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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov. 3, 2003

    Default Saddle migrating . . . thoughts on shimming one side of a saddle?

    Both my dressage and jumping saddle end up shifting to the right on my horse, especially after we canter to the left. My dressage saddle, fits very well and has been recently adjusted by a saddle fitter. My jumping saddle fits fairly well, but unfortunately, I can’t make any adjustments to it because the darn thing is foam flocked.

    My dressage instructor has noted that my horse does not want to lift her right hip (especially in the canter left) and this is why my saddle “migrates” over (despite my best amateur rider efforts to keep my weight left). We work constantly on straightness during our rides. And yes I have my local vet, a sport horse chiropractor/vet, and a massage person that see her regularly. There is no apparent injury or issue they can find, except that she is weaker in one hind leg than the other.

    The biggest problem is that when I end up with my weight too far to the right (especially when jumping) it really pisses her off (so thankful for mares that let the world know when you aren’t perfect!)

    So, recently, someone suggested trying to add shims only on the right side of my saddle (in the back more than the front). A fellow boarder has a Mattes pad that allows you to add shims to the front and back sections of the pad. I have talked to some saddle fitters that do flock up areas where a horse is uneven in their muscling or on their weaker, more undeveloped side. Anyone else experience this and have any thoughts, advice?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2003
    Middleburg, VA


    Vernon had a small roach in his back, and the muscles across there did odd things to saddles, usually pulling them off to one side. I did end up shimming one side (the back) for awhile with a Mattes correction pad, but I actually think it made his sensitive back angrier, not to mention his stupidly sensitive skin was displeased with that somehow, too (the pad rubbed him...he lived in Mattes pads before and after the shim).

    I went back to a flat pad. The thing that helped to stablize the saddle the most was getting his topline more developed. Lots of stretchy work, under saddle and on the lunge. By the time I sold him, we no longer had the issue.

    I would NOT flock up one side of a sadde, ever, personally. Horses can change VERY quickly, and to keep up with changing backs, you would have to have the flocking fixed probably a cost prohibitive amount! The corrections pads, while not something I love, are a decent way to make adjustments.

    I am so not a saddle fit person, but I would question why a saddle that was just fit to the horse still tips off to the side.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov. 7, 2006
    Knoxville TN


    You can probably stabilise the saddle by adding 1/4 to 1/2 inch on the LEFT shoulder. That's stabilising the saddle, not solving the problem. There was a neat study on this recently, where the findings indicated that a very high percentage of saddle-slipping problems were an early warning sign of lameness in the hind end. I should try to dig out that link.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May. 17, 2010

    Default I did shim and yes, it was an early sign of hind end lameness

    Had not heard this before, but I am a believer now.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep. 13, 2002
    Azle, Teh-has


    I had a saddler stuff up one side of my saddle more than the other. My mare was conformationally different. You could see the difference in her bone structure when you looked down her back.

    I have had horses that will shift the saddle or as I say "want to always hold me on X side".
    This is due to lack of ambidexterity.
    I suppose a shim would work but even better would be to work the horses muscles up evenly throughout.
    Check the shim weekly and remove it when needed.

    Make sure your horse is straight and through. It can take a while but it is possible.

    The horse who did this saddle shifting most to me was my Mom's little paint horse.
    In his case it seems to be that it was all because he was indeed very lame. It just took us 2 years to figure out where and how bad. And without a major injury which called for an MRI we would have never known had badly he hurt every step of every day for who knows how long.

    So I am not surprised with the mention of a lameness article and saddle slippage.
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

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