Posted by: shannonc | January 24, 2010

Variation on a theme

Nothing like a warm, fuzzy pony love theme on a cold January day…

Today, I sat in a used Equation dressage saddle.  These are custom saddles made by George Gullikson.  I was attracted to the ad on the NEDA site because it buzzed that it was a good saddle for a small rider/horse – short length front to back, short flap.  The website on the saddlemaker was interesting, so…off I went with a response.

The seller offered to meet me at the barn so we could plunk the saddle on the pony for a rudimentary fit evaluation.  Thus commences the love of pony reprise.

I pulled the pony out of turnout after an hour and a half.  He was still nosing around for miscellaneous bits of hay in the snow.

Pony:  *sticking nose into halter and walking brightly alongside me*  Okay.

Me:  *putting pony on cross ties, pulling off his sheet, and exposing him to the upper-teens cold* 

Pony:  Okay.  Can I have a carrot?

Me:  *obediently forking over carrot as pony stands quietly for scary sheet removal*  Pony, we have a visitor today.

Pony:  *shoots head in the air and assumes flight stance*  A stranger?  In my barn, really?

Me:  *handing carrot to visitor*  No worries, brave pony.

Visitor:  aren’t you cute!  Would you like a carrot, little pony?

Pony:  I like you.

Me:  *hefting saddle onto pony’s back with no pad, poking and prodding*  Hmm…is this tree too wide?

Visitor:  *poking and prodding on her side*  It looks okay…*gives a few hard pushes to cantle*  Balance point might be back a little.

Pony:  *stands stock still*

Me:  Oops, I forgot his bridle’s in my basement.  *Momentarily considering riding in halter*  One sec… *to pony* Stay put and be good.  I’ll be right back.

Pony:  *looks inquiringly at me, then around at visitor*… Any more carrots around here?

Me:  *returning*  This bit is a little cold, pony.

Pony:  *gobbling bit into mouth*  It’s okay.

Me:  *patting and giving sugar*  And the girth isn’t quite small enough…let’s see how this goes.

I unplug the electric fence and take down the tape between the turnout and the field, figuring that’ll be the flattest place to walk around since the snow’s untouched.  I lead the pony out, kick the snow off the top of the mounting block, and get on. 

Pony:  *standing still as saddle moves a little due to no pad and semi-loose girth*

Me:  *pointing pony at gap in fence, where there is not so much as a lump to indicate the location of railroad tie separating ring from field*  Watch out, pony.  You might trip.

Pony:  *stepping over surefootedly*  Nah.  I remember where it is.

We walk around a little but the snow is at the pony’s knees and I feel like I’m sitting on a deer as he tries to put one foot in front of the other, so we go back into the ring and try the beat-up, chunky, heavy snow.

Me:  *secretly thinking I’m nuts*  How about a little trot?

Pony:  Okay. 

He trots both ways.  He doesn’t slip.  He doesn’t explode (although I can tell he is on just this side of having too much fun).  He stretches, he comes round, he moves out through his shoulder and even brings his back up a little.  The saddle is rocking some, but he doesn’t seem to mind.  It’s as though I’d ridden him every day for the last six weeks instead of not at all.

I hop off, bring him in, and we do more poking and prodding, for which he stands quietly, by now looking a bit proud of himself.  Then I give him a little face rub, resheet, and stick him back out in the field, where he munches a carrot and looks over the fence at me as I leave as if to say, “that was kinda fun…want to try another one?”

What. A. Good. Pony.



  1. Aww, what a good pony!

    I HATE saddle-shopping. I finally have a jumping saddle and dressage saddle that fit my horse and me and are comfortable, and I hope they fit for a long long time!

  2. Isn’t it funny how we all seem to hate saddle shopping as much as we LOVE horse shopping?

    I will be glad when this is over!

  3. Watch out for George Gullickson.
    I have had major problems with him. His saddles do not hold any sort of resale value, and his customer service is terrible!
    I can give you more details if you want.
    I wish someone had warned me!!!!!

  4. Thank you for your comment…yes, I would like to hear more details. I cannot imagine spending several thousand dollars on anything with poor customer service behind it – not even a coffeemaker – much less a saddle my horse’s comfort depends on!

  5. Hi, alot of time has passed, but I had to add my comments. I’ve worked with George for almost 18 months. He is a small business, one man with one assistant. He travels all over the country and spends as much time with each individual person as they need. He comes to my facility because a couple of us have a custom made saddle, but each visit he sees others who have different saddles. He does not pressure anyone to buy his saddles. He is honest, informative and unbelievably patient. The two other women who he met with on this most recent visit, both with dressage saddles by other makers, met with him, where he spent 90 minutes going over their horses, their body build, their saddles and answered all their questions and concerns……they walked away with a wealth of knowledge and can’t wait to see him again. He is only able to visit us every 3-4 months because he is traveling all over the country, as well as to England.

    Recently I did invest in a custom saddle but was never once pressured. The saddle arrived when promised, and it fit exactly how it should upon arrival. Long story short, the saddle fit me and my mare perfectly. He doesn’t just build a saddle to fit your horse, he takes into account your build and the way you ride.

    Before this, he had always happily fitted my previous saddle…. and provided me with the same amount of attention answering questions as if I had purchased a saddle from him.

    Not anyone person can please everyone. There will always be disappointed clients no matter who you use. I will say that honesty goes along way with me, and George, along with his vast knowledge of the equine and human anatomy, is extremely honest…with the good and bad….and has great respect and compassion for horses….. Our horses adore him.

  6. PS. Very cute story……

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