Does anyone own a HM saddle? I am considering buying either the Flexee or a second hand fhoenix. My cob is currently in a normal treed saddle but it doesnt fit him well and he never seems happy in it. I am now considering gong treeless as neither of us are happy with his current saddle.
Does anyone know if the saddles need to be fitted by a professional or is it something I can do myself? Also are they pretty much guaranteed to fit any shape of horse or are they just suitable for certain horses?
I enjoy a wide range of activities from hacking to dressage and jumping and so we want an all round saddle that will I will feel secure in for everything. HM saddles appealed to me as they look very much like a treed saddle.
Any experiences or information on going treeless will be of great help!
You would need to get someone out to fit them really as i would really recommend that you try before you buy. The Fhoenix and the Vogue are a bit different to ride in when compared to a normal treed saddle so you would need to make sure that you got on with it. Also you need to make sure your horse would be happy in it. Although the saddles are very versatile and fit a lot of different horses, I don't think there is a saddle out there that is suitable for every single horse.
The FlexEE is the one most like a normal treed saddle in both looks and feeling when riding. It is the cheapest as well which is a bonus. I found it sat a bit low on my horse though so needed shims to lift it up for wither clearance.
I have tried the Vogue and the FlexEE and i have to say i prefer the FlexEE. It is comfortable to ride in and puts you in a nice position that would be suitable for dressage and jumping and hacking. I felt a bit perched on top of the vogue (if that makes sense) so it really did not feel as stable. I used it with a SmartPanel though so that could have been the reason. I would not have felt comfortable jumping in it though.
Where abouts are you? I am sure there is a HM agent nearby who could come out and do a fitting \ trial.
I have a FlexEE for my little Dales x Fjord. I find it very comfortable and it puts me in a good position, though LisaP thought yesterday in our lesson that it was too big for her, but after seeing me riding in it she thought it was OK for what we want to do. I did have it fitted by one of HM's fitters which was helpful as Bambi has a lot of muscle wastage in her back and needed shims as Annas mentions for hers.
Mine is the dressage version, but if you're wanting to jump you might want to go for the new VSD. That wasn't available when I bought mine or I would have chosen it ::). The dressage version is very straight cut, and I do find it a bit awkward for cantering out hacking in a forward seat. I didn't get on with the knee rolls at anything other than walk - they blocked my legs and made me come up off my seat, and I felt much more secure in the saddle as soon as I ditched the knee rolls.
The other downside is tightening the girth when you have dressage billets - all very well in a school but when you're out on a hack and you have to start doing yoga under your horse's belly just to tighten up the girth it can be, shall we say, not very elegant - especially when your pony decides to choose that moment to put her head down and Eat Grass ::).
Best thing is to go on EE website and talk to Heather - she does have some extra wide FlexEE on offer at the moment - they were her prototypes but still good. She will be very helpful - in fact I've never met anyone so conscientious!
I have a protype and loved it but no longer have the horse so am giving it back Heather to sell (it was used a handful of times) Very comfortable and horse was very happy in it. I have a wide dressage and it was great. I will be getting another when my baby is old enough.
I have a fhoenix, and both Jos and I love it. He goes really well in it, and I feel lovely and secure. My friend just got a flexEE, and it is grand. We have shims in it as her pony is not really flat, and they both like it. I've never seen a horse and rider both breathe a sigh of relief when they start riding before! I got my YO to check fit, and also took advice on the FB page.
Thanks for the helpful responses. I have had a look on EE website which has given me a lot of helpful info. I cant see any fitters in my area though (Leicestershire) and I am a bit wary of buying a FlexEE if it doesnt fit right. Also as I am no expert in saddle fitting I dont know if I would trust myself to fit it (unless it is very easy and provided with fool proof instructions!)
The problem with my current saddle is that it is causing a pressure point at the top of his shoulder which has made him a little sore. Am I right in thinking that Heathers saddles don't cause any pressure points? He is a 14.2 cob with big shoulders and very exaggerated paces so it seems that our GP is restricting his shoulder movement.
If you don't have any fitters near you the best thing would be to contact Heather herself. I know she helps remotely with fitting and can give you advice on fitting it correctly. Bear in mind the FlexEE and the Fhoenix may need specific pads or shims under it depending on the particular horse. Heather would be able to advise on that though or maybe point you in the direction of a fitter that covers your area.
There are no specific points in the saddles like on a conventional saddle and they are designed to flex with the horse and therefore not restrict movement.
I bought a FlexEE without trying it on as there was one available secondhand near to me. I then had Mariaana from Better Saddles to come and do a fitting for me. Unfortunately it didn't suit my large heavy cob - it sat very low on his shoulders. It is now for sale if you wanted to try it - 17" black GP version.
I have 2 Phoenixs, one of which I am putting on E bay in the near future in case anyone is interested. The best thing about them is the extent to which they freed the shoulders. The difference riding from an ordinary saddle was very noticable and immediate in respect of the horse moving his shoulders. I found that fitting a difficult horse with high withers wasn't so easy but one is on my cob and fitting was no problem. I bought a Nu Med shimmy pad which has a couple of shims in it and it was very easy using that. My phoenix are the dressage models so I don't know if the flexee would free the shoulders in the same way as I have never tried one. Presumably they would though. I've ridden out a lot in mine up and down over lots of banks etc and it hasn't restricted the shoulders in anyway.