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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I don't know why I never thought about it, but I asked the barn owner if I could use one of the lesson saddles for Teddy (since the one I bought for him doesn't fit), and she said sure, as long as I give the lesson riders priority.

As a summary for anyone who hasn't been following my experiences with him, I stopped riding him in the early spring. He was having some sort of physical problem -- he just wasn't able to go to the left (I think it was) very well. He would try, but his trot just got slower and slower, and he seemed to be struggling. All of my instructors (I asked three or four, I forget) said he seemed fine, but he wasn't. I had the lameness vet come out, and said that aside from some mild arthritis in one fetlock, he couldn't find any problems. The bodyworker, however, said that he had some serious physical imbalances, and that one shoulder in particular was noticeably bigger than the other. Eventually I had the saddle fitter out, and she said his saddle was a terrible fit, both too wide and too much rock. So, my best guess is that all of the riding I did on a poor-fitting saddle finally got to him.

So, fast forward to now. I did get on him a few days ago, in a bareback pad, just to sort of see where he was, mentally. I mean, he's not the kind of guy you can just throw out in the pasture for half a year and then expect him to be the same. He was OK. I thought he'd be happier in a saddle. Then I had the idea of asking the barn owner if I could use one of the lesson saddles. Teddy tends to change shape a lot with work, and I don't want to get a saddle now that's not going to fit in four months. Anyways, she was fine with it. So I got one that looked good and tried it. But, it wouldn't quite fit straight. I don't know if you can tell that from the pictures. It seemed to just be sitting on him a little diagonally. I'm concerned that his mis-matched shoulders might be making it fit poorly. If that's the case, then I probably need to just buy my own saddle now (wool-flocked) and get it custom fitted to him, and then get it re-fitted in a few months?

What do you guys think?

ETA: I'm sorry some of the pictures are sideways. I will see if I can fit them. I think you can see the shoulder mis-match by looking at the hollows behind his withers, in the picture I took from the back.
 

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Mismatched shoulders will definitely make the saddle sit crooked. That is why a lot of riders will use shims
 

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You're going to think I'm nuts...
The picture looking from butt forward...
Just past the SI/pelvic girdle joint {forward of it} to me he looks to have a twist to his spine, not huge but enough it would cause him to move not balanced trying to compensate...
Looking at the picture of mane toward the butt...I see it there too.

Yes, he indeed has a shoulder imbalance of muscle mass, possibly some heavier bone too.
It is rare you see any horse who is equal as just like humans have a dominant hand and side, so do horses and all living creatures.
To make a animal even you have to work 2x more diligently in everything you do...
When leading from the ground, turn so the weaker side is made to work harder.
When riding if you do 1 lap in the arena at the favored direction, do 2 laps at the awkward direction.
You can even them out, but it is constructive work on rider/handler part to follow-through in any interactions you have with the animal.
:runninghorse2:...
jmo...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
But wouldn't the body worker have noticed if his spine was crooked?
Yes, I think she would have. She gets on a stool right behind their butt and looks down at everything. I will say, though, that I wasn't sure it was going to come through in the pictures, but just looking at him in person yesterday I also thought his spine looked crooked. Maybe I can ask her to take a quick look at him next time she's out, with that particular question in mind, and see what she says.
 

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You tell me...
Shouldn't they have noticed if it is their? You would think. :|

But when you look closely...
I see it or something is slightly off.
When you look closely I see even height of hips, even roundness of butt and rump...
Then I see..... :|


The angle you look at a animal from, the point of leverage and touch you lay your hands on a animal from...
I'm just saying what I believe I see...
What to do, if anything...that is for better educated than I to determine and decipher.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well she was actually coming out to the barn today, so I had her quickly look at Teddy. She said that from her perspective, it's not so much that his spine is curved but that his hips are out of alignment, and that is sort of pushing his spine a little. Like, it sort of bends it like a bow.

She recommended some fancy bareback pad (Christ sheepskin?), but she also thought that it wouldn't hurt to ride him in a saddle as long as it fits. Of course she wants to start working on him, too.

So, back to the original question -- does this saddle look OK? Would it be better for him to ride in a bareback pad? I was thinking I could use the one I have and then put a thick saddle pad under it. Unlike soft, squishy Pony, Teddy has a sharp spine. I do think Teddy prefers to be ridden in a saddle, but I am not sure how much it would bother him to be ridden bareback. Maybe a saddle but with a shimmed pad?

Also @horselovinguy I meant to tell you thank you for saying that about his spine. Like I said, I sort of noticed it when I was taking pictures, so I tried really hard to get one that showed it. But I didn't want to say anything because I wasn't sure I was seeing it right.
 

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I think the saddle fits ok. The only part I kinda didn't like was the shape of the panels, when viewed from the back, but it the flocking is reasonably soft, I think it will be ok. the side view shows a good fit, in my mind.


I thought his spine looked crooked, too, but it might be an illusion because the darkish 'line' on the lower right part of that photo (from butt looking forward) . . well. . . is that his butt crack? or something else. Becuase if that is his butt crack, then he IS crooked, for sure.
 

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I see a bend in the spine too. Which could explain the very asymmetrical muscling.

Personally, I think this is a horse that might need to be ridden in a treeless saddle. I don't think even custom flocking will make up for the rigid, symmetrical tree not matching his body. I also think a rider would have issues trying to compensate.

Also when riding this horse I think he should be allowed to do his gaits however he can move and balance. I rode a horse with a fused spine that could only go on the same lead cantering in either direction. He also liked to pace rather than trot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The thing that gets me is that I started riding him consistently in the fall. He was great. He had a harder time picking up his left lead, but trotting he was the same both ways. And then by the early spring, he just got to where he could barely trot to the left, and I wasn't even going to ask for the canter at that point. In other words, he started out fine, but got worse. To me, I'd think that if his curved spine was causing the problems, it wouldn't have taken months to manifest itself. But I don't know enough to know. Maybe it was the curved spine plus being ridden consistently in a saddle that didn't fit.

The nice thing about Teddy is that, aside from the shoulder imbalance, he's a pretty normal-shaped horse. Unlike Pony, where I was never sure I'd be able to find a treeless saddle that would fit, and I was worried that I'd buy one, it wouldn't fit, and then I still wouldn't have a saddle. So if I want to go treeless, I could probably buy just about any brand and it would work.

Also, Teddy obviously has a spine, so unlike with Pony I wouldn't be worried about the treeless saddle slipping to one side.
 

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So apparently adult horses can acquire scoliosis just from muscle spasm that causes the bend in the spine.

This may be an issue that developed after he was doing well initially. It also could have started with a minor injury that caused a muscle spasm that worsened over time.

I started my crooked mare with walking and lunging big circles in the bad direction until she could do smaller ones. Also carrot stretches. The horse will bend more easily to the side with the bigger muscles and have difficulty stretching to circle the other way.

I would think that like humans with muscle spasm issues, movement and stretching will help. Magnesium also if you are not feeding it yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I would think that like humans with muscle spasm issues, movement and stretching will help. Magnesium also if you are not feeding it yet.
Interesting. I had started giving him magnesium for his anxiety, but it didn't help so I stopped. I still have it, though. I will add it back in.
 

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Here is a thought and more a question...
Could the anxiety be because of, or caused from the pain of muscle spasms?


Could it be a vicious cycle and running in circles but till you can break the cycle and circle...well, you are back to the beginning and never ending end...:| :icon_rolleyes:
Oh boy...
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Here is a thought and more a question...
Could the anxiety be because of, or caused from the pain of muscle spasms?
Although that's possible, the reason he was given to me was because of his anxiety. I worked with him on the ground for a few months, dealing with that anxiety over every little thing, before getting on him. I didn't ride him until he was ready for it. And his anxiety only decreased over the course of me riding him.

Thinking back on it, I suppose that, originally, his physical issues could have caused the anxiety, as he was being used as a lesson horse and no one really paid attention to saddle fit or anything. He was ridden under an instructor whose first response to a refusal was to blame the horse, then the rider. Rather than look for physical causes.

FWIW the body worker worked on him once and she thought a lot of his stiffness WAS due to, I forget how she put it, like long-term anxiety being built into muscle and body stiffness. She thinks he should be worked on a lot before I try and more significant riding with him, which I suppose was another reason I haven't ridden him -- I can't really afford what she was talking about right now, for a horse that I don't need to ride.

ETA: Maybe I should just leave him as a pasture pet. He is really nice to ride, though...
 
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