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Is my saddle hurting my horse?

This is a discussion on Is my saddle hurting my horse? within the Horse Tack and Equipment forums, part of the Horse Tack category

     
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        04-07-2009, 11:45 PM
      #11
    Green Broke
    Just keep in mind that most trainers don't know diddley squat about saddle fitting... It sounds and looks like it doesn't fit. I would give her some time off of riding and have an equine chiropractor out to have her back looked at as well as your saddle fit.
         
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        04-08-2009, 12:05 AM
      #12
    Yearling
    We had a really good saddle fitter out for a clinic recently and I'm trying to remember what the 6 most important things were when checking to make sure a saddle fits your horse.....

    Stand your horse on level ground. Put the saddle a little ways up on her neck, above her withers, then with one hand push it into place stopping when the saddle naturally stops. Make sure it is behind her shoulders, not on them.

    Run your hand flat against your horse under the flaps/knee roll area from the pommel down, feeling for any tightness.

    Put your hand flat on your horse's back under the saddle at the front of the panels. Have someone push down slightly under the saddle while you run your hand all the way along the panels from front to back feeling for pressure points, gaps. You want even pressure all the way along the panels.

    See if you can rock the saddle front to back (not good if it does rock) or side to side (not good if it slides too much)

    Look from your horse's rear end through the channel between panels. You should be able to see light from front to back and the panels should clear your horse's spine on the sides.

    Look at the panels under the seat of your saddle and see if they sit evenly on your horse's back or only part of them touch, creating a pressure point.

    Make sure you have several inches clearance between the pommel and your horse's withers, at least an inch when mounted.

    Well, that's all I can remember but at least now when I buy a saddle I feel like I am making a fairly good choice!
         
        04-08-2009, 08:22 AM
      #13
    Green Broke
    Dana gave some great pointers above to check the fit yourself ^^

    If you'll take pictures of the saddle with no pad, lightly girthed up, we can give you an eyeball fitting. Take a picture from the side, whole horse. Take another from the rear, standing on a stool if you need to. Take a third at a 3/4 front view, so we can see how the front of the saddle lays against the shoulder. We need to see the WHOLE shoulder, not just the withers and pommel. When taking the photos, be sure the horse is on level ground, with his head at a normal relaxed position, weight on all 4 feet. I recommend getting some help to keep your horse standing correctly while you take photos.

    A good pad to prevent soreness once you get the fitting figured out is Thinline's Half pad or Contour pad. The TL material does a great job of eliminating pressure points and absorbing impact. I always use one and can feel a difference in my horse's stride. All of my saddles fit well too.
         
        04-08-2009, 10:31 AM
      #14
    Foal
    Are you using any kind of shock pad? I have an very wide appaloosa and I use a wide tree HDR on him, fits him like a glove. I use a sheepskin half pad and a baby pad. Sheepskin is great, I use it on all my horses even if it's just a trail ride. They all seem more comfortable with the sheepskin (Merino, if you can afford it). I would definitely use a shock pad for jumping, even if it's just one of those foam ones. Make sure she has clearance over her withers, both unmounted AND mounted. When you're sitting in the saddle it compresses down on her wither, with those low withered horses saddle fit can be really tricky. If she is seeming sore, I would get a saddle fitter out to check over your tack.
         
        04-08-2009, 05:16 PM
      #15
    Yearling
    Thanks everyone!

    danastark - those are great tips! I'm going to print them out so I don't forget when I go to do this lol.

    luvs2ride1979 - thanks for those picture tips as well, I'll get some good ones this weekend. :)

    cherriebark - Yay for wide backed appies! Lol. It's such a pain to find a saddle that fits us both now that she has grown. I don't have a shock pad, but I have found some cashel ones that are relatively inexpensive and I think I might get one of those.
         
        04-08-2009, 05:40 PM
      #16
    Green Broke
    Keep in mind that adding something like a cashel pad is not going to help. It will make her more comfortable for a little bit, but then it will end up pinching more. Think of wearing thick athletic socks with shoes that normally fit with thin socks. At first it feels okay, but soon your foot ends up cramped...
         
        04-08-2009, 05:49 PM
      #17
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by luvs2ride1979    
    Keep in mind that adding something like a cashel pad is not going to help. It will make her more comfortable for a little bit, but then it will end up pinching more. Think of wearing thick athletic socks with shoes that normally fit with thin socks. At first it feels okay, but soon your foot ends up cramped...
    Yea, that's why I think I will wait to get one until I know if I have to replace my saddle or not, then I can get one that will fit the new saddle.

    Hopefully I am just being silly and it does fit her! Lol. I love my saddle to death. :P
         
        04-09-2009, 12:56 PM
      #18
    Started
    It sounds to me like your saddle is pinching, and at this point it's also likely caused some chiropractic issues. I do equine evaluations and clinics that include saddle fit through Welcome to Equi-Eval | Full Service Equine Evaluations and would be happy to help if you're interested.

    In the short term what I see is a saddle that's too wide - so it's rocking - and also pinching shoulders. This will cause tenseness in the neck, as well as a stiffness about 3" behind where the saddle hits her back from the motion of the saddle rocking off her back, then hitting back down. Your horse will likely compensate by taking shorter, stiffer (more upright) strides due to not wanting to extend through the shoulder and neck, and the hind will lack flexion in the hocks and stifles even though the issue is actually in the mid-lower back.

    Circles will become increasingly hard where the horse has to bend at all, and leaning will become more of a habit to protect from pain. Because the saddle is pinching as well as hitting in the back, the horse will eventually develop an unwillingness to move forward that will likely start with a simple resistance, slight hesitation, or mild resistance to the aids, but eventually will likely progress to refusals to go forward, not wanting to stand to be mounted, or not even want to stand to be saddled/girthed at all. If you jump - this can also manifest into bucking (and bucking usually ensues even with the best of horses on the flat over enough time with an ill fitting saddle).

    Please keep in mind you can NOT pad a saddle to make it wider, so a saddle that is too narrow will ALWAYS be too narrow and no amount of padding will help. Think if you wear shoes that are too small and they cause your heels to blister, adding pads to cushion your heels will NOT make your shoes fit better. In fact, it's more than likely going to have the opposite effect causing the shoes to fit you even more tightly - and more uncomfortably. How does this translate to how YOU will move, walk, and act? Then translate that back to your horse.

    Also please keep in mind this is a lot of general information (above) and as I've not seen the full pictures of your horse to do an actual evaluation, I'm making some assumptions. If you're interested in learning more, please feel free to check out the site and email me and I'm happy to help/do a full eval for you :)

    Good luck!

    If you do need another saddle - I HIGHLY recommend the Bates and Wintec over any other line with the changeable gullets.
         
        04-09-2009, 05:04 PM
      #19
    Yearling
    ^ Thanks! That was really helpful. I am looking into the Wintec Close Contact, but the problem is the only place that sells them these days is 3 hours away. :(
    I'm looking out for others around the area though, maybe I'll get lucky and someone will be selling a used one around my size.
    I have a concern about synthetic saddles though ... a lot of people say that they are not that great for your horse because they do not change shape like a leather saddle does or something like that, and I was wondering if that is true? I love synthetic because they are so easy to take care of and I don't do hardly any showing, but if a leather saddle is better for my horse I would gladly stop being lazy and take the time to keep a leather saddle.
         
        04-11-2009, 09:30 PM
      #20
    Foal
    Your horse's behaviour problems definitely sound like a sore back or the saddle is pinching her. It should not rock on her back. It should not pinch her wither or sit too far forward on the shoulder. Also check the width of the gullet, all the way to the cantle. A too-narrow gullet can pinch the spine under your seat, even if the wither area fits the horse.
    Good luck, I hope you get some good advice from your coach.
         

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