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Does my (close contact) saddle fit her?

9826 Views 35 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  unclearthur
Ok I've had this saddle for a year or so now and love it. But since my mare has lost some weight recently (we're working on getting her back to her previous weight, but it's tough to do in the winter!), I wanted to re-evaluate to make sure it's not creating any pressure points right now. I have the Pessoa Gen-X Elita and it's got the changeable gullet system, so it's nice that I can always change and then go back to what worked before if need be.

So anyway, currently I believe I have the Medium-Wide gullet in there, and I do have a smaller one (Medium) as well as a wider one (Wide) in my tack trunk that I could use instead. This video shows what the saddle currently looks like, and I just am a little paranoid about two things...

1. I can only fit 2 fingers of clearance (and I have small hands by the way) and I believe the recommended clearance is 3.

2. The panels don't seem to be evenly sitting on her back, you'll see in the video the bottoms are not touching.

So anyway, thought I would toss the video up here for all the saddle fitting gurus on the forum to see and ask your advice. My first thought is that she now needs a more narrow gullet, but what do YOU think??

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The points of the saddle reach down about a hand's width from where the padding begins. Below that it is flexible leather and padding. So you only need to be concerned about the first 4 or 5". The angle looks good but I am concerned that it's hitting her withers a little further back.One way to find out is to dust the area with talcum powder or cornstarch and see if the saddle rubs it off after you've been in the saddle about 10 min.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The points of the saddle reach down about a hand's width from where the padding begins. Below that it is flexible leather and padding. So you only need to be concerned about the first 4 or 5". The angle looks good but I am concerned that it's hitting her withers a little further back.One way to find out is to dust the area with talcum powder or cornstarch and see if the saddle rubs it off after you've been in the saddle about 10 min.
Thanks for the feedback! I do always notice hair rubbed off on both sides under the saddle panels...but it's typically BEHIND the saddle, where the pad slides back and forth I guess? That's been an issue for years, no matter WHAT saddle I have used, so maybe it's just the way she moves or something (here's my old thread on that: http://www.horseforum.com/horse-tack-equipment/saddle-pad-rubbing-hair-off-horses-110929/). It's more noticeable in the wintertime because of her fuzzy coat (even though she's been body clipped once already this year and grew most of it back uggghhhh :lol:)
 

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I completely agree with Saddlebag; it looks too close down onthe wither and could be rubbing . you have barely 1.5 fingers clearance wiht no rider in the saddle. weighted, it will be right down on the wither, I think.

If the gullet plates can narrow it without pinching at the top, it mightwork. I mean, narrow it without changing the angles of the bars. The angle is currently pretty good, IMO.
 

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Close-contacts are such rubbish fits. Sorry, but they are.

PLEASE don't look at a narrower saddle - you definitely do NOT need a narrower gullet, despite what others here say. They're looking at the saddle instead of the horse.

I suspect you have that most common of problems, your horse falling in a little behind the shoulder. And with foam panel CCs being non-adjustable, flocking-wise, your best option with this saddle would be either to use
(i) A wither pad, probably between saddle and saddlecloth would work best. Provided it's correctly fitted so it sits over the hollow, not pulled forward so part of it sits over the back of the shoulderblade, it should provide enough 'lift' to support the correct tree width and give you some wither clearance. There's no correct dimension for that, by the way, just so long as you have 'some' clearance right the way along the spine.
(ii) A graduated pad or 'riser', thicker in front than rear. Again, this needs to be fitted so it sits behind the shoulder rather than pulled forward so the front of the saddleflap rests on it.

In all of this I've assumed your saddle gullet width is correct, ie. wide enough. It's difficult to see a shoulder angle in your video because it doesn't stay in one place for long enough. If you can I'd suggest you take a wither tracing and compare it with the front arch shape, bearing in mind for horses that hollow behind the shoulder you must look at the angles based on a straight line drawn between the downward curve at the top of the wither and external curve of the shoulder, rather than the angles in the hollows themselves. You're lucky with your saddle you can take the gullet out to compare angles.

Best of luck :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Anyone have any other opinions? Just trying to gather as many points of view as possible :) tonight I will be trying a slightly more narrow gullet to see how that looks and I will post a video of that one to compare to the above :)
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Alright here's the comparison video, this is the Medium gullet. Definitely more wither clearance. (And don't mind my sticking the nearest object, a crop, under the saddle...was trying to create a frame of reference) :lol:

Saddle fit (medium gullet) - YouTube
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Sorry but looking at your horse's shoulders that medium gullet appears too narrow. Wither clearance is only one fitting issue. And despite what Bates say their measurement gauge will often fit horses which fall in behind the shoulder with too narrow a gullet.

To check, girth up your saddle tight enough to mount, stand on the nearside and put your hand in the gullet under the pommel. Then slide the flat of your hand down the horse's shoulder under the front of the panel. You should feel firm pressure all the way down, but I suspect you will feel an increase as you reach the tree point and your hand may even be stopped. If so, the saddle's too tight.

Repeat on the off side - with big-shouldered horses one's usually tighter than the other unless the saddle's been flocked to compensate.
 

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It looks the right width, but it is too low on the withers. I also do not like the curve of the panels at teh back which could allow the saddle to rock slightly. I would pad up as suggested.
 

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I have to agree with unclearthur. Even though the wither clearance is better with the narrower gullet, it looks like it's just too narrow for Sandy. I would go back to the wider gullet and pad it up a bit until she gains weight and the saddle fits properly again.
 

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I also would suggest a pad, not a different gullet size.
The problem is that the saddle tree is the wrong shape for the horse. I imagine her wither meets quite abruptly with her back, instead of a long slope.
Look into Ogilvy, I think their pads are great. Other than that, its a new saddle.

Good luck!
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks you guys!! I also have Sandie's masseuse looking into it for me as well, she's great with saddle fit and was actually the one who told me this saddle fit very well...back before Sandie lost the weight. She had much more wither clearance then! Now that the weight is off, it's somehow lower ugh grrrr...

Anyway, alright pad ideas. Now, the last time I used a pad, it was a half pad, Fleeceworks, and all it did was rub all the hair off underneath the saddle panels...it looked like this:



So knowing that, can anyone give me an idea of what I should be looking for? Anabel I will check out the brand you mentioned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I also would suggest a pad, not a different gullet size.
The problem is that the saddle tree is the wrong shape for the horse. I imagine her wither meets quite abruptly with her back, instead of a long slope.
Look into Ogilvy, I think their pads are great. Other than that, its a new saddle.

Good luck!
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Oh and here is a photo of Sandie without the saddle, taken this summer (when she had already started to drop the weight). She's not SKINNY by any means, and I don't mean for her to get MUCH fatter, she is very athletic. But she has lost some of her topline and that previously big round muscly QH butt too!

Summer 2012:


Winter 2012:
 

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I have the same problem with sheepskin on my horse, except when his skin gets irritated I get to deal with fun fungal infections. As well I find sheepskin to be really bouncy. So I avoid it!!
Ogilvy is memory foam (and cusomizable) but if you really want a pad with lots of shimming, EcoGold does a great memory foam pad with "filler pads". I use the EcoGold Secure pad, because it has just a little wee bit of memory foam, not enough to change my saddle's fit, but enough that my back (and his!) are cushioned.

You can see her wither has a steep slope into a flat back, that's what I'm thinking the tree is not conforming to, that it's made for a horse with a smoother wither slope and a curvy back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks Anebel! And yes I LOVE Ecogold pads!! I own 2 of them actually :) Both are the no-slip pads, the XC and the Hunter/Jumper. Her hair STILL manages to rub off a little though, no clue what THAT is about...

SO saddle-wise, any recommendations on the type of saddle I should be looking for to fit my mare, if this Pessoa isn't one of them?? I think I'll try padding her up first though, I JUST bought this saddle last year and actually Sandie is going better in it with less soreness through her back versus the old Collegiate Convertible "Event" (read: AP!) saddle I used to ride her in.
 

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You'd have to talk to a saddle fitter, but I've been looking at Ideal and Barnsby (and drooling, while having no money haha).
 
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