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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 1999
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    Default The mother of all saddle fitting tracings!

    I never looked this closely at the Frank Baines site, but this wither tracing profile ROCKS!
    http://www.frankbaines.com/fitforthefuture1.asp

    Not only do you take about 5 "wither" tracings all down the back, as opposed to the typical 1, the less typical 2, but you have to take tracings that correspond to the length of the back muscles, under where the panels sit And then of course the measurement along the spine itself.

    Excellent
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  2. #2
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    Jul. 31, 2007
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    Default Excellent indeed!

    Y'all be sure to read steps 1-4 on the page, but click on steps 5-11, too.

    Most excellent because of the traced lines along the muscles on either side of the spine. If you get that curve, you can also make one of the underside of your saddles' panels and appreciate the difference or similarity.

    Of course you can do that for the "sideways" fit of your saddle at every point from withers to cantle, too with the five-finger wither tracings.

    Like the five finger discount. Or, really, no discount of time, effort... maybe some money because now you really know what you need in real dimensions.

    Thanks JB! Thanks Frank Baines. This chart and the many different Baines-made saddles I have seen makes me think the guy's a good saddler.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  3. #3
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    Dec. 13, 1999
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    Default

    bumping for JSwan and RAR and others
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep. 25, 2005
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    Default

    Yeah that's great - until the horse travels long and low, or inverts, or bucks, etc..... The spine and muscles are constantly moving and flexing and it is 100% impossible for a tree to fit the spine and muscles perfectly, all the time, regardless of what the horse is doing, what gait he's in, etc. Besides, you can do the mother of all saddle tracings today, and 2 months from now, that saddle doesn't fit anymore. That's why I ride treeless.



  5. #5
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    Dec. 13, 1999
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    Default

    AT, of course the tracing is only a starting point. These tracings are FAR more comprehensive than any other site I've seen. You HAVE to start somewhere.

    FWIW, treeless was making my horse NQR once his work increased to more back engagement. It worked great until then. It does not work for all horses in all situations.

    That is why the philosophy that Balance has, and a few others I've run across, is a great mix of the too. Fit wide and pad for the situation. The benefits of treeless with the stability that some horses and riders require.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
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    Default Potential disagreement-- just my 0.02

    In my experience-- with many horses but a changing WB I have had for more than a decade-- a good fitting standing still is good enough.

    Yes, they change drastically over a lifetime. Yes, they change with work and soundness-- some more than others. Yes, the surface of the back becomes comparatively convex instead of flat or concave when they are moving and using themselves.

    But I think the convex and moving is not a the most painful position to fit. I suppose moving, downhill, head in the air is the most painful position to fit. So for most, I'll take a good fitting standing still. I also like to actually ride in the puppy before I buy to see if moving really changes things.

    I worry about treeless-- thanks to some of my competitive distance friends. Those guys have amazing standards for saddle fit. Yes, there are raging debates about tree-d vx. untreed saddles. I also take note of the western saddle philosophy: create a big, stiff frame that distributes the pokey three points of bone at the bottom of your pelvis over a broad surface area. A treeless saddle is not designed to do that.

    I also notice that a saddle that moves a lot on a horses' back-- usually too wide and curved that rolls back and forth when you post hurts them real bad, real quick. To me, this means that horses do want us to sit on a stable platform.

    Again, just my amateur ideas.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep. 25, 2005
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    Default

    I ride endurance and that's why I abandoned treed saddles. I've used 2 saddle fitters and spent untold dollars trying to fit treed saddles, only to have them lame the horse or make white marks months down the road. Never again. I ride a lot of miles every week, and I ride pretty fast. The treeless saddles are the only thing that keeps my horse comfortable and working 100%. You have to use a pad that's designed to disperse pressure through the foam and absorb shock. I also had a set of felted wool inserts made for my pad, which are firm and very supportive. That coupled with the ultracell foam inserts, and you can have a friend kneel on the pad with your hand underneath and you feel no sharp pressure. You cannot use a regular saddle pad. I spent almost 200 just on the pad.

    I won't get into the debate any further than this, but just wanted to say that even the best saddle fit tracing in the world are still fitting the back in its static position - and not during movement. The back changes dramatically during the ride, and from day to day, even depending on how hydrated the horse is. I know a lot of distance riders who have gone treeless because it's just better for the horse over the long haul. My horse's recoveries and heart rates improved after switching to treeless. She used to sweat and get extremely agitated going up and down hills. She now just charges them like a freight train without a care in the world. Going treeless made a world of difference for both my riding mares. Not trying to argue or convince anybody of anything - just throwing that out there about what I do and why.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 6, 2003
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    NorthEast
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    Default

    I've always found doing a cast of the withers and back better than tracings.
    Use a small sheet of plastic and some fast setting paper mache. Plastic sheet the horse and give it a hay bag. Cover sheet with fast setting paper mache...mold to horse's actual back and give it 20 minutes to semi-set. The remove carefully and allow to finish setting off the horse. Voila...your horse's back and withers for saddle purchasing.
    I've done this when saddle shopping before if I wasn't going to use a fitter. That way I can bring my horses' back to the tack shop instead of taking saddles on trail or trailering the horse in.
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
    Posts
    15,269

    Default My mom was right!

    Thanks for the instructions, Mistyblue. I was whining/pontificating to my mom (who good give a rat's a$$) about the impossibility of representing the shape for my horse's back to anyone.

    She said, "Just make a mold!"

    Duh.

    When I get desparate enough I'll try it. Now I'd have to have a good tackstore within driving distance to it to.

    But that's another whine for another time.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 1999
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Auventera Two View Post
    I ride endurance and that's why I abandoned treed saddles. I've used 2 saddle fitters and spent untold dollars trying to fit treed saddles, only to have them lame the horse or make white marks months down the road. Never again. I ride a lot of miles every week, and I ride pretty fast. The treeless saddles are the only thing that keeps my horse comfortable and working 100%. You have to use a pad that's designed to disperse pressure through the foam and absorb shock. I also had a set of felted wool inserts made for my pad, which are firm and very supportive. That coupled with the ultracell foam inserts, and you can have a friend kneel on the pad with your hand underneath and you feel no sharp pressure. You cannot use a regular saddle pad. I spent almost 200 just on the pad.
    Nobody is saying treeless is not a great option for many horses in some form. *I* am saying that treeless is not for every rider or every horse. Not all treeless saddles are made the same way. Not all horses like that "instability", no matter what. Certainly not all riders like it.

    I won't get into the debate any further than this, but just wanted to say that even the best saddle fit tracing in the world are still fitting the back in its static position - and not during movement. The back changes dramatically during the ride, and from day to day, even depending on how hydrated the horse is. I know a lot of distance riders who have gone treeless because it's just better for the horse over the long haul. My horse's recoveries and heart rates improved after switching to treeless. She used to sweat and get extremely agitated going up and down hills. She now just charges them like a freight train without a care in the world. Going treeless made a world of difference for both my riding mares. Not trying to argue or convince anybody of anything - just throwing that out there about what I do and why.
    Sure, and for MANY horses and riders, treed saddles are the right answer, IF they are done well. Like I said, the Balance philosophy is almost a mix of treed and treeless, because you're fitting wide, and using non-trivial padding that provides a much different buffer between the saddle and the horse than a thin cotton pad or even a regular fleece pad.

    Different strokes for different horses
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  11. #11
    Join Date
    May. 16, 2009
    Location
    KY
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    Default

    Cashel has something called the Soft Saddle. Would this be the same as a treeless saddle?

    Here mis what the catalog states: Quoted to the letter.

    "Layers of Cashel closed cell foam and neoprene are constructed over a sculped front and back foam wedge to provide a lightweight, secure, close seat contact without painful pressure points. Comes with removable western stirrups, nylon latigo and nylon off billet strap". They some in med and in large of various colors.

    It also has a Cashel Soft Saddle Pad that you can buy to go with it.
    Take time to stop and smell the flowers.

    Don't poke the Bear!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr. 10, 2006
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I've always found doing a cast of the withers and back better than tracings.
    Use a small sheet of plastic and some fast setting paper mache. Plastic sheet the horse and give it a hay bag. Cover sheet with fast setting paper mache...mold to horse's actual back and give it 20 minutes to semi-set. The remove carefully and allow to finish setting off the horse. Voila...your horse's back and withers for saddle purchasing.
    I've done this when saddle shopping before if I wasn't going to use a fitter. That way I can bring my horses' back to the tack shop instead of taking saddles on trail or trailering the horse in.
    That's genius! Wish I had thought of that!!

    And seriously you could probably sell paper mache in a kit and market it as a saddle fitting tool and probably make a million
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.



  13. #13
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    Dec. 13, 1999
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JellyBeanQueen View Post
    Cashel has something called the Soft Saddle. Would this be the same as a treeless saddle?
    The Soft Ride is less formed than a typical treeless saddle. It's more like a "formed" bareback pad. I know a couple of folks who trail ride exclusively in this and love it.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  14. #14
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    Feb. 28, 2001
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    Default

    JB treeless did not make your horse sore. ONE treeless model did! :-P



  15. #15
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    I trialed a Soft Saddle for a few days and it was the most comfortable thing I've ever sat in! It just didn't work for my horse though because it slipped back pretty bad and needed a breastcollar to keep it forward where it belonged. There is no way those little breastcollar rings would have held up to that load. Granted she is a mutton withered propane barrel. On a horse with decent withers and conformation, it probably works much better.

    I had 3 treeless saddles before settling on one that works for me and the horses. There are lots of different models and fitting/customization options for each one. Some people go through 10 before they find the right one. That's no different than finding a treed saddle that works.

    Seriously, I wasn't trying to be ugly, or argue! I just won't trust a saddle fit tracing, no matter how thorough it is because the back is dynamic - not static. My *opinion* (nothing more!) is that it is impossible to stick a wodden or fiberglass form on top of the horse's back and make absolute certain that it fits that back 100% every single ride, no matter what the horse is doing.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2004
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    City of delusion in the state of total denial
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    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I've always found doing a cast of the withers and back better than tracings.
    Use a small sheet of plastic and some fast setting paper mache. Plastic sheet the horse and give it a hay bag. Cover sheet with fast setting paper mache...mold to horse's actual back and give it 20 minutes to semi-set. The remove carefully and allow to finish setting off the horse. Voila...your horse's back and withers for saddle purchasing.
    I've done this when saddle shopping before if I wasn't going to use a fitter. That way I can bring my horses' back to the tack shop instead of taking saddles on trail or trailering the horse in.
    That is absolutely brilliant. I'm off to buy papier-mache.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
    - Harry Dresden

    Horse Isle 2: Legend of the Esrohs LifeCycle Breeding and competition MMORPG



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMH View Post
    JB treeless did not make your horse sore. ONE treeless model did! :-P
    You're right, I thought I clarified that there are different treeless models and not all models, if any, are suitable for all horses/riders
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  18. #18
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    Feb. 6, 2003
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    Make sure to mark on the plastic sheet how far the saddle goes down the back and down the side. I use torn newspaper strips and make my own goop...I make the cooked method because it sets the smoothest. 1 cup flour to every 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and turn off, stirring to keep smooth. Once it's goopy, use it to dip the newspaper or crepe paper in and apply.
    Once you let it set long enough to hold it's form, place it with plastic sheet on a saddle rack that has a thick pad over it. After it dries completely...you can make it last forever by brushing/painting it with quixk set acrylic you can get cheap at a craft store. Do that in a ventilated area or risk being high as a kite, LOL!
    It's also a fun way to take a cast later on to see if/how the back changes. I still have the cast of my late mare Galopin...she was high withered so the cast helped a lot figuring out saddle fits when I brought it to a tack shop. Even the saddle fitted used it once when I had one out to my place...Gal was tall and didn't like strangers hanging all over her and it was easier to check the fit a second time on the cast.
    Use a marker to write the horse's name and date on the inside of the cast if you have more than one horse.
    Oh, and don't ride the cast. It breaks.
    (stop laughing at how I probably know this)
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  19. #19
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    Jul. 21, 2006
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    South Carolina
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    Default

    I love the papier mache idea! I've seen those plastic sheets you can buy that you heat up in the oven and then mold to the horse, but they were pretty expensive. I'm going to make molds of the paint pony at different stages of fittening up so I can see how his back changes shape. Thanks, MistyBlue.

    And thanks, JB for that great link.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec. 9, 2005
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    North East, MD
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    Horses with very prominent withers and backbone are usually best served by a treed saddle. I've seen some backbones that no amount padding will keep the rider off--only a gullet can do that. Well, I guess they could have padded it enough, but then the saddle would not feel stable. I'm a treeless fan, but there are some back conformations that don't mix with treeless. JMHO.

    A client recently adopted a retired Amish Belgian. His back is so asymmetrical that she is going to have to be very creative in padding him. I helped her to take tracings on two different parts of his back, and it would have been great to have these instructions. Sadly, another boarder, something of a yahoo, has convinced her that the horse will be just fine with a saddle that is waaaay too narrow for him. Convenience wins out, I guess.

    p.s. At the last endurance ride where I scribed for a vet, a horse came in with a very sore back. Treeless saddle. The vet was thinking that perhaps the rigging was too far forward, allowing the back of the saddle to twist back and forth as the rider posted. The horse was so sore it was shortstriding badly in the hind. Getting the rigging right for the horse is as important as the fit. Does anybody make sure the rigging matches the horse's girth channel these days?



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