First ride FAQ

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As much as possible, from pictures and discussion about you and your horse(s), I will send your demo or purchased saddle ready for your first ride. All you need to do is, set up your stirrups, add a breast collar if you have one and go for a ride. Sounds simple, but here are a few answers to frequently asked questions to help a bit more.

  1. How do I run the stirrup straps?
        This question arises more with the long flap models. There's a slit for the stirrup straps (unless ordered without) but you don't have to use it. I personally run my stirrup completely under the flap to avoid any chance of rubbing during a long endurance ride. I also suggest running the strap buckles at the bottom and using the straps keepers to cover the buckle and control the extra length. Note: if you decide to purchase the saddle, you can cut the strap length with scissors.

     

    Tuck the stirrup strap through the ring 
    from underneath, with the buckle tonge
    pointing away from you. Pull the end 
    down toward the buckle and run through
    your stirrup from front to back.

    Buckle, then tuck the end back through
    the buckle and tidy up the end.

    Wrap the keeper around the buckle with 
    Ghost toward you and the wider part 
    down.

    To use the slit, after running through the
    ring, pull both ends through the slit and
    repeat the above.

         
           
  2. How do I position the panels?
    I generally align the panels with the stitch lines on the bottom of the base, about 2 inches or 5cm apart, flaring away at the front. The purpose of the panels is to ensure the base doesn't contact the spine. We've  had different thicknesses of panel foam over time and the thicker material allows the panels to be a little wider. For lightweight riders and horses without prominent spines, there are fewer concerns, but if you're heavier or your horse has a prominent spine, if you've either widened the panels overall or in the front or back only, there's a quick and easy test to make sure you haven't gone too far.
    Take some baling twine and tie several double knots along the length, place the twine between the panels above the pad, ride around for a bit to make sure the foams have settled and make sure the knots can be pulled easily through. If so, you MAY be able to ride with a standard pad w/o inserts. If not, you definitely need a pad that provides additional spine clearance and wither relief. I emphasize MAY because pads with inserts also provide additional cushion, breathability, and support. 
    I find it easiest to place the saddle upsidedown over a pad on top of a saddle stand with the cantle nearest me. Then line up the panels as desired starting from the back and pressing down toward the front. I check the front to back when sitting in the saddle.
    You can lower the front of the saddle by widening the panels at the front and vice versa. When narrowing, make sure you're not too close to the spinal processes by placing the saddle on the horse w/o a pad and feeling along the wither and back through the gullet.
  3. How do I know when to shim?
    The saddle base is designed with a bit of curvature - this is what allows Ghost to have more twist than many treeless saddles and also to have a good chance at working for high/narrow withered horses. But there are some horses with straighter backs, less flare at the shoulder, or might be higher in the loins than where the front of the saddle wants to sit (which is dependent upon horse shape and motion and it's usually best to work with this stability rather than against it).
    If you sent me pictures of your horse I might have already inserted shims in the front of the panels or sent them along just in case. Your best, first step is to go for a ride and see what the horse and your balance tell you. There will be some settling in for the first half hour. Pay attention to the stability of the saddle (remember to check girth tightness after you mount) and particularly your front/back balance. If you feel tipped forward or are rocking forward with horse motion, then you likely need shims. If the tipped feeling is minor, an easier solution might be a pommel bolster.
    If you'd like to have a good idea of whether you need shims before riding, then set the saddle on the horse, a bit forward, then wiggle back until it stops naturally. With the horse standing square, put a bit of pressure in the seat with one hand and then with the other, see if a little pressure on the pommel makes it obviously rock forward. Or look for a gap between the front of the panel and the horse. A small gap, like 1/4" or less I don't worry about. But if there's a 1/2" gap or more, definitely use the front shims. If the gap is much larger, I also carry shims for the pad. You can also get creative with materials in your barn if it's an emergency and you need to ride!
    The method I use when fitting horses in person is to take a flexicurve (a lead-filled measuring strip found in office stores) and mold it to the shape of your horse about 3" down and parallel to the spine. Trace that shape onto 2 pieces of paper taped together. Then get the shape of the panels along the centerline and hold it next to the tracing. If the lines match, great! If there's a gap, then you may need shims as above.
    Endurance riders tending to trot for extended periods are more likely to notice the need for shims. Casual riders, particularly on gaited horses are less likely to need them as they're naturally distributing weight more evenly across the saddle.

      Panel shim               Pad shim
        
    Panel & 2 shim pairs     Open panel velcro     Insert shims             Close velcro              Panel thicker in front

    The panel shims are two 1/4" thick
    shims, one slightly shorter to make
    a bevel. Open the panel velcro, 
    push the shims to the front of the 
    panel - you can trim them if needed
    to do it neatly. Close the velcro and
    re-attach to the base of the saddle. 

  4. How do I change seats?
    Here's a YouTube video on removing/replacing the seat, either for fun or to change seat styles. I do have another hint to not becoming frustrated with velco wanting to grip before you're ready - place a large plastic bag between the seat and base while you're aligning the front of the seat, then slip out as you carefully press the seat into the base. New! The later seats have additional velcro tabs just behind the flap that go under the base so you might need to remove or pull up the back of the panels to release these before pulling the seat off.

    I set the saddle on a saddle stand, behind the saddle when aligning the seat to the base. After I've aligned the seat, I turn the saddle over to tighten the mid-seat velcro tabs and re-position the panels.
  5. What if I'm between seat sizes?
    The 17" (Piccolo) seat runs pretty true to size (the Roma might feel a tad small due to the thigh block angle), but the 18" (Standard) runs a bit large. I'm using 17"/18" english seat labels for ease of comparison, but the saddles are made based upon cm so not exact. If the 18" makes best sense for you, but might be large, we have a couple options - a Ghost seat diminisher or seat spacers that I make from wool felt. Mine come in 1/4" and 1/2" thicknesses and can be used alone or together for custom fitting in 1/4" increments. 
    They are placed under the seat at the cantle, behind the rider, so only have the effect of reducing seat length, not depth. Actually, they can have a slight effect in making the seat feel deeper if you like to feel the cantle behind you.
    Ghost seat diminisher  
    My felt spacers

     

     

  6. How do I mount with a treeless saddle?
    The same rules apply to mounting treed vs treeless, but many people haven't been taught how best to mount any saddle. Here's a quick video from Ghost on mounting - https://www.facebook.com/ghostsaddle/videos/1981624458763858/. The same rules (hold cantle and mane, not pommel, stand close to horse, mount quickly and use a mounting aid when possible) really apply when mounting a treed saddle but most people don't realize this unless their horse complains about the pain of pulling a hard saddle into the wither area. Lateral stability for mounting with a treeless saddle varies from horse to horse and it's always best to start carefully to find out how stable the saddle is for you and your horse. You may find you need to tighten the girth one notch tighter than normal if your horse is agreeable and then the saddle settles with a not-to-tight feeling for the horse. Some people need to use a mounting aid and then tighten the girth once mounted. Just be aware of your horse and what works for him.

  7. The saddle seems perched, will it settle when I ride?
    Yes, the saddle doesn't weigh enough to settle without a rider in place. It will settle as soon as you sit and additionally over the first few rides as the leather breaks in, the foams conform to your weight and the horse's shape and motion. Keeping this in mind, it is always wise to check your girth before and after mounting. You are likely to need to tighten one notch tighter compared to a treed saddle. Always mount from a block or terrain until you have tested the stability of the saddle on any horse your ride.
    Before 1st ride After 1st ride
Last Updated: 3/27/2018