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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My new RMH has a short, swayback with relatively high withers. She is also a bit wide. The saddle she had been ridden in left saddle sores on her back. I tried several saddles on her but none fit. I just received a Bob Marshall saddle that I really liked. If fits her everywhere except there is no clearance for her withers. The saddle touches them. I am not sure what to do at this point and how to find a saddle that fits her and one that I like ( western like without saddle horn and lightweight) I am worried I am just going to keep getting stuck with saddles that don't fit.
 

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First & foremost, if she is swaybacked(genetic/prenatal you reckon, or due to injury?) and has had a badly fitting saddle soring her back until recently, I wouldn't go putting ANY saddle on her, for a while at least, until her bruises & atrophy have a chance to heal & you've had her on a good exercise plan, to have her back as strong & healthy as possible. THEN you start saddle shopping. I'd imagine, for a sway backed horse, an english style saddle would be much more suitable than a western. And you might also consider a good treeless saddle too.
 

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So, for me...
I would invest in a very good quality swayback pad that can come with shims so adjustments can be made as her back changes.
If the horse is not physically injured or suffering pain from being swayed...
Once she is padded correctly much of your issue of fitting will now be contained as the biggest issue you have to me is protecting her back from additional stresses being a sway makes.

If your saddle is sitting down on her wither, often that is because the saddle is to wide for the anatomy.
If the saddle pops up in the rear it is often also to wide allowing the front to sit to deep and low.
A saddle perched above is often to narrow...

It is just like the fairy-tale fable about the bears, porridge and beds and finding the right one.
People can get crazy about angle of the bar and width and the rock and yada, yada, yada....
But to me, if you not first address your horses swayback you will not have a stable area to set the saddle on to now work on a fit...
Start by making the dropped spine more level and stable a location that placing a saddle, the saddle holding weight of rider and the horse moving under saddle comfortably...that takes a special type of pad or knowing how to add the additional pads by hand and where to give comfort to the spinal structures...

So... find a swayback pad first, a good one that fits & works is my suggestion..
🐴...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
First & foremost, if she is swaybacked(genetic/prenatal you reckon, or due to injury?) and has had a badly fitting saddle soring her back until recently, I wouldn't go putting ANY saddle on her, for a while at least, until her bruises & atrophy have a chance to heal & you've had her on a good exercise plan, to have her back as strong & healthy as possible. THEN you start saddle shopping. I'd imagine, for a sway backed horse, an english style saddle would be much more suitable than a western. And you might also consider a good treeless saddle too.
Thank you for the advice. The saddle I just bought is treeless. It is perfect in every way but the withers which it touches. I will try to post a photo of her. Perhaps swayback was too strong a word. She is rump high and there is a dip between her withers and back but not a really bad one. Her saddle sores healed weeks ago but I have only ridden her twice. The thing I am concerned about is getting a pad before I have the saddle. Everyone told me get the saddle first to make sure it works with the pad. Is there an english saddle that feels safe for trail rides? I am just getting back into riding after many years off so I hoped to find a saddle that is secure. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So, for me...
I would invest in a very good quality swayback pad that can come with shims so adjustments can be made as her back changes.
If the horse is not physically injured or suffering pain from being swayed...
Once she is padded correctly much of your issue of fitting will now be contained as the biggest issue you have to me is protecting her back from additional stresses being a sway makes.

If your saddle is sitting down on her wither, often that is because the saddle is to wide for the anatomy.
If the saddle pops up in the rear it is often also to wide allowing the front to sit to deep and low.
A saddle perched above is often to narrow...

It is just like the fairy-tale fable about the bears, porridge and beds and finding the right one.
People can get crazy about angle of the bar and width and the rock and yada, yada, yada....
But to me, if you not first address your horses swayback you will not have a stable area to set the saddle on to now work on a fit...
Start by making the dropped spine more level and stable a location that placing a saddle, the saddle holding weight of rider and the horse moving under saddle comfortably...that takes a special type of pad or knowing how to add the additional pads by hand and where to give comfort to the spinal structures...

So... find a swayback pad first, a good one that fits & works is my suggestion..
🐴...
Thank you for your comments. So I should get the pad before the saddle? I was told to get the saddle first to make sure the pad fit the saddle. But what you are saying makes sense. I have had both experiences: saddle perched too high and now this one. I tried 6 saddles on her at a tack shop with help. A full quarter western was still too tight on her withers. My friends plantation saddle dug into her back. Is a treeless saddle supposed to tough the withers if it is put on without a pad? I really don't think this is fitting her right. I think I overcompensated because every saddle I tried on was too long a did not sit flush to her rear ( raised up as you said) Even a 30 inch saddle pad was too long. Her back shape is conformational. Perhaps I should have said rump-high. Her back does dip between the withers and rump. It is not horrible but it is also a very short back. So I should buy the pad and then find a saddle? Am I able to post photos here so you could see her conformation and then with the saddle on?
 

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Treeless saddles generally require special pads even for normal-backed horses to create spinal clearance. A horse with a back like you describe is going to call for some creative padding.

I use a skito pad with inserts under the Bob Marshall I ride in. I would think you are going to need an additional half pad with shims of some sort to try to keep the front from collapsing down.

Posting pictures would be very helpful. You can just drag and drop your pics into the reply box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for the advice. The saddle I just bought is treeless. It is perfect in every way but the withers which it touches. I will try to post a photo of her. Perhaps swayback was too strong a word. She is rump high and there is a dip between her withers and back but not a really bad one. Her saddle sores healed weeks ago but I have only ridden her twice. The thing I am concerned about is getting a pad before I have the saddle. Everyone told me get the saddle first to make sure it works with the pad. Is there an english saddle that feels safe for trail rides? I am just getting back into riding after many years off so I hoped to find a saddle that is secure. Thank you.
Yes, I do believe the saddle she was ridden in before was ill-fitting. She had two small round white sores on opposite sides of her back where the end of the saddle would hit. They were not red but white and open. They healed up right away after I got her. The lady who had her was putting medication on them but did not put it together that is was probably the saddle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Treeless saddles generally require special pads even for normal-backed horses to create spinal clearance. A horse with a back like you describe is going to call for some creative padding.

I use a skito pad with inserts under the Bob Marshall I ride in. I would think you are going to need an additional half pad with shims of some sort to try to keep the front from collapsing down.

Posting pictures would be very helpful. You can just drag and drop your pics into the reply box.
Thanks so much!!! I was going to get a Skito pad for it but wanted to make sure it fit her in case I have to sell the saddle. I just got the saddle last week. My friend has a Bob Marshall and loves it. We tried it on my horse and it seemed to fit so well on her short back. The thing is I made the mistake of not checking the withers. I was so happy to finally find a saddle that fit her short, banana back The gullet does seem to touch the withers but I will post photos. Your help is very much appreciated.
 

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Thank you for your comments. So I should get the pad before the saddle?
I think it depends how exactly & why she is away backed as to how you handle it, so I'd personally want hands on advice from a good body worker who knows about saddle fit. I can see HLG's point, and padding up her back to make it level, so a more 'normal' saddle seems to fit might be appropriate, but it might be a bad move, esp as it could prevent her back from raising/getting stronger, assuming that's possible. This is one reason I suggested getting her fit & strong as possible before fitting her for a saddle.

So saying, not personally familiar with that type of treeless, but a good treeless with adequate panels 'shouldn't' put undue pressure in any one area anyway. *Tho beware, many don't distribute pressure well & end up with major 'pressure points' at the girth & stirrup areas. Generally it's advisable to keep the girth looser & refrain from putting much weight in stirrups on a treeless, for that reason.

My friends plantation saddle dug into her back. Is a treeless saddle supposed to tough the withers if it is put on without a pad? I really don't think this is fitting her right. I think I overcompensated because every saddle I tried on was too long a did not sit flush to her rear ( raised up as you said) Even a 30 inch saddle pad was too long.
I dare say any Western type is likely to be too long for her. No, treeless need to have good wither clearance, just like any saddle. Most treeless I've seen have a rather rigid pommel section, to ensure wither clearance & most like that you can change the pommel, to fit different sizes. IF the saddle fits, it shouldn't matter whether the pad is too long generally. But I suppose that also depends on how severe the sway - why I'd be getting a pro bodyworker to come check her out & advise on saddle fit.

Her back shape is conformational. ... Am I able to post photos here so you could see her conformation and then with the saddle on?
I guess you mean by 'conformational' that her back has always been that way since birth & it's not due to injury or such. Yes you are & pics would probably help.

So I should buy the pad and then find a saddle?
No, IMO you should find a saddle that fits her well(or close to it) first, then you can use a pad with good spinal clearance & 'shims' to 'fine tune' the fit. Regardless of whether a horse is sway backed or something else, you should never use padding to make a bad saddle fit, or try to change the shape with padding so you can get away with a 'normal' saddle. **But as said, I'd be consulting a bodyworker & getting her fit first & foremost, before buying anything(else).

Is there an english saddle that feels safe for trail rides?
Hehe! Even English people trail ride ;-) Yes, as far as English types go, I personally prefer a Dressage saddle, for best balance & security, over an All Purpose. Tho I don't do dressage & I mostly ride in the bush, over logs, creeks, steep hills, etc, etc. But if you're only used to the feel of a Western, yeah, they might still feel a little insecure until you get used to them. Another possible alternative is an Aussie Stock - built on an English style frame, but with the thigh rolls(poleys) & a deeper seat.
 

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a good treeless with adequate panels 'shouldn't' put undue pressure in any one area anyway. *Tho beware, many don't distribute pressure well & end up with major 'pressure points' at the girth & stirrup areas. Generally it's advisable to keep the girth looser & refrain from putting much weight in stirrups on a treeless, for that reason.
I have never heard anybody advise to not put much weight in stirrups on a treeless saddle - I cannot imagine covering the miles I have in a treeless saddle without using the stirrups in a totally normal fashion! And while I normally ride with what many would consider a loose girth, I do not adjust it any different for my treed saddles than I do the treeless. I think treeless saddle technology has come a long way in recent years, so some of the issues seen in the past have been addressed in the quality brands.


@Pumphrey : I have ridden a lot of miles in Arabian Saddle Company Rubicon saddles, which are dressage-based. Personally, i find them a lot more comfortable for me than a treeless saddle as the support of a twist makes a big difference to my hips.
 

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^Yeah, sorry if I wasn't clear - agree that Good more modern treeless saddles are great, shouldn't be needed done up or ridden in any differently to a regular saddle. But IME many of them are little different to bareback pads, and need to be used similarly.
 
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