For All You Saddle Fit Gurus.. A little help please?
A few years ago I had the panels replaced on my saddle to fit my current horse. When I bought the saddle, I bought it custom to me, but I did not own him yet. I had the antares rep look at him and the saddle and he decided which panels to replace the standard ones with, but i was just wanting to know what you all think. I am not a saddle fit expert, that's why I am asking. If you're wondering why the panels look weird, it is because they accidentally put calfskin ones on instead of buffalo to match the rest of my saddle. That's a whole different story.. it was a disaster.
I ride him in a Mattes sheepskin half pad, but I would like to switch to a thinline or something like it, I just want to make sure the saddle fits him well.
To me the saddle fits fine. Try lunging him with it on and see if his trot and canter are good and that the saddle isn't swaying in the back. FYI if your saddle really fits you shouldn't have to use any kind of pad besides a saddle pad. The saddle will actually conform to the mattes or thinline pad instead of the horse. Are the panels wool?
First, Antares saddles (like most of the Frenchies) are foam flocked. FYI: Wool-flocked saddles will typically have a seam that runs along the bottom of the panel. That gives the panel-- a leather bag-- a 3-D shape. The foam itself does that work in these seamless panels.
Next, the near-side shot makes it look like your saddle is too far forward. Where's the right spot for your saddle? Your horse's back will tell you. Put the saddle on your horse naked and slide it back until it stops. Do this a couple of times to be sure. That position is the one where the saddle *will* rest on your horse's back, no matter what you do to pad, girths or whatever.
The near-side shot makes it look as if the saddle comes quite close to his withers. Are they especially tall? But the saddle so far up on his shoulder may be creating this look. It's not quite so bad on the off side.
If it's convenient, I'd suggest you resaddle your horse as described above and then take these 4 shots for us:
1) Side view as you have.
2-3) 3/4 view of the left and right. You have these two. Your armchair saddlers will want to see wither clearance and the line of the panels from top to bottom as the follow the line of your horse's back behind the withers.
4) Back view. That shows how the panels in the back 1/3 of the seat follow the line of his back. As in front, those should be parallel, with the panels distributing your weight evenly.
After that, it's you feeling around underneath the saddle for gaps or pinching spots and you feeling your horse's back for pain and tightness.
Hope this helps. There are plenty of people good at saddle fitting on COTH, so I think your effort will pay off.