Can gullet width be changed?

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Can gullet width be changed?

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  • gullet too narrow
  • Gullet channel width

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    07-02-2011, 02:29 PM
Question Can gullet width be changed?

I got a new Corbette dressage saddle a few months ago. I had the help of a saddle fitter while choosing the saddle in the store, and he had measurements for the tree width already. However, he was never able to see the saddle on my horse. I did a lot of research on saddle fitting after this, including watching all of the Schleese videos, so that I could asses how the saddle fits the horse on my own.

As far as I can tell, everything fits well accept for the gullet width, which is adequately wide (I think) under the pommel but tapers to about half that width at the cantle. I understand that this is a common issue, and it certainly is comfortable for me but probably not for my horse. It looks like it just barely clears the area around the spine while positioned straight, but wouldn't it then sit directly on the spine when we go around turns?

I am wondering if a saddle can/should be modified to have a wider gullet channel in the back. To my very amateur eye it seems that the panels could be remade or repositioned to be farther apart. I know a great master saddler (the same guy as above) who could alter the saddle for me, but I don't want to trouble him if this isn't even possible.

Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated. I really don't want to have to get a new saddle as I saved up for years for this one, but my horse's comfort comes first.
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    07-02-2011, 05:46 PM
Alas, it cannot. Trust me, I contacted a few Saddlers asking them this very question, with the answer of "nope".

Unfortunately. So that means I have to get rid of my current saddle, and am now in search of yet, another saddle, with a wider gullet channel width.

Yay.............................what fun...............
    07-03-2011, 12:29 AM
I was hoping that wouldn't be true! Well, this is going to make my life more complicated. Thank you for sharing, MIEventer.

Another question then: does a too-narrow gullet width under the cantle cause significant problems that I should definitely get a new saddle? I'm sure that I already know the answer but I have to ask, at least. Why do so many saddles have this problem if it is bad for the horse?
    07-03-2011, 10:53 AM
The reason why they make saddles this way, it so make it comfortable for the rider, not the horse. The most common twist in a saddle, is narrow, and in order for saddlers to accomodate this, they bring the rear pannels in closer together to get this result.

But, many have caught onto this issue, and if you really do take a good look around, MANY models that are coming out now, are coming out with rear gullet channels that are 3, to 4 finger widths.

2 fingers are less is not desireable, as you already know - because of the pressure on the spine.

But, here's the thing - as you asked, can the narrow gullet width cause significant damage. Yes and no. Yes, the narrow gullet width can impede the development of the lower back, but if you pad up, you can re-distribute that pressure where it starts further down the back. Pad it up, and see what happens. See where the weight is distributed.

So, I have a wide. My horse is a narrow uptop, but he has broad shoulders - so I have to go wide to accomodate his shoulders. I have to pad up. So when I my Thinline Sheepskin Half Pad, the panel pressure in the rear of the saddle, is re-distributed further down his back. But, the issue is still there.

Can you contact the saddler who worked with you, and ask them if this workable or not?

A wider gullet, will remove the pressure from his spine, regardless. That's why I am looking into a newer saddle, with a wider gullet. I love my M.T Premia, so I'm going to stick with that model, but a newer one, with the wider gullet.
    07-03-2011, 11:59 AM
Thank you for all of your help, I really appreciate it! It's hard to find information about this for some reason.

I will certainly be trying things before I sell the saddle. I like your padding idea, and I will call my saddle maker friend for a second opinion, but it's good to have some perspective. These horses do keep us on our toes, don't they?
    07-03-2011, 02:37 PM
You may be concerned for nothing. When you ride you are constantly moving as is the horse. Unless he is displaying issues leading to a sore back I'd continue with the saddle. What is a perfect fit one day isn't the same fit in a month's time.

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