I've got a 16h TB that I've been riding in a old passed down dressage saddle, who has been only recently experiencing short stridedness, chopping inconsistent gates, and the inability to travel straight when doing upward (walk to trot) transitions (he will veer to the right when I ask him to trot). The catch: these issues started when I began riding him in my new close contact saddle. The saddle has the same gullet measurements, tree width, and seat size as the dressage saddle. It appears balanced as well. My horse doesn't seem to show any pain when palpating his withers or spine although he does seem to be getting girthy. He is not lame, just reluctant to get going. He will trot quite nicely and effortlessly after about a 20 minute warmup. After riding the sweat marks are even and there are no dry spots or rubbed areas. I am perplexed. He is a lazy horse and it has been very warm so I'm wondering if he is trying to pull a fast one on me. ;)
What do you all think? I've attached pictures of his back, the front view of the saddle (no pad, girthed up) and the side view to show the balance. The pad I use is an A/P quilted pad with a thin layer of sheepskin padding along the topline. I'm wondering if it adds too much bulk? Maybe making the saddle too tight?
Appreciate your thoughts.