Ok, here's the story: My horse is an Arabian and pear shaped with a big ribcage, with well muscled withers (still more narrow up front though). He requires a wide or extra wide tree saddle to fit the withers and so far I have found two saddles that create a happy horse and nice, even sweat marks with no dry spots save along the spine. They are a Black Country MW tree saddle, and the NEW Bates with the X-wide gullet installed (I had the older x-wide gullet installed and it didn't fit until I was sent the NEW style X-wide, and while it doesn't appear to be much different, it fit MUCH better, with perfect sweat marks and a comfortable horse).
Only problem is, both saddles seem to slide more forward than I feel they should be. In all honesty, they don't seem to restrict shoulder movement or make him sore, but I haven't ridden in either of them more than a couple times (sold the black country last year to pay off a vet bill and have the bates on trial now).
I can't decide if I just set the saddle too far back to begin with and it slides forward to find that sweet spot, if it's his pear shaped conformation, if the saddles really don't fit, or if I need a different pad or girth. Or perhaps I need to put the girth on the back billets or the front?
I'll try and get photos of where I place the saddle before I ride and where it ends up after the ride tomorrow. I might be paranoid after all the saddle fit h*ll I've been through, as he seems just as happy and comfortable by the time we're done (he's very stoic though).
I was wondering if anyone had any photos of their well fitting saddle's placement on their horse's back, if anyone has been through this and what they did to solve it, and any more info or experience on it.
If these saddles seem to fit when in the right place, I'd start with a sticky pad to help keep it there. Nunn finer's black thing, those light blue mesh gel things meant for legs (my favorite), a damp chamois, a damp piece of that rubber-mesh bar-shelf cloth will all work.
If you stay in the saddle market, you might want to think about the shape of your saddle's tree, front to back. Flatter might help you. I find Quantums and Bates (at least my very, very old Caprilli) to have a bit too much curve for my horse's back. He likes to shove saddles backward, but when he has an appropriately flat tree, it stays in the right place. I had no idea.
Otherwise, if you can borrow an anatomic girth from someone you might try that. Or read Risk-Averse Rider's whole cotton pickin' thread on that bad boy.
Have you thought of trying a crupper? I don't know what type of riding you do, whether you show dressage/ hunters or just trail ride, but this could help. Otherwise the nunn finer sticky pads are great. Good luck!!
Don't use a crupper...they're mainly to keep a driving harness in place.
Get a nice saddle breeching for your horse (I ride a mule and use a breeching and breast collar for my english saddle...all Passier, he's very uppity).
Put a crupper "T" adapter under your saddle, it'll give the breeching a place to attach, the side straps will have your back billet on your girth hold them in place (kind've like the keeper straps on some saddle pads using the front billet).
Everything will stay in place where you put it. Look on endurance or mule tack websites. You can find the crupper "T" at any tack store, just throw away the crupper that comes with it.
The front angle picture tells me it's also not really the right shape. It's too A-frame for his more U shape. The angle of the shoulder panels are not as steep as his shoulder. The bottom of the panel appears to have pulled away from him.
See if you can get a W Quantum X, which is the hoop tree, to try on him. It really does appear he needs to have the saddle wider up top, but not the kind of wider you get with the next size gullet in a changeable gullet saddle.
______________________________ The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET
Pear shaped and pregnant Essentially what JB said, but I think a contributing factor here is also how he uses his abs and back. Many Arabs want to be upside down (inverted) and do not use thier abs properly to release the top line. If he resists belly lifts (gets agitated or dancy about it) the abs need more work.
Perhaps working on that and getting him to round better might help the saddle fit as well.
The red line is the appx shape of the panel (from what I can tell in the photo, its hard with a pad), the blue is what appear to be your horse's shoulder. The lines do not match, your horse has more shape than the saddle. This, imho, is causing the front of the saddle to sort of sit up in never never land.
Arabs, to my limited knowledge, are unique to fit. They are wide, wide shouldered, round barreled, short coupled and often mutton withered. But unlike QH or other breeds with similar confo (like my mustang), Arabs also have shape to them and a rather unique flair or angle to the shoulder. Its tough to find saddles that fit them really really well.
From your photos, your horse still seems to have lots of room for his back to develop, especially down the muscles along his spine. What I'm seeing is the saddle you have now is likely to cause pressure in a single spot because of the way the angles meet up, and the back panels are too flat side to side, and sticking straight out to the sides, which means the actual surface bearing area is fairly narrow. However, those panels, imho, do represent what your horse's back has the potential to become.
Finally, if you're on the XW gullet now, that means if the horse gets wider at any point, you've reach the limit of what this saddle can do for you. (unless they make an XXW?)
No doubt the saddle is comfy, and the new soft panels probably absorb any minor fit issues, and if you're coming off a really ill fitting saddle, this probably feels like heaven in comparison... but in my opinion, it may not be the best long term investment saddle choice.
You also noticed that while this bates is an XW gullet, you had success on this horse in a MW BC... thats because likely the shape of the BC was more suitable.
Though I wouldn't shelf this saddle completely, I might not purchase it yet if you have other options. I'd look especially at saddles made for arabs, like Lovatt & Ricketts.
This is all just my non-professional opinion. I hope its some help.