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What I’m about to say is worth THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. It’s the most IMPORTANT THING FROM MY TRIP:

Fitting a saddle for both horse and rider is never easy. Doing it for a 5000 mile long ride with extra weight from saddle bags, IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

THIS IS HOW WE DID IT…

Orthoflex/ Eli Miller Custom Travel Saddle

Orthoflex saddle panel modifications

Memory foam as a saddle pad

 

To keep up with the wear of long distance horse travel, I will modify my saddle again. I invite you to look at our upcoming videos and posts about how we going to make the ULTIMATE COMFORT SADDLE FOR HORSE AND RIDER even better.

These pictures show the unique characteristics of the saddle I used for the last 2/3rds of the trip.

Orthoflex Traditional #313. Made for Julie Powell, late 80s. Modified by Eli Miller

There are 6 things to notice about this set up:

  1. The saddle pad
  2. The flexible panels underneath
  3. The solid tree with lots of tie out points.
  4. The suspended/ hammock seat.
  5. Front and rear adjustable girth latigos.
  6. The comfort girth

Long distance comfort for horse and rider

These 6 components ensure comfort for the horse and the rider.

  • When the horse changes shape.
  • When extra saddle bags are loaded.
  • Over long distances.
  • And up and down hills.

Here is the importance of each component for successful long distance riding:

1. The memory foam saddle pad is truly remarkable. It can’t be any old memory foam. It has to be the super soft, squishy one. It compresses from 1.5″ to 1/8 of an inch. Your horse will love you for using this.
Please refer to my post about this miracle pad.

Super soft memory foam

2. The flexible panels.
You bought a saddle for your horse. Then you take off on your long ride and your horse loses its wither fat. Unless you have an adjustable pad, you’re screwed.
Three advantages of the flex panels is that they adjust to the 1 static and 2 dynamic shape of your horse…please think about what that signifies. 3, they also help disperse the rider weight over a larger area than just underneath the tree.

Flex panel articulation

The flex panels and the memory foam are YOUR HORSE’S best friends.

3. The solid tree with lots of tie out points.
When on a long ride you put more gear on the saddle. You need a tree that is strong and has room for this extra weight and space.

Orthoflex Traditional horn-less Wade tree.

4. The suspended seat. Riding on a suspended seat is just comfortable. You are never touching the saddle tree itself, you are slightly above it like in a hammock. It’s easier to ride for longer. It’s easier to sit the trot.

Ground suspended seat custom made by Eli Miller

The suspended seat is YOUR best friend for extended riding.

5. The on the fly adjustable girth latigos.
Many people throughout the ride mentioned how loose my girth was. Yes, for the most part, and for most of the time it is. Because my saddle fits well. BUT, when need be, I can tighten both my front and rear girth WHILE riding.

Adjust girth tension on the fly

6. The comfort girth
Your girth needs to be friction and abrasion free. Do you know where I got this airsoft Weaver foam girth from? Old School, horse and buggy, no electricity Eli Miller. He sells them cause they work. 2500 miles with this girth = ABSOLUTELY NO CHAFING.

Comfort girth and on the fly tension adjustment

These are the 6 components to the system I use. I used this system on my 13 month international SOLO horse ride. Roxy carried me and our gear on top of this set up.

I used synthetic endurance stirrup leathers and western plastic stirrups with tapaderos for my first trip.
I now use English stirrup leathers and easy care ergo endurance stirrups. They weigh 20% of the first set up.

My upcoming mods involve improving the flex panels, the suspension seat as well as a new rear girth. I will share videos of how to modify the flex panels for easier on the fly care. I will also show how to make a hybrid ground and elevated suspension seat. One that can be tightened along the long ride, like the old style Trooper saddles.

These two mods will improve the comfort for the 2 of us EVEN MORE.

I hope this information is useful to you and gives you some ideas of how to make your ride more enjoyable- FOR BOTH HORSE AND RIDER!