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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good morning...the title is a little deceptive..her eis the problem. I have a new horse who is underweight (vet says about 50-100 pounds) and is lacking muscle. As such, the area to the sides of the withers are sunken rather than rounded like one would see in a well weighted and muscled horse.

When placed on the bare back and without weight or pressure, my saddle fits fine..no pressure at all on the withers. When adding pressure, however, it sinks enough, owing to that lack of muscle to the sides of the withers, to allow it to touch and rub.

I have tried three pads, two pads with pillow wraps (one once, two once) draped over the wither area in between the two pads, a half back wither relief under the pad once, over the pad at another try, without luck. The horse rolled in the paddock and created his own open wither rub but my saddle and pads are keeping it from healing...I can see a little blood on the bottom of the pad. Even if he hadn't created the open wound himself, eventually, going on the slight bleeding under the pad, it would have been a rub anyway. I am treating the wound itself with Neosporin but the constant rubbing isn't allowing it to actually heal over.

I have several calls into a saddle fitter but haven't as yet heard back; am thinking she is possibly in Ocala as several people who have used her indicate she does go down. Not sure that saddle fit is the issue here but more of trying to figure out how to "shim" those sunken areas to either side of the wither until the horse gains weight and muscle.

Any ideas on what to use or what else to try?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Stop riding is logical yes but I am trying to avoid that if at all possible. If I can figure out a way to get the saddle to fit properly, I would prefer to keep up the training as we are going.
 

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I would try not riding even though its something you don't want to do. Let the rubs heal and leave the saddle off until you hear from the saddle fitter. You can lunge and continue working him/her but i wouldn't want to create any permanent damage because of the saddle. I would also check to see if there are any loose screws underneath your saddle that are creating the rubs and bleeding. This happened to me with my horse, he was sound on the ground with the saddle but once i sat in the saddle and put pressure on his back he went lame. He ended up falling while i was riding him because of the pain and after having the saddle fitter come out and tighten one screw we haven't had a problem since.
 

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Why would you prefer to keep working an underweight horse in a saddle that does not presently fit? You can say all you want about how it fits properly on the horse's bare back with no weight in the saddle, but if it rubs when a rider's weight is introduced, it simply does not fit. It may well fit when the horse's weight is back where it should be, but it does not now.

If your vet finds it appropriate for the horse to be in work at this weight and present level of health, then I would suggest you find a way to work the horse on the ground.
 

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A saddlefitter will tell you, forget trying to compensate with pads, you need a proper fitting saddle, the pad is just there to keep your saddle clean. Either get a saddle that fit that horse, meaning it clears his withers or get an interchangable gullet saddle and measure the horse every few months as he gains weight/muscle. Sorry it's the only solution I see.
 
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A saddle will almost never rub if it fits the horse, so obviously the saddle doesn't fit. I would wait until the horse is a little more filled out, or at least until his rubs have healed, then have a saddle fitter come out and fit a saddle to your horse..
 

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I would definitely not ride with the saddle if the withers is sore and has a "cut". Especially if the saddle is not fitting. Even though you want to keep your horse in training, it will just make things worse by causing your horse pain which can then cause behavior problems. Maybe you could ride with a bareback pad or just bareback if you want to ride. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I think I got it yesterday when I added a breastplate to the mix. I put the wither relief pad directly on his back with another pad over top. I rode for about 15 mins and checked and there was no sign that the rub had re-rerubbed. It could be that the saddle was sliding just enough to cause an excess of the pressure and re-opening the rub. Now, on a sight issue here, this isn't a "cut" just sort of like a rug burn type rub about 1/4 inch long. Still, I have groundwork plans over the next few days in any case since the weather is improving slightly and I can take advantage of some lunge time up and down some hilly paddocks to help with the muscle build up.

Just for the heck of it I put the narrower gullet onto the saddle...definitely too narrow there.

I did do a standard soreness check on his back yesterday and the area around the rub, pressing on all sides, and he wasn't flinchy at all; his movement is constant without any hitches that might indicate discomfort. Still, saddle fitter is scheduled just in case.

Appreciate the help :)
 

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When you have to pad to that extend you are just shifting the pressure spots. If the horse has high withers don't expect him to fill up those holes, as high withered horses are often hollow. Adjustable gullets change only the shape at the gullet but no where else. If you wish to ride I'm suggesting you just go with a bareback pad until he puts on a little weight. The exercise along with your weight will help him muscle up especially if you keep it to walking and trotting. Trotting builds stamina.
 

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Even if the saddle fits perfectly, you will have a hard time getting the withers to heal if there is a pad touching them. The friction of the pad against the skin will keep the wound open. If you want to do whats right for the horse then don't ride her until the withers are completly healed. If you keep on riding her you'll probably wear a hole through the skin into her whithers. They are nasty to heal up and can take several months. I've seen this happen and you should go to any lenghts needed to prevent it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Haven't ridden in three days and the rub is healing up n icely with the applicaiton of Neosporin..that stuff works so much faster than any equine version :). I have one more day and then I have to ride as the saddle fitter is coming out on Friday, but, I am making the assumption she will have a remedy before I get on.

Two pics here. The first was taken on the day I brought him "home." The second was taken tonight, 10 days later. The second shot is a little more yellow..different barn lighting and a hair blurred but I think you can get the idea.
 

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Good luck fitting that horse. I like those type of horses but they are so hard to keep from soring that I don't ride them anymore.
 

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with some weight and muscle that horse won't be that hard to fit. i still, however, recommend a saddle with a cutback wither just to make sure there is clearance for those withers. not as bad as my geldings but still something of substance for sure.

let us know what the saddle fitter says.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Saddle fitter came out..whew..what a night. Let's see...first, I was placing the saddle too far forward. The saddle fitters exact words were, he has long withers..she showed me how to properly locate the saddle. It is going to take some mental re-imaging to continue to place the saddle as far back but she showed me the process. Second, the medium gullet is too wide..she said that even if he fills out by adding weight and muscle, it won't change the points of how the saddle fits. Of course, I remembered to bring everyhting with me EXCEPT the gullets so I have to try the smaller ones myself, but, she is willing to come back out at no charge to re-check the fit. Third, she suggested a Mattes Correction half pad to help with lift and the fit under the cantle. In short, currently when weight is added to the saddle the back part lifts up a little. She indicated that the correction half pad (or even correction full pad also that I located) has pockets that can be shimmed. Fourth, due to the position of the saddle she suggested a contoured girth in order to keep the saddle from coming forward :). This isn't a simple contoured girth but one that reminds me of the girth used on jumpers that helped to keep their hooves from smacking into the belly during a jump. The saddle itself is pretty much flocked under the cantle to the point it can't be added to anymore though she says there IS room in the panels. Once I check the different gullet I may get lucky and only need the extra flocking in the panels themselves. The horse isn't even on both sides with one side being more hollow than the other...:) gotta love 'em.

This saddle fitter is MSA certified so knows what she is doing. I may not have explained it quite the way she did but I know what I am looking at now.

I will make a run to the tack shop tomorrow..Dover is nearby, and do some more retail therapy..the have the mattes pads and similar girths in stock (less pricey but same shape). Failing that, the other way to go is a different saddle that this saddle fitter is pretty sure will work, or at least can be reflocked, but the thing is pricey..about twice what I would pay for a saddle.

Here is the type of girth:
 

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Training the topline can be done without a saddle or rider on the horse's back.

Please consider the damage that can be done to an underweight horse with no topline muscle :/ It's better to get them nice and fat before you start training. Why is this horse underweight by the way? Was it a rescue? Does it struggle keeping weight on? Stress issue?

EDIT: I just read your new post.. great news! Now just get some weight on that horse! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
He came to the barn I found him at off auction so I dont' know where he was from the time he left the track, his last start was September of 2008, and when the barn got him back in June/July 2011 timeframe.

The horse isn't completely lacking muscle..he just needs more :) and according to the vet, he is only down about 50-100 pounds. I did increase his grain and pellet ration tonight; added an extra quart per day.

Now, I went and got the girth and the pad. I put the next smallest gullet on the saddle and immediately I could see a better fit when I placed it in position on his bare back. I added the pad, girthed up and got on. Definitely a difference. Where before I couldn't get my finger under the saddle at all, today I was able to put two fingers between his withers and the saddle. I did a very thorough check once I got him untacked and there was no indication at all of further abrasion to the rub already there. Hair is starting to grow back in already :)

In working the topline, I took a full week off from riding in order to heal up the rub, (and am feeling it right now) and worked on the ground lunging up and down the hills in one of the larger paddocks, using a balancing system to work that way, just doing some free lunging to let him stretch out.

I am taking a full day off tomorrow with both of us and I have a clinic on Monday. Once that is complete, I will go to a 3 day groundwork to 3 day riding schedule, increasing the riding and decreasing down the lungework as he gains weight and builds more muscle. Even now when riding I am not pushing too hard..doing more stretching out and down with little collection except for the transitions..I still have to set him up and get him balanced before we go into the canter. Today was actually funny. I have been working so hard to get his trot down in prep for the Intro tests at a show in March, I completely forgot about the other hard transition..the halt (for the salute). We did a lot of walk to halt work today, trotting down the centerline and trying to stop not only somewhat square but do it without him dancing, wiggling, sidestepping and generally evading the stop request.
 
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