My comfy old aussie and my shark fin TWH Ugh! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 08-07-2012, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Mountains of NH
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My comfy old aussie and my shark fin TWH Ugh!

I was given a walker mare last fall that was in pretty rough (skeletal) shape. It's been pretty much all this time fattening her back up. She is finally in good enough shape to ride lightly and build her top line and rump back up.

I've taken her for a few easy walks down the trails using my old textan hereford with semi QH bars. Saddle fits fine with a cut back pad. I had used this on a smaller but similar shaped mare previously. Just a nice, comfy old saddle. It's summer, the western is kind of heavy and hot so I dragged out the aussie I used on the same smaller mare. I rode yesterday for maybe an hour. Just walking and another hour working on the troll under the bridge. When I got back to the house I noticed the saddle had slipped back a bit. Didn't think too much of it, I hadn't really tightened the girth down a bunch. She was gaiting very nicely, not pacey like I expected. Couldn't have felt too bad.

Today was another gorgeous day so I figured we would vanquish the troll under the bridge and head up the high country trails for a bit. We made it over the bridge, halfway backwards. Headed up the road with little trouble. Probably a few miles up I felt the saddle slip back again. I started dismounting to tighten the girth. The saddle slipped back past the halfway point and rolled underneath. I was clear and unscathed and fortunately Katiebug is pretty level headed for a green horse and just stood there while I unhitched an upside down saddle. Decided not to kill myself and my horse in the middle of nowhere so I just tightened things up just enough where we could both walk home. Or so I thought...even with me just leading the mare the saddle would slip back and roll. So I tightened the girth more and continued on home. Slipped again, repeated the process and again and I finally pulled it as tight as if I were mounting. Still slipped with no rider. Made for a very long and unpleasant walk home but we made it. Got to my back gate and let her in that way. Stashed the saddle behind some brush and got the truck to bring it back. Horse was cool, I was soaked.

Now I'm sitting here wondering. The western saddle fit fine. No issues other than I didn't want to lift a heavy saddle onto a 16 hand horse in summer.

The aussie saddle had last been used on my gaited standarbred, who did a running walk and would rack when I let her. Smaller mare but only by 2 inches. Same huge shoulder, same tall wither. The fit shouldn't have been that atrocious. I had even played with sliding the saddle up and down on her back to find the right spot. When I had what seemed like the right spot I could put all 4 fingers between wither and saddle.

I used an acrylic blend navaho type blanket, weaver, from tractor supply. Not sure were my old cotton square pads went. The girth was a cheapy from ebay. Bought because the old one was also awol. Should have been fine for a couple hours in the woods. I did expect it to stretch some.

Fly spray...homemade mix of avon skin so soft, permethrin and water with a few drops of citronella. I coated the horse pretty good and it was getting to the end of the bottle. Was a little heavy on the skin so soft oil.

(I know I should show some pics of the saddle on the horse but I'm beat. Soon, promise.)

I'm wondering did I make the saddle float on the horse with the bug spray? It wasn't all that hot. 76 degrees with a breeze. Was it the cheap blanket? Cheap girth?

Before I let the horse go I fiddled with saddle and no pad. Seems like I had to have the saddle pretty far up onto her shoulder to get the girth in the right spot behind her legs.

Never had one in all these years fit so bad. Had a few where I said this won't do and bought another but not like this where I putting the saddle back on top every 15 feet. And if it was so bad how did I manage to get 2 or 3 miles out into the woods?

I like that old aussie. I've had it for 18 years now. It wasn't an expensive one but it isn't asian garbage either. When my old standardbred passed I kept it in the house and cleaned and oiled it regularly for when I got another gaited horse it would fit. Ack!!

I will try to pics of the saddle sitting on the horse tomorrow. Dark here now.

I'm not much of horse photographer. I will have a little fun and leave you with a picture of her grandpa. She looks like him big time! Not going to be a chunky TWH. He's got that funky wither too. Pretty sure this saddle would fit him the same.

Last edited by SueNH; 08-07-2012 at 08:45 PM.
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post #2 of 14 Old 08-07-2012, 09:27 PM
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I have lots of thoughts on this so forgive me if I get a little fractured...

Provided that it does fit her well (4 fingers between gullet+withers sounds too narrow to me though - pictures will tell more) I have no issue with using a breastcollar/crupper to help combat slippage.
On my mare, my Aussie (set to "wide") is just the tiniest bit narrow(if she were less obese, it'd be a different story, of course! haha), we ride over some really steep terrain, and she's a typical Polish Arab - all wide body, flat back, no withers (your girl's shoulders+wither reminds me of my girl). So, I use a breastcollar AND a crupper on her. I've found that either piece by itself works ok but together they create a real anti slippage brigade.

However, from the 4 finger comment, it sounds like your saddle may be a smidge narrow for her. Even if the too narrow-ness is very mild, coupled with the wrong pad/outside circumstances, I have DEFINITLY been in the same situation. lol

The other thing is that, I don't know about other people, when I've tried using a navajo pad with my, that did not end well. Something about it just turned my horse's back into a slip n' slide, and not in a fun way.
I've had the best luck with dressage-style pads that are made of flannel/flannel-like material on one or both sides. Somehow they seem to grip the hair the best.

The other thing, I don't remember where the documentation for this is, I seem to remember learning a few months back that where the girth is actually doesn't matter. Place the saddle in the right place (behind the shoulder blade) and the girth will apparently adjust itself into the most correct spot for that horse. I was a skeptic until I started doing it to my mare. My girth does shift forward slightly from the saddle but my mare is comfortable, the saddle stays correctly placed, and no one is getting I guess it must be ok.
That could have an effect of this slippage matter.

Anyway, the most informative thing would be pictures.
And I want to express my sympathy, rides were you're constantly having to get off and rearrange a saddle are the worst. Back before I got my whole saddle situation figured out, I was often getting off once every 5-10 minutes to rearrange the pad/pull the saddle forward/pull the saddle back/etc etc. The worst!!

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #3 of 14 Old 08-07-2012, 09:43 PM
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um even if your saddle fits, Never put bug spray under a saddle, good way to get some chemical burns or irritations.
Acrylic blankets are pretty slick. but I say that saddle simply doesnt fit for squat. I can get on and off and ride my walker with Aussi saddle and girth loose enough to stick a couple fingers between the girth and sternum. If you gotta torque a girth like that the saddle doesnt fit.
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post #4 of 14 Old 08-07-2012, 09:54 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
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All my riding is done with a cheap acrylic navajo blanket, a Wintec wither pad, a felt cinch and saddle.

I'd say saddle fit sucks.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #5 of 14 Old 08-07-2012, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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I walked home. Safer. It could be days before somebody noticed I was missing.

I guess I know it doesn't fit. But the saddle is so darn comfortable I was hoping I might hear another answer. I'm annoyed with myself for not noticing sooner.

Torque a saddle tight? I'm not able to torque things all that tight. I'm a 5'4", 53 yr old woman. Can't get a lot of torque from the ground on a 16 hand horse. Too short. As tight as I can get it still allows my hand to slip in between. Did just that before I took off. Because I did pull the girth up one more hole than I had it the day before.

Same with the 4 fingers...looks around for something everybody would recognize... same height as a "D" sized battery or a cigarette minus the filter. Not that big.

The saddle has some pretty thick stuffing. I should check around and see if anybody around here can re-stuff an aussie. I may still be able to get it right.

Didn't spray under the saddle area either. When I saw I was getting a lot of bath oil I soaked her mane and tail. Figured it might condition it a bit. Horse was already saddled.
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post #6 of 14 Old 08-07-2012, 11:24 PM
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I took another look at your picture. The Arabian mare I sold a couple of years ago had what looked like a prominent wither, but in reality it was all above the shoulder. By the time you got back to where the saddle was, she didn't have much.

It may be the tilt in the ground or how she is standing, but your horse reminds me of Lilly - witherwise. She looks like she has a lot of wither to anchor the saddle, but maybe she doesn't.

The first step will be to take a close look at how the saddle fits on her - when you are rested, clear minded, and recovered! Check how the cinch goes under and make certain it is at the spot that is the smallest distance around - which may or may not leave your cinch/girth vertical. Mine tilts forward.

I hadn't thought about it, but the foam pad I use might improve the grip between saddle and cheap blanket. However, I used to use a folded wool blanket, so that probably isn't the correct answer.

For finding the best spot on the horse's back...I put it on loose. Very loose. Then I don't just walk the horse some, but I put her thru some tight figure 8s. That gives her shoulders a chance to shove the saddle back if needed. Your girl looks to have a pretty serious set of shoulders!

I don't know your saddle's brand, but DownUnder will resize their saddles for $60 as of last year. May be higher now. You pay shipping there, they pay shipping back. They might do other people's saddles. Give them a call.

That is all I can think of right now. Good luck!

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #7 of 14 Old 08-08-2012, 09:37 AM Thread Starter
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I think but I'm not swearing to it because it was so long ago that it's an Australian Outrider? It's one that is made in Brazil as opposed to India. Has a gold wool bottom and the stuffing feels to be more wool.

She is all shoulder movement. I've never seen her trot or even canter in the field. Even when I cut her loose last night on the back gate and she headed across 20 acres to the barn she paced flat out like a harness racer.

At the beginning of both rides there is a small road bridge over the river. She doesn't want to cross it. Both times we got into a pretty fair argument about crossing. I can lead her across without much problem. Only gives the stink eye if you lead her. Riding she balks pretty bad. It's one of the reasons I'm so confused about the saddle. If it was going to slip it should have done so there instead of a few miles down a gentle trail. We actually went halfway across the bridge going backwards.

Then there is the other maddening thing... I had another saddle like it only a touch bigger. It's missing. It was in the barn and my husband had piled construction materials around it so I couldn't get to. Didn't have a riding horse it would fit so I only complained occasionally about getting the tack out of there. Barn roof started leaking in that area so I had some relatives help me move all the doors and things out of the way to rescue the tack. I guess when I moved the junk out I opened it up for an unwanted visitor. I'm missing the aussie, most of my english pads and girths, a couple of bridles. Most had been draped across the saddle so it must have been a quick scoop and take off. I keep watching for it. Has a very distinctive donkey bite mark on the back of the seat. Probably long gone from the area.

My neck and shoulders ache this morning like a winter storm is coming. Got my arthritis all riled up. I lifted that saddle back way too many times. I move and sound like a bowl of rice krispies.

There is a barn not too far away that has a lot of high end dressage saddles. They probably know somebody that re-flocks saddles.

I just realized I don't have any pictures of this horse where she isn't eating. Oh well she needs it. She really is shaped just like her grand-sire. I can see the same thing going on in the shoulder. Put a saddle just behind the shoulder in the pocket and you've got a saddle in the middle of the back.

I've got to work today but if life goes as planned I'll have time to take a few pics.
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post #8 of 14 Old 08-08-2012, 08:45 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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This one is kind of hard to see but my hand is right at the edge of her shoulder blade. The saddle had been bumped back by a huge muscle between my thumb and index finger. You can see the little indentation where neck meets body just above my hand, where the long lock of mane is.

This is where it wants to sit but it's too far back. At this point it continues to keep heading back.

and where you want to put it when you first lift it up... two or three steps and it's knocked back but this is where the girth is positioned just behind her legs.

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post #9 of 14 Old 08-08-2012, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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This one is a pic of her the day after I got her. Little to do with the saddle except you can clearly see her bone structure. That's already a full winter coat too.
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post #10 of 14 Old 08-08-2012, 09:10 PM
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Eyeballing it, I'd guess the shoulder muscle pushes it back past where the withers drop off. She then has a very flat back, so there is nothing to keep it from going further back. Maybe try Wallaby's suggestion of a breastcollar...just make sure it doesn't lead to the saddle digging into the shoulder muscle.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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