Saddle fit: large dry areas, horse seems comfortable.
Hello all, I had a question concerning saddle fit for you all.
I have a wide tree County pro-fit saddle that I love and my horse is actually quite happy in as well (or so it seems). He's a stout Arabian that tends to be quite obvious if he is uncomfortable with a saddle. In this County, he has never offered a buck, bounce, rushy gait, or any other form of displeasure when wearing it. It sits level on his back both girthed and ungirthed and I use a simple cotton blanket, quite thin.
I have noticed though, that every time I take the saddle off, there are two even and matching dry areas behind the back of his scapula about the size of my fist. I am constantly checking him for soreness and recently gave him a good 40 minute massage where he showed no signs of pain, just enjoyment.
What could be causing these marks? Are they ok? Are they causing damage that neither he nor I have noticed? I would imagine that he would know, considering he is ridden in it.
No saddle fitters will be in my area for at least a month and I have had terrible luck with them anyway. Just curious to see if anyone has had this experience before.
I mainly hear that when the horse is moving, their muscles move in such a way that that area becomes more hollow and then goes back to its original shape as the legs swing back and forward. Does that make sense? Like when they are swinging out their LF, the area behind the scapula hollows out, thus bringing air into it, so there isn't sweat. My horse was always like that, and the explanation fit in with my policy toward that particular phenomena: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"
Another "If it ain't broke... and if you have a horse who would tell you if it was....." person here.
Dry spots have been implicated in signifying two opposite things:
1) an area with so much pressure that it impairs circulation to the point that the horse can't even sweat, or 2) a place of "bridging" where the saddle is not meeting the back evenly and allowing all of it to support your weight.
If you want to know if there's a problem before your horse says so, feel around before and after you ride. The sore horse will react to fingers drawn over the muscles near the dry spots. The not-yet-sore-but-potential-problem horse's muscles will feel different pre- and a few hours post-ride. Here your feeling for texture. The muscles should feel equally rubbery both times, not thinner, flatter or more taut post-ride. This may not be true in the first few minutes after you take the saddle off, so come back a little later to get your post-ride reading.
Saddles don't have to fit perfectly. In fact they won't fit the same way at all times since a horse's back changes with work load and age. You can chase the perfect sweatmark, but there's no point. Use your horse's opinion as your guide.
Alright, sounds good. So far he is comfortable with no signs of soreness either soon after our ride, or days after. His obvious signs of displeasure are a buck now and then, hopping into the canter, or being head-held-high rushy and he has not yet offered anything like this. Granted, he's not always this obvious unless it is truely a bad fit, but this saddle has been very balanced and doesn't move up on his shoudlers like so many have. It doesn't appear very wide in the gullet, especially against my relatively wide horse, but he seems happy, so I'll let it go for now. It will need to be reflocked within the next few months anyway, so I'll consult a fitter then.