The Horse Forum banner

Which saddle should I choose?

  • Current saddle, professionally fitted but disliked by horse

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • New saddle, mediocre/borderline poor fit but horse seems to love

    Votes: 0 0.0%
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone! First time poster here with questions about fitting a dressage saddle.

First question - when I put a saddle I'm looking at on him with a girth or when I first sit in it, there's easy 3 fingers wither clearance and lots of gullet room. But after I ride for a while it's all but sitting on his spine - barely 1 finger clearance. Is this a tree width or flocking issue? Would a half pad help until I can get it fixed?

Second question - I currently have a dressage saddle that was fitted to him by a trustworthy brand rep who had no reason to lie about how it fit, but the horse doesn't seem to like it at all. No direct pain signals but a little attitude and tightness under saddle compared to my jump saddle. I'm looking at the one mentioned above as an alternative, and while it doesn't seem to fit as well, he moves a lot better in it and working over his back much better. Which saddle would you pick? The one he likes, or the one that fits?

Thanks all!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,523 Posts
I had an issue similar to your second question. Pony had a saddle sold to me and fitted by the most reputable saddle fitter in town. He didn't like it too much, but I was a new owner and didn't know any better; she said it fit so I assumed it did. At some point I realized that he just didn't like it and switched to another one -- I couldn't believe how much nicer he moved in it! And it wasn't too long after that that I found his mane at the withers growing out white -- a sign of a pressure point from the saddle. So, to answer your question, I'd go with the one he likes, not the one that "fits."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,453 Posts
The thing about spinal clearance is that what matters is that it is there, not how much of it there is.

Meaning, if the saddle remains clear of the spine even after riding for a while, that is fine. That saddle may have a very good fit, sitting low around the horse and with the rider in closer contact.

What you definitely would not want to do is put a thicker pad or half pad in that gap and distribute the pressure onto the spine. If there is less clearance you use a thinner pad to maintain the clearance, not a thicker one.

Ideally you can push the pad up into the channel to ensure the pad is not being tightened down over the spine. If there is low clearance, this requires a thin pad.

Edit: But also, if the tree is too wide, putting a thin pad may cause you to lose the wither clearance. In that case, you want a pad that is almost the opposite of a half pad. Less padding over the spine but thicker along the panel area to keep the saddle off the spine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the great reply! How do you think an Ogilvy would work? It's got thick foam panels and just fabric over the spine. It compresses pretty small, I've not had pinching issues with it before but I don't know if it would work here.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,453 Posts
I would say the ogilvy would probably work, as long as the thinner fabric part is wide enough to keep the padding from filling the channel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49,434 Posts
I would like to suggest that it has less to do with saddle fit than how YOU ride in each saddle. In the jump saddle, perhaps you are spending more time with your seatbones OFF the saddle, and perhaps your heels are higher up on his barrel. In the dressage saddle, you may have a longer, but more gripping lower leg, or just carry your weight differently. Either way, pick the saddle under which your horse is happier.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I would like to suggest that it has less to do with saddle fit than how YOU ride in each saddle. In the jump saddle, perhaps you are spending more time with your seatbones OFF the saddle, and perhaps your heels are higher up on his barrel. In the dressage saddle, you may have a longer, but more gripping lower leg, or just carry your weight differently. Either way, pick the saddle under which your horse is happier.
I would tend to agree, I am a newer dressage rider with many years of jumpers. It's been a challenge for me to learn to drape my leg and sit on my butt.

I wonder if this saddle puts me or my leg in a better position and that's what I'm feeling. Either way I guess it's a win.

Another thing I just learned is this saddle is in better condition and a nicer model than my own, so if later down the road it ends up not working I'll be in a better spot to find a replacement. I'll try riding in a regular pad and the ogilvy tomorrow to compare and if it goes well I think I'll take a chance!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,394 Posts
One reason for a saddle to behave like this is a broken or weak front arch. There are loads of others,(including very soft flock, leaking Cair airbags, sore seatbones and an unlevel horse, to mention a few of the odder things) but it'd be handy to know what saddle it is and what sort of shaped horse it's fitted on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
One reason for a saddle to behave like this is a broken or weak front arch. There are loads of others,(including very soft flock, leaking Cair airbags, sore seatbones and an unlevel horse, to mention a few of the odder things) but it'd be handy to know what saddle it is and what sort of shaped horse it's fitted on.
It's a medium wide Custom Icon flight on a warmblood. He's got a pretty stereotypical WB back - high withers especially and some muscle atrophy behind the shoulders from recent EPM.
1105179
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,394 Posts
That looks like the right width to me, and the hollows are probably natural conformation. When you say the saddle was fitted, was it flocked to the horse or just width/length fitted on a pad? The reason I ask is the panel's not particularly broad at the front, and I'd have thought it'd need adjusting to fit to begin with. Going from Custom's website pics I'd want to broaden the channel a bit, as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That looks like the right width to me, and the hollows are probably natural conformation. When you say the saddle was fitted, was it flocked to the horse or just width/length fitted on a pad? The reason I ask is the panel's not particularly broad at the front, and I'd have thought it'd need adjusting to fit to begin with. Going from Custom's website pics I'd want to broaden the channel a bit, as well.
So there's 2 saddles. One is my personal Custom Revolution, which was flocked to my horse but he doesn't seem to like.

I'm debating switching it out for the Icon Flight, which hasn't been fitted to him and won't be for several months but he seems to like.

The width is still confusing me. Everything I see says if there's enough clearance with a girth on it'll fit, but today it was definitely sitting directly on his back - I think there's just not enough flocking tbh. It all feels even, no bunching, but I think more volume would help and in the meantime the half pad will help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,394 Posts
One problem with so-called 'close contact' saddles is the frame still has to clear the horse. From his back shape and the tree shape I think you're likely right - there's not enough flock in it generally, particularly mid-panel I suspect, and the saddle sits too close along the spine and maybe right through the contact area given his back shape. It might look alright, even feel fine with no-one in the saddle, but once the pressure goes on with a deep tree shape and a new panel (they're always too soft, nowadays) the panel can spread and the whole thing sits down more than you expect.
I have a similar problem with my Westphalian, added to the fact he's very high withered and there's not enough rear gusset depth in his current saddle to get a good level, though it fits fine at the front. I use a Korrector saddle pad to get it to level, so I'd stick with a half pad for now as you say, on top of a saddlecloth, if that's what you tend to use, to spread any possible edge pressure from the pad.
Best of luck!
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top