Saddle fit confusion - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 05-23-2019, 02:41 PM Thread Starter
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Question Saddle fit confusion

I have a question about saddle fit, as I have gotten some conflicting information from an equine massage therapist who did a saddle fit consult with my 2 western saddles. To start, I have a 17 year old western pleasure bred quarter horse, he is slighter built with average withers, who is slightly downhill in the shoulders. He is a hobby/ pet, and is ridden 30- 60 min about 3 times a week during spring summer and fall, weather permitting. Some of this riding time includes a riding lesson from an instructor, who has checked my saddle fit, and watched his movement, balance, and looked at his sweat pattern and checked for pressure marks, etc. which are all showing a fit that is working for him.

Yesterday I had a massage therapist work on my horse for some soreness in his shoulder, and was told itís not due to saddle fit, the cause is most likely a cervical vertebra that is out, which can be fixed by a chiropractor. She checked all his muscles and said that everything feels good, no soreness or muscle atrophy, swelling or problem spots in the saddle area. She then proceeded to check my saddles for fit and told me that they fit horribly and were causing problems, not 20 min after she told me that he had no signs of bad fit. She also told me that my circle y flex tree saddle, which is the better fitting one, impeded his movement, but he moves better when I use that saddle. She did not assess his movement, with or without either saddle.

I was also told by the saddle fit person that everyone should ride in a 15 inch seat because bigger ones are to long (my horse is shorter backed). Everything I have ever read tells me different. I am a heavier rider, I ride in a 16 and 17 inch seat, which I fit in and balance well, I do not fit and canít balance as well in a 15 inch seat. The saddle that she told me was horrible and I should never ride in, is the one that I have been using more lately. If it is as horrible as she clams wouldnít my trainer or I see some indication? He has never shown any soreness or signs of pressure rubs after our rides, even the longer, more intense lessons or trail rides. Do my saddles fit perfectly? No, but they have good clearance over the wither and spine and seem to work for both my horse and me.

I have owned my horse for 12 years, and he is very good at telling me when he is uncomfortable. Last year he had an alignment issue in his wither that we did correct with a chiropractor visit, but he was very clear that riding was uncomfortable for him, biting at my foot and not wanting to move. After his adjustment that all resolved. I know my horse and when something is not right with him. His rides lately have been good, well behaved, and wanting to go, he would trot the whole time if I let him. The saddle fit lady told me that I need to sell my saddles and get different ones, which at this time is not a financial possibility. I would try to get a different saddle if there was any indication that my current saddles were causing him discomfort. This has caused me great stress and headache over the past 24 hours researching and worrying. Am I wrong? Iím just confused with the conflicting information and would appreciate any suggestions you could give me.
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post #2 of 12 Old 05-23-2019, 03:15 PM
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I completely disagree with everyone should ride in a 15" seat due to skirt length. There are saddles that even in a 15" seat they have a longer skirt because that's just how the saddle is manufactured. My question on the saddle that you currently ride with is.. Do you see good sweat patterns from riding and no dry spots? Does your saddle make good contact and not pinch or dig in etc in shoulders? If you have good sweat patters and have good contact.. Your saddle is fine and your horse needs an adjustment. Now.. Could poor fit cause a horse issues? Yes! But.. It doesn't mean you as a rider need to go in a 15" seat. Sounds to me like your saddle fitter wants to sell you a new saddle that they get commission off of. Get opinions from your trainer and if they feel that they can see some pinching or rubbing or anything with your saddles on.. maybe see if a pad would help. Hope this helps!!!
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post #3 of 12 Old 05-23-2019, 03:18 PM
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I would trust my trainer over the saddle fitter, especially if she did not observe your horse under saddle. You seem to know your horse very well and if your saddle was causing a problem I think you or your trainer would pick up on it! Her comment about everyone should ride in a 15 inch saddle is troubling. I am 5'6" and ride in a 16 inch saddle on my short backed Arabs with no problems. Just my opinion!
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post #4 of 12 Old 05-23-2019, 04:36 PM
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Honestly, as a larger rider myself, this sounds exactly like what I was told at a clinic... it's thinly-veiled 'you're big and shouldn't be riding' boiled down to 'your saddle won't fit/you have to buy a new one you can't afford/you have to ride a saddle that makes you uncomfortable/you're hurting your horse.' Now, saddle fit is vitally important, especially for heavier riders, but if your horse is not sore, is not showing any signs of being sore, etc. then I wouldn't worry overly about it as it seems like what you are doing is what is working for your horse. The same person that told me my saddle didn't fit and my horse was sore because I was a big rider sought out my friend as an example of how a saddle should fit and a good example of a horse capable of carrying a larger rider when my friend rode my mare in my saddle the following day... apparently he didn't realize that it was the same little bay mare wearing the same tack and that my friend weighs significantly more than I do... but he is a guy, so there's your answer.

A lot of 'saddle fitters' automatically consider a flex-tree saddle bad. If she found no soreness in your horse, I wouldn't worry about it. Ride and enjoy your horse.
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post #5 of 12 Old 05-23-2019, 05:30 PM
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First off...WELCOME to the Forum!!

Reading what you wrote...
First thought is what saddle brand and style is she pushing you to buy?
How much commission does she make for a sale?

To me, to much conflicting information from your massage therapists mouth...
So she saw the horse standing in a barn, on a aisle-way and put hands to animal and determined all these things...then said your saddle is the culprit and slammed the fact you are comfortable, balanced, fit and the horse carries your size quietly with no problem...

Can you do some research and find where she got her degree from?
What university did she go to?
Who did she practical with?
How long has she been in business and what is her clientele consist of?
Who is she affiliated with and what products is she endorsing and getting a kickback from?

When she answers or you uncover facts to all those questions and she is completely unbiased, free-lance and has a client base of hundreds of satisfied customers...maybe then I might heed more of what she speaks of..
Right now, the lady speaks with what sounds like a forked tongue.

Talk to your trainer who knows the horse, knows the rider, knows the issues of both and has experience with all combined.
Insight from the inside, {trainer}, sometimes is more valuable than that which is paid for from someone who garners work by finding "body" issues...think about that.
You pay for the trainers expertise to teach you...your trainer would not be making money if the horse is unsound, not moving correctly or you are a miserable rider..think about that too.

In some cases I think people need to take a step back in their approach to how we keep our horses...
For decades we rode, worked; truly worked our horses, and they were sound as a dollar, never took a bad step, never sore or full of issues needing special this or that...
It worked and worked well...
Today, if you don't have this, that and some other gimmick you are a neglectful, terrible owner...
Or are you just pocket light with money spent...
If you have genuine issues then address them, find the wrong and fix it...but beware of those just looking to fleece you out of your $$.
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post #6 of 12 Old 05-23-2019, 06:38 PM
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If you are big, as I am, and you ride in a saddle that is too small for your rear end, you will end up putting some of your weigh down ON to the cantle. you should never be literally pushing your body weigh DOWN on the cantle. It should wrap up around the back of your buttocks, but you should not be hard on top of it. That's exactly what happens when you ride in a saddle that is too small for your keister.

Some of these folks have just too much "book larnin'."
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post #7 of 12 Old 05-23-2019, 07:38 PM
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Massage Therapists are just like Doctors or any other professionals. Only half of them graduate in the top half of their class. All the rest are in the bottom half! Just having a degree doesn't mean you are as knowledgeable and have all the tools as everyone else. Stand back and look at all their advise and ask yourself, "Does this really sound right with the evidence I see before me?"
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post #8 of 12 Old 05-23-2019, 08:15 PM
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Maybe just use this person to massage your horse, and not for saddle fitting. Whatever that person told you, don't take that as the gospel. You are probably knowledgeable enough to know if a saddle fits your horse or not.

I am not here to promote anythingNo, that's not true, I am here to promote everything equestrian and everyone enjoying horses!
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post #9 of 12 Old 05-24-2019, 01:48 PM
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I feel your pain as I went through the same thing with my horse. My massage person/saddle fitter was a rep for a treeless saddle company so was pushing me hard on that.

I wasn't crazy about the treeless, but I still ended up buying a brand new saddle that I physically took my horse to get fitted for. She STILL said my saddle was an issue.

I have since stopped using her. I'm using the saddle I bought and my mare seems to be working good with it. No soreness or issues and she is also one of those horses that is very easy to read when something bothers her.

I'd say if you & your trainer think it's a good fit - your horse isn't sore from the saddle and works well with it; keep riding. Either find a different massage person or just don't use her to consult on saddle fit.

If you are really unsure you can get another saddle fitter to come take a look.
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post #10 of 12 Old 05-26-2019, 08:55 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the imput! You really helped ease my mind. I will continue to listen to my horse about his pain, and for get what this quack of a massage therapist told me. She didn't even help his soreness... total waste of money. Happy riding everyone!
jdomb1226 is offline  

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