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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know white spots on the horses withers/back come up due to pressure being placed on that spot because of an ill-fitting saddle. I have a nice 80's western saddle, (brand is saddlesmith or saddlemaker, something like that) very well made with a wooden tree, that I had one person say fits perfectly, and one says it fits decent but I need a thicker pad, but if I increase my horses topline it will fit better. I have a standard western fleece pad (zebra print with wear leathers off horse.com :wink: ) and thats what I am using, but he has some dry spots whenever I am finished riding. Will those dry spots eventually lead to white spots? My trainer said that dry spots are just where the saddle isnt touching him while I ride, doesnt that mean uneven pressure elsewhere? Ive only had him for about 8 months, and after his winter coat fell off, I noticed he had a white spot on his back about half a foot from his withers and a couple inches below his spine. The funny thing is, there isn't one on the other side. I am curious as to if it is just a spot he was born with and it has always been there, or if It was caused by my saddle. And if it was my saddle, do I need a more built up pad? Note: I have just started riding him back western; for the past couple months he has been at a hunter barn so I have been doing english flat with him in my devacoux. My trainer said that my devacoux fits him and that it will fit a wide range of horses, but I have had someone check it and said that the pressure was uneven and it didnt fit him at all. That wouldnt suprise me because that same saddle fits my oldenburg to a T. But even if it didnt fit him, if that white spot on his side was caused from uneven pressure, wouldnt he have one on the other side too? (which he doesnt) Confused and need help! :cry:
 

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The dry spots are most likely due to the pressure of the saddle fitting poorly in that area. Sorry, but your trainer may be wrong.

The first saddle I had did the same thing. I would remove the pad and there would be a soaking wet back except on the side of each wither - the hair would be bone dry. (I mean freaky bone dry - the hair would pull off in tufts. Not dry like he just came off the stall, dry like if you fried your own hair with a straight iron.

I didn't know better and after a while, white hairs appeared in the exact spot of the bone dry area. Researched it and found it was poor saddle fit; pressure against the muscle did not allow the muscle to "breathe" properly.

Sold that saddle. The hairs have fallen out and are not visible now.

Now - I have a new saddle. And I bought a new (clean) pad to go with it. After having a poorly fitting saddle I am a fanatic about checking fit after the ride.

When I remove the saddle, the entire back under the saddle is equally wet. I also check the underside of my saddle pad for fit. You want equal dirt patterns. Too much dirt, sweat, and oil in one area indicates saddle bridging or rocking. Too much hair being stuck to the pad can indicate pinching.

When I turn my pad upside down (100% wool felt) the dirt patter is equal with the exception of the spine. The seam along the spine is clean and for the most part, dry. No hair is stuck to it. But his back along the spine is moist.

Research has indicated that dry and clean along the spine is good - there is airflow occurring and the saddle/pad are not pushing directly on the spine. His actual skin/hair is wet along the spine so he is sweating naturally.

Dry spots along the withers or the muscling just off the spine itself are very loud bells and whistles indicating that you may have a problem. In my English saddle, the "gullet area of the withers" (where you make a cup in your pad), down the length of the spine are dry and the pad are clean. Dry like he came out of his stall but not "tufty" dry. This is okay also, because in this case, neither the saddle nor the pad are touching the horse enough to create him to sweat. There is enough airflow that he is warm but not sweaty.

I hope this helps. If you can take a photo after a good sweat of the dry patches we can let you know if it is a good dry or a bad dry.
 

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Dry spots are from too much pressure in one area, which at the wither area means a too narrow tree. Where you are describing I would think something is wrong with the saddle, it possibly may be no longer sound to ride in. You want a nice even sweat pattern.
 

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To answer your specific questions - your hunter saddle may have been bridging (or is it rocking?) - that would cause the white hairs below the spine area.

A poorly fitting saddle does not necessarily create equal pressure points. If your own seat tends to be a little off (more left weight than right weight) you could cause the problem on one side only.

In my opinion, thicker pads only make the problem worse. First, you may add enough thickness where the saddle is no longer held in position by the horse's skeleton.

My Sam was a porker and I bought a thicker pad (for his mutton withers). Went to get on the saddle and it slid to the side and down. I had padded him so the saddle floated on top of him. Unsafe and not comfortable for him.

Plus, picture shoes that are too tight. Do you wear thinner socks or thicker? You can't use a thinner pad - that would be wrong. But the thicker pad won't make a pinch less pinchy (unless you float on top of the horse).

Has your horse gained any weight recently? Sam put on 200lbs and that is when the saddle problems started. Now that he has lost almost 250 lbs, I bet the original saddle would fit nicely. lol

the only time you can fix a saddle with pads is MAYBE when it is too wide in the gullet. You can shim the pad some so the saddle sits up on the wither better. Or if you have a swayback horse, orthopedic pads can be used to help the saddle meet the back.

But you won't have much luck making a saddle too narrow fit without creating other problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all your advice! I will definitely take a picture next time of his back after my ride and post it here. And actually, when I first got him 8 months ago, he had a huge grass belly. I've reconditioned him so his grass belly is now gone. He has gained a ton of muscle in shoulders and neck and butt, I am now working on his topline (he is a high head carriage horse, does not like being on the bit LOL)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Here are two pictures of his back after I rode. They didnt really show up at first but after I hosed him down they stood out a lot. So no that is not all sweat LOL i didnt work him that hard! :)

 

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It looks to me like the saddle is too narrow from where the spots are, you say he gained muscle so the saddle may have fit before but it too narrow now. Also being high headed when ridden is actually a symptom of bad saddle fit.
 

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There is a difference from one side to the other, and in your original post you said that one side had the white hairs while the other didn't. Is the dry spot where the white spot was? If not - no correlation. If so - possible correlation.

So why is one side worse than the other? Is there an asymmetry somewhere in the saddle or is the horse that much different side to side? To find out, put the saddle on the horse with the pad you used when you took these pictures. Then figure out what part of the saddle matches where the dry spot is. Is it the bottom of the bar, the center of the bar or the top of the bar? Up that high, to be the bottom or center of the bar, it has to be really, super narrow for the horse. If it has too wide an angle, then the top of the bar will hit and the bottom not have as much pressure. The different causes will have different solutions.

The left side actually looks a bit swollen in the picture. It is hard to tell for sure of course, but it is worth checking him 5, 10, 15, and 30 minutes after you unsaddle to see if swelling develops. Dry spots are never ideal, but they may or may not be a problem, but if it swells, it is definitely a problem.
 

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.

The dry spot that high up can be an indication of too wide of a Tree in the Saddle.

The thing is many Horse have a strong side and a weak side, one side will fit perfect and the other side not so perfect.

That being said, Dry Spots are not always a cause for concern, I have a good friend who's Saddle fit 100% and his Horse was always and angel with no signs of pain, had no tender spots after a 4 hour ride, etc. and seemed to always have a dry spot in the same area.......

Does you Horse flip his head around, swish his tail around a lot, balk/hesitate when going from a walk to trot or give any unusual indications of pain or have a tender spot near the dry spot when you touch him?

If no indications and mainly no swelling or tender spots when touching him with your fingers around the dry spot area.... ignore the dry spots if it is only on one side :wink:


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