's horses are in her barn, remember that video? She's third in the nation now for junior pony jumpers- and she rides in an Ansur.

She got out an older school horse for me to try it out on, an appaloosa with no spots that beginners regularly ride. He looked like a pleasant, everyday sort of horse that was a little sleepy. She popped her saddle on his back and we went into the ring. I slid onboard and noticed immediately how much legs naturally fell underneath me, I didn't have any feeling of fighting for my balance like I sometimes have in my ancient Crosby. Then we walked off, the horse immediately went into a swinging forward rhythm with no hint of sluggishness. Then I asked him to trot, I was initially posting, so the distributor suggested I try sitting. All was well until we came to the long side and that horse opened up! I used to think I could sit to the trot, now I know I can't. That horse was TROTTING and I was bouncing around hopelessly on his back like a rag doll. THAT is what my dressage trainer is talking about when she says forward- I get it now! (I was also wondering how in the heck beginners stay on that trot.) You know what? While I being astounded by the way that horse moved, I completely forgot about the saddle. Which is a good thing, if it was uncomfortable there wouldn't have been any way I could have forgotten it.

An aside- I realized at this time just how many horses I've ridden that don't go forward. I've never ridden a trot like that in a ring before. The biggest trot I've ever ridden was years ago on Radal during a competitive trail ride when he really wanted to move; I couldn't even post to that, I just stood in the stirrups. Coriander will move out if we're on the trail and he's got competition. But I've never ridden a lesson horse that moved like that appy with the Ansur.

After my test ride I asked to see her lesson saddles, which are all Ansurs, I wanted to see how these saddles hold up to hard use. Every single one of them looked just as good as her personal saddle. There was no wearing on the leather, no cracking, no warping. They looked great. I even asked her to show me her oldest Ansur, which just happened to be the 201st saddle they ever made, and it looked just as good as her newer saddles- and she'd bought it used!

I was sold, and I bought one the next day (Which just happened to be the day before they had to raise prices 4.5%, phew!). This might have been a crazy decision since I haven't tried it on Coriander, but in preparation for my test ride I took him out with the bareback pad and really compared how he went in that versus my Crosby. I noticed that he's much more willing to stride out with the bareback pad. Hmm...

There's also the fact that he has zip-zero topline right now. Any treed saddle that I bought to fit his back now wouldn't fit once he builds some muscle. But check out the underside of the saddle I bought:

The gullet is completely flexible, that saddle would lie flat if you put it on the floor with the flaps out. The flexibility in the gullet means that the saddle should easily accommodate any muscle gains in his back.

Theoretically this saddle should fit every horse I put it on and I should never have to get it restuffed or reshaped to fit a changing back. Plus it should last until I'm too old to ride anymore. If my new saddle lives up to that, then it will be more than worth the purchase price.

(But if he hates it I have 7 days to send the saddle back. I'm really hoping he likes it.)

*BTW- I don't work for Ansur and they aren't giving me anything for free, I was just really impressed.

Posted by smazourek at 12:45 PM