ill fitting saddle- what can I do before my new saddle comes?
Long story short- over the past year and a half or so I've been having some lameness/soreness issues with one of my TB's. I've been bringing her back slowly from having a couple years off while I was in college. I've had her SI injected and gave Tildren a try and was very happy with the results (all within the last 6 months).
Recently, I entertained the idea that my saddle fit might have had something to do with our issues so the other day I had a saddle fitter come out. It turns out the saddle is an absolute AWFUL fit for my horse. I'm talking about muscle atrophy awful. I've sat in some other brands of saddles and found one that fits her very well. I'm buying new and having it made to fit her so hopefully we will not have saddle issues moving forward. Problem (or maybe not a "problem") is that it is going to take 10 weeks to get to me. She is currently not lame, but has no top line, and I feel like such a bad mom that I refuse to put the saddle back on her. There are other saddles in the barn that I could try but to be honest, I don't want to keep throwing different saddles on if there are more productive things I could be doing with her.
Now for the actual question. Does anyone have any recommendations for some TLC after a bad saddle fit experience. I've got 10 weeks before the new one gets here, so I thought it would be nice to maybe do some acupuncture, massage, etc. Anyone also have any recommendations for exercise in the mean time. She definitely is not lame and can work- but I almost want to give her a little break with regards to me getting on her, until I have a saddle that fits properly. I also have a back on track back pad that I would like to start introducing and will hopefully make her feel good. I should note she does not lunge very well, but maybe this the time to learn the proper mechanics of lunging? Any way to do this and teach her to use herself and develop her top line at the same time? Thanks in advance for any advice or thoughts!
Last edited by hunterjumper21; Nov. 13, 2012 at 02:09 PM.
Hand walk or pony her at the walk on hills. It is my #1 go-to for building back muscle on a horse and it is really amazing how much improvement can be seen with just a little bit of work. Encourage her to stretch down, but maintain a marching walk and do not allow her to stop and snack--it is still time to work.
Carrot stretches and belly lifts will also likely help!
I would absolutely take the opportunity to teach her to lunge. That's something she needs to have in her horse toolbox anyway, and it will help with her back too. Once she's good at it, add side reins to help her stretch and strengthen her back. If you really want to get fancy, try long-lining, too; it's really fun and allows much more options than lungeing since you can go all the way around the arena.
I would do a combination of hand-walking on hills, lunging, and riding bareback. My FEI horse has some serious saddle issues, and has rehabbed wonderfully bareback. Find a good padding set-up and keep the session short at first.
Just standing around resting will help with soreness - but won't help rectify the muscling, so I'd try to keep a pretty regular schedule.
Bareback! If you are serious, get a bareback pad with a girth attachment. I borrowed one from a friend when my horse was rehabbing an injury -- after prolonged stall rest his saddle was a no go and I didn't want to buy a new one until he was somewhat more muscled up. With the proper bareback pad I was able to hack out w-t-c and do fairly rigorous dressage lessons....and it's fun!
I spent a lot of time bareback during the Great Saddle Search. I believe it's a good thing to have in the toolbox (if the withers suit) if for no other reason than it makes bringing in in a foot of snow a lot easier.
"I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
- Harry Dresden
Bareback may not be the thing. Depends upon her conformation, your conformation and riding ability.
"Surprising facts about bareback riding" in the November issue of Equus magazine says bareback riding can cause severe pressure points on a horse's back. The saddle distributes the rider's weight more evenly.
Thanks for the advice everyone! I think long lining sounds like a fantastic idea and we will definitly be doing some hill work. The muscle atrophy is behind her withers and at her loins so I'm a little hesitant to do much bareback riding right away. Also, I was thinking that maybe her diet is lacking in certain areas and was interested in having a feed analysis done. She currently is on Nutrena and someone told me that a while back they had one of the nutritionists come out and do an analysis of her horses diet free of charge. Anyone know this to be true?