So I've decided that it's time to start looking for a saddle. I got my current saddle when I was 12, so I have understandably changed since then. It fits my horse ok, not great, but it wasn't purchased for her specifically, so now that she's put in the work to develop a topline, I think she deserves a saddle that isn't a hand-me-down from her big sister. It's an Albion Legend K2 (I don't think they make them anymore, but I could be wrong).
I also have a bad back and do lots of things to avoid an inevitable surgery, but I think my saddle is really working against me. The seat is rock hard and the tree doesn't absorb much impact either. My horse is a very big moving modern warmblood and riding her in this saddle has gotten downright painful.
I've sat in a Stubben Biomex, which felt lovely, and am definitely going to try one while riding. Someone also recommended I try a Hennig, as these are made for horses like mine, with cutback points, and they also are designed to absorb a lot of shock for the rider. Does anyone have any other suggestions?
Have you thought about trying a thinline pad to absorb some of the shock for your back? Alternatively, have you thought about having the saddle reflocked?
I use a Thinline pad with sheepskin and I have had the saddle reflocked just a few months ago. Most other Albions I have ridden in are much softer than mine. For some reason I just decided to get a hard one.
I have two custom saddles: an albion and a custom saddlery. I have a very bad back (bad structure, then I broke it in a jumping accident 20 years ago).
I find the custom a bit easier on my back, but honestly you are just going to need to ride in them and see. The angles seem to be the biggest issue for me. As long as I keep them flocked regularly, I'm good to go. It the fit changes, then I'm in trouble.
Have you tries something by Bates or Wintec, with CAIR panels? I could feel an immediate difference in my own back when I first rode on CAIR panels. Some of the relief may have been from the actual saddle fit, but I do think the CAIR panels offer a little more "squish" for both parties.
I have had back problems for well over 25 years. What I have found personally, is that the seat needs to be large enough so that I am not sitting on the cantle's rise. This makes you over arch your lower back and jam it. Also, if the block is too large or the flap too straight your knee will be pushed back thus shoving your seat too far back in the saddle and again jamming your lower back. I am currently riding in a saddle that was given to me. The saddle was made for my horse's sire and fits her to a T. The bonus is that the saddle was also made for his shorter rider (I am 5'8") so the tapered block is above my knee. This allows me to sit with a bend in my leg joints and not get pushed to the back of the saddle. The saddle is a Ferdi Weischenberger which is built on a Passier tree. The seat is flatter and not really soft, but because I can sit without being jammed I have zero back pain when I ride and actually am better AFTER I get off. I would keep this info in mind when you are trying saddles. Even the cushiest of saddles will cause back pain if it doesn't allow you to sit properly. Good luck!
1. What about your back is at risk for surgery and where? (L4? L5?)
2. What level are you currently riding? Do you think you have an independent seat?
I ask because I have scoliosis and spina bifida, plus a neck with no curve, two extra transition points in my back, and I used to have compression between L4 and L5. In other words, I understand back issues ;-)
I have to stay away from deep saddles, and I support my back with strong abdominals. I spent 3 years just working on my seat, with instruction 3 days a week. It has TOTALLY paid off. Correct position=pain free.