Experiment: Using a Mold of Your Horse for Saddle Fitting - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 12-13-2018, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2018
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Lightbulb Experiment: Using a Mold of Your Horse for Saddle Fitting

Yes, I know.
It sounds like way too much.
I've gone back and forth to the saddle shop 5 times already WITH cardboard tracings and photos. The saddles are close, but don't work in minute ways+angles on my horse. I'm stressed that I'll make a bad purchase or be stuck traveling eternally And at this point I'm stubbornly dedicated to finding a way to "bring my horse" to the saddle shop. (Plus a lot of free time on my hands to brainstorm)

This thread is to talk about the method I'm proposing, updates, and comments on ways to improve it.

At first, I planned on using paper mache on a garbage bag laid over his back, with a hay bag to entertain him.

Now, I've turned to thermoplastics, used to mold props or costume pieces. The sheets are warmed with a heatgun or warm water and then keep their form after 1-3 minutes of room temp. I'll be using wonderflex, a low temp thermoplastic, safe to be held and formed by hands.

Here's my plan.

1. Chalk out the scapula and last weight bearing vertebrae on your horse

2. Cut the sheet a little longer than the space between the chalk marks, and then 18 inches wide, to have an ample angle record of your horse's width. You should have a pretty large rectangle.

3. Use a sharpie to draw a line down the center of the sheet, parallel to the LONG sides. This line will be the horse's spine/centerline! Then draw a line parallel to the shorter side of the sheet, near one of the edges. This will be the line of the horse's scapulae (to record the angle for the bars!)

4. Under no circumstance do I want to harm my horse or frighten him. I'll sponge/spray his back with water to help keep his back from warming too quickly, and I'll make sure to test it with my own hands before letting it touch him. I've used thermoplastic before and although I have not experienced sticking, better safe than sorry, water will help keep his furry back a little slick! (Maybe I'll add some oil or human conditioner to keep him extra slippery)

5. Warm up the plastic with a heat gun or water. Attempt to bend the edges to see if it's soft enough to form!

6. Place over your horse's back, lining up the "spine" line and "scapula" line. Once applied and formed accurately, sponge or spray the plastic to cool it even faster and remove!
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post #2 of 26 Old 12-13-2018, 11:12 PM
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That sounds... interesting.... If you do do that, I look forward to reading about it.

Actually, bringing your horse to the saddle shop isn't a bad idea....


Welcome to the world of saddle fitting.
Of all the things I enjoy about horses, saddle fitting it really not one of them, as you can see why.... A combination of tediousness and shelling out $$$$; but, it is a necessary evil as one may say.... However, I do like getting "new" (to me) horse things, so... you know... there's that....

May I remind you that no saddle with fit perfectly, even if you get one custom made? Things such as weight and muscling will affect saddle fit, and these things change all the time. Although, yes, you want to get the best fit possible, and despite your best efforts, you are going to have to settle somewhere.

Depending on the degree of mis-fit, sometimes you may be able to fudge it with a "special" (material, thickness, etc...) pad/blanket or with the use of shims.
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Last edited by α CMa; 12-13-2018 at 11:29 PM.
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post #3 of 26 Old 12-13-2018, 11:36 PM
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If possible, a saddle fitter may be of help....
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post #4 of 26 Old 12-13-2018, 11:52 PM
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If it's possible to get a saddle fitter out to you that would probably best they best solution, or if its possible to trailer your horse to the saddle shop then you could try them on your horse out there and the saddle shop can have a look too at what they are dealing with.
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post #5 of 26 Old 12-14-2018, 12:10 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah I've thought about getting a saddle fitter out but I live in a pretty posh horse owner neighborhood and the ones nearby cost BIG bucks to fit your horse in fancy literal $5000 dollar english saddles :( def not in my budget and not really interested in english saddles... Though I think driving the horse over would be tough right now since I don't know anyone who has a trailer, even at the stable I board at.

Thank you though, I'll keep in mind to be a little more open to smaller misfits! I feel like he's pretty wide, probably around FQH bars, but the only one I found to fit him pretty nicely (a Wintec Wide W2) had an 18.5 seat... and I use a 15.5 seat. I'm a pretty nervous rider, so having such a, well, "loose" seat made me feel insecure. The trot felt so slippery and unstable :(
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post #6 of 26 Old 12-14-2018, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Honestly, I think it turned out really well, better than I expected! It's a lil "soft". But it got his shape really well and keeps it, even if it has a little give.

Only complaints I have is:
1. I used a heatgun which took FOREVER. I didn't have hot water on hand. Wish I did :( I could have softened the entire thing all at once instead of in parts

2. I added the slit cuts because it felt stiff while molding to him, but it was actually because I hadn't warmed that area enough! Definitely shouldn't have made the slits, they just made it more bendy at the center.

Horsie was very very chill about it, I did moisten and oil his back slightly and it helped a ton with the tackiness! Stuck more to my hands than to him.
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post #7 of 26 Old 12-14-2018, 05:01 AM
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There is more to fitting the saddle than the static fitting. You can make a saddle fit while he is standing, but it doesnít mean it will fit when he starts to work and use his back. That is the tricky part.
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post #8 of 26 Old 12-14-2018, 06:25 AM
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Saddles are like shoes. There are more or less standard sizes and variation in brands. We certainly don't all wear custom shoes. We each have our own "best fit" brand and style we go to and then wear molds them to make them our own. Like Dehada said a perfect static fit doesn't always translate to a perfect fit in motion. They will also change physically over time more so than our feet and those changes aren't static like our feet tend to be once we have finished growing. Their backs are covered with muscle and fat that can and do change - sometimes even seasonally on some horses. That means more attention to detail but don't get so hung up on saddle fit that you price yourself out of saddles that will do the job very well for you both.

I do like the model. It gives you a decent base to start with that is more portable than the horse.
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post #9 of 26 Old 12-14-2018, 06:59 AM
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This is really great! I applaud your efforts and results. I have forgotten the name of the company, but there is a custom saddle company that will send a sheet of thermo forming plastic to form the horse's back for them to build a custom saddle from rather than a few measurements.

IMO, if you achieve a good static saddle fit, your saddle will likely fit better than 99.99% of the saddle out there.

I have used the thermoplastic Kydex for forming custom panel inserts for a treeless saddle and for a modified Trooper saddle with good results.

I will be ordering the sample kit of Wonderflex to play with. I was unaware of it. Thanks for posting. I have some projects in mind for it.

Is the result stiff enough to take to the saddle shop or will something need to be added for stiffness. I'm wondering if there was some way to heat the entire sheet at once if some of the wrinkles could be avoided even though the wrinkles should not interfere with saddle selection.

The Mustang has no place in modern society. The Mustang belongs on the range or in a supportive forever home.
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post #10 of 26 Old 12-14-2018, 07:42 AM
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Equimeasure has a kit. It is pretty expensive though Hondo. They are still flexible. I've only ever worked with it for art projects and there had to be something sturdy under it that was more conforming if you wanted it to hold shape with weight on it. Perhaps a rolled or folded towel over a saddle stand that has a roll top instead of just three points to lay the saddle over.
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hard to fit , saddle fitting , saddle shopping

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