Hot or Not: Bua Saddles

Have you guys heard about Bua Saddles?  Yeah, me neither.  An article about them popped up on my Facebook feed on Sunday night and I popped on over to the page to check out these brightly colored, flashy, odd looking things.

bua2From behind you can clearly see the cantilevered tree, with separated seat and tree pieces. Screenshot from the Bua saddles/vimeo.

All that seems to have been released at this point is a video (embedded below) and a Facebook page.¬† There are also print articles somewhere I don’t have access to.¬† I’ll sum up some of the points of the video for you if you don’t feel like getting through it (but adorable accents make it a worthwhile five minutes).

Bua Saddles from Standpoint Media on Vimeo.

It sounds like the creator of Bua Saddles, Martin Ryan, set out to design a saddle that met modern standards of comfort and performance for both horses and riders.¬† In doing so, he completely changed the shape of the tree, and created something… else.

Okay so it’s still a saddle tree.¬† But it’s a cantilevered saddle tree.¬† The portion of the saddle that affixes to the rider’s seat is not connected directly to the horse’s back below it; instead, the force translates through the attachment point of the tree (which is at the pommel of the saddle).

Technical diagram of a cantilever. We all know what these are — close to every saddle rack I’ve ever used is a cantilever system.

The tree itself is made of a “thermoplastic composite” which basically means “really really ridiculously high tech plastic” to me.¬† I know really really ridiculously high tech plastics are used in all kinds of sport and have some fantastic shock absorption, impact resistance, and durability features.¬† Just think about the way ski technology has changed in the last 50 years — if the skiiers can do it, it’s probably time for equestrians to catch up.

Additionally, every soft part of the saddle is interchangeable, allowing for a completely custom fit.¬† Hypothetically you could also pop off your jumping flaps and pop on your dressage flaps so that you don’t need two saddles to do two different disciplines.

They do the Ikea-style (okay, probably not invented by Ikea, but certainly prominent in their stores) repetitive motion testing that always makes me giggle.  Over 2 million reps and counting!

Photo from the Bua Saddles Facebook page

So, what are my thoughts on these newfangled butt cushions?

I will admit that at first I was like “we don’t need no new stinkin’ technology!!!!”, but then I squashed my inner 85-year-old neophobe and just listened to the video a bit more.¬† After opening my mind, color me extremely intrigued.

I have some concerns, because I know just enough about physics and engineering to be dangerous.¬† Doesn’t the cantilevered design mean that the way force is translated through the saddle is uneven?¬† Certainly the majority of the force would come down on the join of the two parts of the tree, and that seems to¬† be right where most people don’t want force slamming down on their horse’s backs.¬† On the contrary, the horse in the video jumps around some pretty big fences and didn’t seem to have any issues.

Also, the bouncing of the seat kinda weirds me out.¬† I’m not used to riding with a seat that has in built shock absorbers like that, and that is bound to change the way that we ride.¬† This is not necessarily a bad thing.¬† As much as the movement in the seat makes a ride smoother, would it also not propel one up more in the case that forces were translated from horse to human in that direction?¬† I mean, the laws of physics are still a thing….

bua1

Looking at just the saddles, they definitely don’t have the visual appeal of a well-made traditional saddle (except the fact that they appear to be amazingly colorful, which I obviously love).¬† This is also a neophobia thing (lots of studies on neophobia in mammals, it’s a thing, we just have to live with it and try to work through it).¬† But it’s also a totally superficial/cosmetic/insomewaysextremelyridiculous thing.¬† With a rider up, the saddles don’t look that different from other English saddles I’ve seen, and I’m sure with time and demand the creators could easily adapt their unique design to something that appears more traditional.

Does this sound like it could be a fabulous innovation for horse’s backs?¬† Yep.¬† Is it worth looking in to more?¬† Definitely.¬† I’m very much looking forward to hearing and seeing more about Bua saddles as more people get the opportunity to try them out.

What do you think?  Hot or not?  Share with me your thoughts on these fascinating new saddles.

Secret Santa gift!!! & a confession

I just started blogging this year (technically in June or something, even though I didn’t start writing regularly until mid-November) and so I was super, super excited to see that Tracy at Fly On Over was hosting a gift exchange. ¬†I am really enjoying my foray into horsey blogging, and something to get me more connected to the community + presents was right up my alley.

So, I signed up, and then cleverly put my barn address down as my shipping address (because duh, why shouldn’t horse stuff go straight to my barn?) and then left for a two week vacation.

IMG_8937On the beach in Oregon with my best girl.

Much clever.

Imagine my surprise when I got back and found an envelope from Jenn at Stories from the Saddle waiting for me at the barn!!  Inside that envelope was a much coveted gift certificate, that has inspired me to make a bit of a confession.

gift

 

I’ve been on Twitter so I’ve obviously seen MangoBay belts around in the rootds. ¬†I¬†have never really been a belt wearer, in part because I lose them a lot and I just haven’t felt the need. ¬†Constantly pulling up my pants and breeches has always seemed perfectly classy to me, and in a pinch, a piece of rope did the trick. ¬†However, thanks to some stretching pants, possibly a lingering parasite infection from my time in Africa, and my new-found love of actually dressing¬†well while riding (and teaching), I found myself desirous of a belt. ¬†Maybe a MangoBay belt.

But I’m also really, really cheap. ¬†And a belt was at the bottom of my list — especially when there are polo wraps and saddle pads and bits that actually¬†need buying. ¬†So in order to guard myself from disappointment — here comes the confession — I very maturely chose to jealousy hate them instead.

Yes, that’s right. I’m a jealousy hater. ¬†I want something, I can’t have it, so I rationalize in my head all the reasons that thing isn’t that great, I don’t actually want it, and I have no reason to be jealous of those people who¬†do have it!

But it wasn’t true! I did want a MangoBay belt! I lusted after their multicoloured rainbow displays at trade shows and coveted the splash of colour that broke up an otherwise-traditional riding outfit. ¬†And don’t even get me started on a belt that would lay¬†flat! ¬†Buckles kill me.

So now I’m getting a MangoBay belt!! THANKS JENN!!

Women's Belt - Art Nouveau Iris design on 1.25" Burgundy webbing with Flat Ring closure - product images  of

Specifically, I’m getting this burgundy Art Noveau. ¬†Shopping there was hard. ¬†It really was. ¬†I wanted something colourful enough to break up an outfit (see above), but also traditional enough that I could wear it with my street clothes and not worry about a major clash. ¬†And — ¬†believe it or not — I am getting a little sick of all the pink that’s in my life.

So — secret santa gift SUCCESS and a new blog friend, I hope. ¬†Thanks again, Jenn. ¬†It is greatly appreciated — by me and my bosses, probably, who will no longer have to watch me hike my jeans up fourteen times a day!