Saddle Pain? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 12-16-2007, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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Saddle Pain?

Hm I'm stumped. I had my horses back checked, he's A-Okay. He's fine when I ride him bareback and with a bareback saddle pad and all that jazz but when I put a real saddle on, he snaps his tail as if he's in pain or agitated whenever I am doing ground work with him or on his back. I've checked the saddle and it fits just fine. Its not pinching. Could it be too wide and pressing awkwardly on his back/withers? The girth isn't too tight, nor is it too loose to where the saddle flops around. Its just enough to hold the saddle in place. I ride and work him under an All Purpose English Saddle and a English Jumping Saddle. Both of which he reacts equally to in this way. I tie up or remove the stirrups to make sure they aren't hitting him in the sides either.

What I do is I lunge him, and when I ask him to do anything more than walk, like trot for example, he'll trot a few steps and then his ears will pin and his tail will start flicking. Cantering is worse. He'll be reluctant at first and then he'll buck and reverse away from me as if I'm about to beat him, and sometimes rear before falling into a canter. As far as I know, he's NEVER been whipped, abused or hit associating with a saddle or lunge line, and does beautifully without a saddle on and with a bareback saddle pad on, and I know its not the lunge line because I've done it in a round pen too with the same results.

After that first time he doesn't throw any more fits about it but he does whirl his tail and pin his ears periodically. It's not like he's never had a saddle on before, he's broke to ride and all that, he's 7 years old. I've had him about a month or two and he's been like this for as long as I've had him.

Is there something I'm missing here? I'm totally stumped. If my little guy's in pain, I don't want to make him endure anymore of it. All opinions and suggestions are welcome.
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post #2 of 9 Old 12-16-2007, 08:59 PM
Green Broke
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My horses friends is the same exact way! she has to tighten the girth ltttle by little if she doesnt she goes CRAZY!! and when u ride her she shakes her tell like she is in pain..They had the vet check her out and he said nothin was wrong with her..but then they found out what the problem was! She would not use the bathroom (#1) while she was under saddle she would hold it in until she was not under it was causeing her alot of pain..she is still like this that havent been able to stop it..but to me this seems like a similasr suitation maybe
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post #3 of 9 Old 12-16-2007, 09:03 PM
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Here's two other possibilities:

The horse might not me showing any respect


The horse might have a sore back - a lot of your weight is put onto the withers. Blu has high withers which make his back sensitive. The withers may not be adequately protected.

Blu is the same when he has to go to the bathroom. He won't urinate while under the saddle unless it is URGENT. I've had times where we are walking to cool out and he just urinates in motion. lol.

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post #4 of 9 Old 12-17-2007, 06:56 AM
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Happened to me once with western saddle, but... I didn't tie the saddle and it was like you said "just about to stay in place". When I started to canter her, the saddle started "jump up" on her back pretty visible. She run into bucking. As long as girth was tight she was OK.

Does he act at all when you try to tight the girth? If he does it's first sign something wrong with his back.
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post #5 of 9 Old 12-17-2007, 02:39 PM
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We need pictures of him with and without his saddle. You could be putting it too far forward on him. Check the tree too. If it's not sound, it could be causing him pain.

I would try a ThinLine pad with it though, one of their Contour pads. They do a great job of eliminating pressure points and potecting the horse's back, and they don't trap heat. They are also thin, so they don't change your saddle fit. Use it over a thin quilted pad. They have a 30-day guarantee, so if you don't love it, you can send it back for a refund. I have two of these pads, one for English and one for Western, and I can really feel the difference! My picky gelding doesn't act up so much and my mare's canter and transitions are much smoother with no head tossing at the trot/canter transitin anymore.

I would also have a chiro out, one that is also a vet. He could have a rib out of place that only the saddle agrivates.

"To be an equestrian in the classical sense is not just to be a rider. It is a position in life." --Charles de Kunffy

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post #6 of 9 Old 12-20-2007, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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I'll take some pictures tonight when I go out. He's horrible about tightening the girth. When the girth starts to brush his hair at all he begins to dance and nearly crushes me against the wall because as soon as I start to tighten, he starts hopping over in my direction until I'm squished. I usually have to go very incrementally, one notch up here and then get out of the way and push him back where he belongs, then wait a minute for him to stand still before I can do it again. Sometimes he gets so dancey I have to trick him with food to keep him occupied in order to get him to stay still to tighten it without crushing me.

I am using a thin quilted pad. I'll take some pictures of him and see if I am putting the saddle up too high at first because after he throws a fit for a while the saddle slides way back and then he's usually ok.

Do you think getting one of those "gel" wither-relief pad inserts would help? I'm not sure if you know what they are, but they are an extra pad you put between the saddle pad and saddle and its a kind of like gel (like those gel foot pads) for extra padding for the withers and saddle pressure points but I'm wondering if that will only ADD to the pressure I may be causing him.

I just got a brand new unused saddle and I'm going to try it on him tonight. I'm wondering if it will add to the pressure or not since its not broken in, the old saddle might have a damaged tree as you've mentioned as it is on its last leg, its safely ridable for the ride but I'm questioning the comfort of the horse, but very worn and old. I'm wondering if that is a possible factor.

The bathroom might be a factor but I'm not so sure. He doesn't poo a lot when I'm on him, I think he has only once or twice, its a rare thing. He usually does that when he's turned out or after I untack him. He doesn't do it urgently like he'd been waiting to do it or anything like that, its usually a good ten or fifteen minutes even and sometimes not at all after I untack him, so I'm not leaning toward this as a factor yet.
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post #7 of 9 Old 01-03-2008, 02:27 PM
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Hi Abby - I was wondering how your horse is doing? I had posted under "training/behaviour" as my horse recently began doing the same thing but only under saddle. Longeing with saddle he is fine. But under saddle, lately, when asked to go from walk to trot, he swishes tail hard, pins ears and refuses to go forward, and lately, does little cow kicks or he's starting to buck (I can't tell from on his back, but it feels like a hop or kick). My horse has high withers, but worse yet, deep dips behind each wither. I really feel that when I start posting, he starts hurting. I have a wintec pro dressage with adj. gullet and a mattes corrective pad (the thick one). I too am stumped. I ride again tomorrow but as of yesterday, I cannot get this horse to move forward from a walk :( Just wondering how your guy is doing and if you discovered anything? I am about ready to try a Thinline pad - I've heard great things. I may try to post pics later. Thx.
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post #8 of 9 Old 01-03-2008, 06:36 PM
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I'm just adding my 2 cents not sure if it will help. My horse did the same thing when I tried switching pads on her. I ride western with a Skito pad which I love and Vida does too. I got the bright idea to get a thin wool underpad to try to keep my Skito clean. We made it about 2 miles when Vida stopped dead on the trail refusing to go forward. When I could persuade her she would pin her ears and just have general fits, even turning and biting at my leg. I finally figured out she was biting at the pad on her back. I got home after much fighting took off the pad and promptly threw it in the trash (my husband nabbed it and he uses it on Sass) I have never had her act that way again. Moral of the story is if the saddle fits, check your pad. it may be too thick, pulling hairs on their back or pinching.

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France
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post #9 of 9 Old 01-04-2008, 08:53 PM
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This sounds like the saddle or the pad, I personally would try a skito pad with a treeless saddle. The advantage to treeless is that it will fit all of your horses. Also, this could possibly be a weight issue. My horse was crabby whenever I rode him because I didn't have a shock absorbing pad and it was hurting him. You probably won't get your answer until a trainer comes and looks at him though.
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