Shark Fin Withers? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-01-2013, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2012
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Shark Fin Withers?

This is less of a critique and more of a conformation question. Drifter has high withers. Always. Part of the TB thing I guess. They look less pronounced and "oh my gosh" like now that he is in proper work and gaining weight, but I have still been unable to get rid of the slight dips on either side. They are less pronounces then they were when I first got him, but the area is still pretty concave if you are feeling with your hands. I was told by an acquaintance at the barn that this was normal for a horse that has "shark fin withers" like Drifter. Does he have shark fin withers? And if so, is that indeed normal? His saddle is custom made and I have it re checked every so often (especially if we have had a major weight loss or other issue). He is developing muscle (albeit slowly) in all other areas. I just wanted to make sure the concave spots on the side of his withers dont necessarily mean "hey owner, you're doing it wrong". If they do..then good. Now I'll know

Thanks all!
Excuse the photos. I mainly was just trying to get shots that showed his withers. I'm aware he is standing on a slope in the last pic! Not looking for any other conformation things so figured that would be okay.



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post #2 of 7 Old 04-01-2013, 03:31 PM
Join Date: May 2011
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"Shark fin withers" are definitely not a rare thing in TBs. And yes, he does indeed have "shark fin" withers.
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post #3 of 7 Old 04-01-2013, 07:46 PM
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Fist may I say he is adorable :) Second if his withers are caved in on the sides it might mean he needs to build muscle there when my horse lost weight and muscle on his top line i used shims to put under the top of my saddle so the pressure wasn't on that spot so he could build muscle there if that makes sense. you can also look it up on google lots of people talk about it on BHW.

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post #4 of 7 Old 04-01-2013, 08:02 PM
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Make sure it isn't muscle atrophy from poor fitting saddle/pads. Sky had that on one shoulder and the then-current saddle was deemed unappropriate for him. We had him evaluated and then fit a saddle to him.\

He also has shark fin withers.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-01-2013, 09:44 PM
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What tree width is your saddle? My TB is also part of the shark fin withers club. And he had muscle atrophy, he was muscling up everywhere else but the exact same spot your horse isn't. I was upgrading saddles when I found a master saddler in the area, she came out and immediately knew the problem! He was in a medium tree to get the saddle off his withers but in all reality it was too narrow for him. He is now in a wide and a completely different horse, no more dips because he has muscled beautifully there. At first he did have to have a half pad and shims but as he muscled up those slowly came off then the half pad went and now he fits into a W tree no problem! What happens is the tree has to be too narrow to get the saddle off the withers but it is also too narrow to allow proper muscle development, so literally the tree points dig in right there and stop the muscle from developing. Using a half pad with a wider tree allows that muscle to finally develop then you will no longer need the half pad. Hope I made sense :/

Sully ~Sullivan's Fly Supply~ [17.1 TB] RIP 2/24/14
Rio ~Camperio~ [18.0 Oldenburg]
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post #6 of 7 Old 04-01-2013, 11:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the advice!

He is in a wide tree saddle. I've been working closely with a saddle fitter in my area to make sure his saddle stays appropriately fitted because when he came to me a year ago he had MAJOR atrophy from ill fitting saddles due to previous owners. He was also out at his withers and suffered from a lot of back pain. The muscle is building up, he looks significantly better around his withers than he did, it's just moving slower.

But as long as he is continuing to build the muscle up in that area should that rule out atrophy? I will definitely ask her to reevaluate the saddle fit! From the best of my knowledge though, it seems to fit him great. He is no longer upset about getting tacked up or riding (which he was when I first got him. He associated the saddle with back pain/pinching I am assuming).

And just for a few more pictures since I love him! (and his shark fin withers) Thanks bhorselover :) I think he is pretty adorable myself. He is great. I have a relationship with him unlike any other horse I've worked with in the past. He loves my niece too haha




Last edited by DriftingShadow; 04-01-2013 at 11:13 PM. Reason: to add another picture just because I can! :)
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-01-2013, 11:17 PM
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Location: Missouri
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Make sure those muscles are actually working while the horse is being worked. So if you were to put on a surcingle without a pad, would those muscles be active or would they be dormant?

If those muscles aren't working, then something is preventing it.. whether a tightness from being in the wrong position for a long time, or there's another issue which proper tissue massage would promote circulation.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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