Filling out at the withers...can't use my saddle! - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By tinyliny
  • 1 Post By livelovelaughride
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post #1 of 5 Old 09-28-2020, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: BC
Posts: 546
• Horses: 2
Filling out at the withers...can't use my saddle!

Hi all,
I've had my new TB for almost 3 months now. He came to me with a pretty sore back and wither, so I've been taking it easy. We've been working on relaxation and long and low, just walk and trot for the time being. His massage therapist and chiro have been out multiple times and are happy with his progress. I had my saddle checked for fit a couple times by a saddle fitter and massage gal.

Suddenly I'm noticing my saddle not fitting at the tree. I'd had rear shims with the saddle, took them out, then took off the sheepskin half today with just the saddle and a Back on Track saddle pad, noted how tight the tree area was. Had my trainer check it....its too tight and restricts his shoulders.

Rather than ride him and make the shoulder blade area sore, I opted for a bareback lesson instead. It was fine, you could tell he wasn't sure about it at first but got used to me.

I'm not familiar with how quickly horses can put muscle on or loose it. What I do everyday is the (April Battles) yoga stretches. I saw with my other horse how it made the area behind the wither fill in but this is unreal. Given he is just 11, I'm looking to get an adjustable dressage saddle for him. But what can I expect in terms of muscle building such that I need to get my saddle re-adusted every ...what...couple times a year? I will start to document his topline more. I just didn't think he would change this quickly given the amount of work we have been doing.
livelovelaughride is offline  
post #2 of 5 Old 09-28-2020, 08:32 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2013
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Given you've had him for 3 months during which time he has been getting adjustments, learning to use his body correctly and building muscle in places that were near atrophied with loss...
I would be disheartened if he did not make much noticeable improvement.

Every horse is going to respond on their own timeline to changes you are doing, exercises you are working and the care of the specific masseuse and body worker...
I don't think you can say this many times a year he will need adjustments..
I do think you will see more gross changes at first, then as time goes on it will be fine-tuning and minuscule but very important for the animals well-being and your mind-set to know he is good as he can get in comfort.

While he is in limbo...learning to use forgotten muscles, feeling better and having a saddle needing to be watched for good fit and tweaked I think the adjustable is a good idea..
Once you reach the point where he is muscled correctly, now riding back to front with front elevated and light, and at a weight level that fits your needs and his body requirements I would then look for a fixed tree.

A honest disclaimer: ... I have no experience with adjustable, just a bad feeling about them loosening and shifting, breaking under daily ride stress..
Changing gullet patterns more often as you will be doing, having flocking needing done, again and again all takes a toll on a saddle whether anyone wants to admit it or not...
Again, my gut feeling but for the intermediate issues being corrected fine...but once he finds a plateau of condition, then find a saddle that fits him with a solid tree and support system that agrees with his musculature and skeleton as it is..jmo.

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #3 of 5 Old 09-29-2020, 04:22 AM
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Hi, firstly yes, saddles & horses do change shape over time, so it's good practice to check fit a couple of times a year & adjust accordingly regardless.

Secondly, if the saddle (forks I guess you mean, as 'tree' is the frame) pinches the horse's shoulders it is too far forward! While the flaps can be forward of that point, no weightbearing region of the tree should be further forward than *at least* an inch or 2 behind the back of the scapula.

Most 'adjustable' saddles only have an adjustable gullet plate - which is great, and help them fit more horses/conditions, but the gullet width/angle is but one of many considerations when fitting a static piece of kit to a dynamic body(that you also want to perform athletically). There are other types which have adjustable/changeable panels & such. The newer Wintecs have changeable gullet plate as well as adjustable panels. I don't know what they're like first hand tho.
loosie is offline  
post #4 of 5 Old 09-29-2020, 05:03 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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why did you have rear shims before? and then why remove them?

While I'm sure your horse has filled out nicely with your thoughtful exercising of him, this shimming has something to do with this.
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tinyliny is offline  
post #5 of 5 Old 09-29-2020, 08:29 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: BC
Posts: 546
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...cause in my ignorance I thought the extra cushioning would help dissipate my weight impact? Him having a tight back and not wanting to exacerbate that.

That configuration was checked a couple times early on...but last week we noticed how tight the tree point at the shoulder was. The shim was tipping the saddle forward then.

Theres no way that saddle can be adjusted, poor horse was limping at the trot as it was too tight. I readjusted it further back and same limp. Aborted the ride gave him massage and 3 days off. Today lunging he looked fine whew.

Anyway I'm after a custom saddle that I expect to hopefully make changes along the way. Tho today was talking to a gal whose on her 6th saddle...good thing she works at a tack shop! Thanks for the great comments. Much appreciated.
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