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kristy 06-16-2007 07:01 PM

Saddle fitting & dry spots
My new saddle arrived today. It has an adjustable tree that I'm trying to adjust to the perfect size according to my mare's extremely wide withers. I have ridden a couple of times and am slowly getting closer to the correct size.

Her movement isn't restricted, she doesn't object to the saddle, her spine has clearance, the saddle seems balanced, & I can fit 2-3 fingers between the saddle and her. I also feel balanced when riding.

However, I am still getting dry spots behind the withers. They are not very small, about 3 inches wide. I couldn't work up a good sweat today to really judge.

If a horse has dry spots behind the withers, is this solely due to a saddle being too narrow? Or could this be because it is too wide?

barnrat 06-18-2007 04:05 AM

not to sure kristy, But I was talking to one of the ladys at the barn just a couple of days ago that found a great way to measure your horse! You get a flexible ruler (usually about a foot long and used for sewing.) and you put the middle of it just behind ( or was it in front?!) the whithers. You then bend it down and fit it around the horse. You then take it off and trace it to a piece of paper.. I guess the tree of the saddle should be no bigger or no smaller on either side.

kristy 06-19-2007 05:58 PM

Right. That's a wither trace. =)

My mare's back is like a table top and extremely hard to fit. I did the wither trace but wasn't satisfied. I think I'm going to have to ride over and over & read the sweat marks until I get it down right.

Thanks for your reply though!

hsharp123 06-20-2007 05:45 AM

Hi Kristy,

I dont mean to sound silly but what are dry spots?and do you mean on her skin/coat or on the saddle cloth?
If there is something i havent heard of before i always make sure i ask you see....(how you learn i geuss! hehe)

Elz x

kristy 06-21-2007 12:36 AM

The only way to learn is to ask. :wink:

Firstly, I have intensively researched saddle fitting for a bit now. I believe I have finally conquered my saddle. (THANK GOD) I have read so many articles on what to look for when fitting a saddle, but hardly any information how how to make corrections.

After a ride, do you ever look at the sweat marks left by the saddle on the saddle pad? Learning to read them can just about describe how a saddle fits your horse.

A correctly fitting saddle has distinct sweat marks left behind on the saddle pad. If you flip the saddle pad over, it should look like so (english saddle):

If there are places under the saddle that are dry (dry spots), then the saddle is ill fitting. Generally, dry spots are due to extreme pinching, bridging or air coming up the saddle (saddle being unbalanced). Generally, dry spots are directly behind the withers and are caused by a too narrow tree. When the saddle pinches too much, the skin loses a certain amount of circulation and therefore can not sweat. This can cause long term damage and several problems under saddle.

Spirithorse 06-21-2007 11:33 AM

You want an even sweat pattern. Dry spots mean there is pressure in that area, and that can be because of an ill fitting saddle or the saddle being "down hill." Dry spots are not good. That can lead to atrophied muscles and muscle pain, thus the horse will compensate and usually hollow his back out. Dry spots behind the withers/shoulders can also cause a horse to have rotated shoulders.

Make sure to place the saddle BEHIND the horse's scapula at MAXIMUM EXTENSION. Not just while the horse is standing there. You'll need to pull his leg up and out to find the max. extension of his scapula. The first weight bearing part of the saddle goes directly behind that place. More then likely you will need to shim your saddle because it will be down hill. These saddle pads are really good! I have one and it's amazing!

hsharp123 06-21-2007 07:16 PM

Hi Kristy, Ask if you dont know and well... thats my theory and im sticking to it! hehe

Ok well i am definately going to make my mare sweat tomorrow and take a look- i just have the saddle fitter out normally but from now on i will take closer examination of saddle cloths before they jump in the washer!

Thank you! But sorry i couldnt help you- not my subject area! :wink:

Elz x

kristy 06-21-2007 07:34 PM

Glad I could help. =)

Just a tip: Do you have a cotton one you could use? Wool wicks away moisture. Also, a VERY clean horse can make it a bit more difficult to see, but I doubt many people have that problem. :wink:

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