Aussie saddle fit--help please!
So, I have an australian stock saddle that I've used with my new horse twice so far. I just can't for the life of me figure out if I have it in the proper place on my horses back, and it seems like everywhere I look for information has different positions. My main concern is freedom of movement and proper weight distribution.
The first time I rode, I had it pretty forward, like what I've read has said to do. It seemed to fit fine on the withers and scapula area, except when my horses front legs were back, it looked like the flap of the saddle was almost going under the ulna. She did not seemed bothered by it, and we rode for an hour or so and she did not show any signs of pain or annoyance, and was trotting or cantering perfectly fine. After the ride, her back was evenly sweaty so I figured I must have done it right.
Today I went on a trail ride with the woman who used to give me lessons, and as I was tacking up my horse, I asked her what she thought about the strange thing happening with the flap of the saddle. She said she thought it was too far forward and needed to go back some. I pushed it back, and she had full range of motion with her legs with no pinching and the girth was about 4-5 inches behind her legs. The front of the saddle was behind the scapula. She said that is how it should be. I know this is true for western, which is what I have been riding my whole life, but isn't Australian different?
We rode for about an hour, and when I got back there was a smallish (maybe 4x4 inches) dry spot on on each side of her back, just behind the withers. When I rubbed on her back she didn't show any signs of soreness, and she didn't show any signs of soreness while riding.
So, which is more important when properly placing the saddle? Even sweat distribution after the ride? Complete freedom of movement of the bones?
She was not showing any signs of pain or discomfort with either position.
Thank you for the help!
The picture posted is from the first ride, where the saddle was more forward. It's a really bad picture but is the only one I had that showed the saddle placement.
I'll take more pictures of the two placements when I see her on Tuesday.
The FLAP of the saddle may extend over the scapula, but the tree should not.
My own technique: Place the saddle on the horse's back. Barely buckle the cinch. Now walk the horse thru some figure 8s. Let the shoulder, if need be, push it back. Once it settles, start tightening the cinch (girth).
I went out today and didn't work Lakota very hard, but we played a little. Here's where I put the saddle today. I took your advice bsms and barely cinched it and walked her in figure 8s and let it settle. I know my pad needs to be more centered, but since we were just playing, I didn't re-do it. How's the saddle placement look to you?
Looks a lot better to me!
I think it looks pretty good in that recent picture. Did you ride her? How did it feel? Could you check sweat marks? She is a very nice looking horse.
you cannot tell , or rather WE cannot tell, much about the fit without pics of the front, side , back and at shoulder angle. and on horse wihtout a pad on.
it looks "normal" form waht you show, but can't tell much from those photos.
Near about EVERY Aussie saddle I've ever seen had a bad fit. Now, that isn't a very fair observation because I havne't seen that many Aussie saddles, but every one I did see was NOT well designed to fit a horse's back. I think I have not seen the better quality ones.
We're still getting used to each other, and each day is a new day to learn that things that may seem scary really aren't...like piles of poop in a pasture. She also freaked out about the SHADOW of a little windmill that was maybe a foot in diameter. The windmill wasn't scary, but that spinning shadow on the ground was just too much to handle. We worked through it though :-)
Anyway, I'm having a couple problems that perhaps someone could help me with.
1. I can't for the life of me get my stirrups to feel just right. I'm only 5'0 so I'm very small and have very short legs. I had my stirrups so that my legs were long, but then I wasn't keeping my seat at a trot very well, and I lost a stirrup, so I thought they were too long. So then I shortened them up a knotch and they felt more comfortable for sitting my trot, and I was able to keep my heels down. My legs weren't as long as in western though, but I felt better.
2. Once I had the stirrups shorter where I felt better, the problem is that the buckles that keep the proper hole rub on my shins. I currently have 2 very large green and purple bruises on my shins, because my cowgirl boots do not go high enough to protect me from the hardware. I asked for some paddock boots with equileather half chaps for Christmas to protect against the metal. Until then, I was thinking about getting some cheap leg warmers or something, and slipping them over the hardware on the stirrup itself.
3. The saddle pad I use has a neoprine (sp?) underside, and a friend said they can force a horse to sweat? Is this true? Since we cantered for maybe a collective minute, and mostly moseyed around the pasture, we didn't work up much of a sweat. She had a little sweat on her shoulders kind of where the flap of the saddle comes over her leg (know what I mean?) but other than that she was dry. Even the cinch area was dry. Is there supposed to be even sweat instantly, or is it more after just a good workout?
This weekend I'm going to tack her up and do lots of ground work with her, because she hasn't had groundwork in a while and I believe it is a good bonding experience and a good way for her to learn to trust me because I'm the boss. I think she'll have a good workout when we do that, and I'll be able to see how she moves in the saddle from the ground.
Any extra suggestions? I really appreciate all your help!
Next time I'm out, I will take photos without the saddle pad and post them. It's all a learning experience! As for riding her in it the way I have been (like the photo) she has not shown any signs of discomfort while riding and seems to move freely at all gaits. After each ride, I've been checking her withers and all along her back and shoulders for tenderness, and she has not shown any yet. I'm not sure how long it would take to cause muscle soreness after a ride in an ill-fitting saddle?
I know that white hairs are also a sign of an ill fitting saddle, and currently she has one single white hair on her back just beneath her withers...I don't think it's related.
Ok guys, I got some decent pictures of the saddle without the pad and I feel like it looks pretty good. Let me know what you think. Also, please ignore the colorful fluff on my stirrup leathers...my cowgirl boots don't go up high enough to protect me from the buckle, and I'm bruised because of it. I asked for paddock boots and half chaps for christmas, so until then, I have fuzzy socks and leg warmers to cover the metal. :lol:
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