I am trying out a used Albion SLK and have a question on fit. I ride numerous horses, most of whom have similar backs, and have had great luck for years with Wintec Isabells with Cair panels. I usually keep two around with slightly different gullet sizes. Now one is graduating to become a school saddle and I am looking for a second saddle for myself. The SLK seems to be a good width for all my horses, but one I would have it on most is a mare with a very flat back. It sits well, but it curves up at the rear so that the back of the panels don't touch her back for about the last two inches. It does not do that on the others. They have all been happy in the Isabell, and I am wondering if the slightly different curve of the Albion will bother the flat backed mare. Of course it will change a bit with my weight in it. Any advice from you saddle fitting experts out there?
Thank you, JB. Her back is very flat when looked at from the side, but with a decent wither. She is fairly close coupled, but she is a big mare (17h.) and has plenty of room for a longer saddle. My feeling is that it is the panels being upswept more than the tree, but I'm not really sure how to tell. I surprises me that the Isabell, which is a pretty flat saddle, fits my other horses so well, but I think their backs change more when I ride them. When I do belly lifts on the others their backs really rise, while hers doesn't move much - it's already up! There is a very slight amount of rocking with the Albion, but I think it would be less with weight in the saddle.
JB gave great advice. If the points of the tree fit her shoulders and the panels are otherwise in good contact, a rear riser type of shim pad may help stabilize the rear of the saddle and extend the contact over her back.
I don't think any rear shim is the answer. If the saddle is too narrow and tips back, the shim will fix the balance in that regard, but not the real problem, and will just place more pressure on the withers.
If the tree is too curvy, even a little, and rocks, while the shim might prevent the rocking, it will also just ensure the middle of the curve presses right down on the back.
If the panels are just upswept and the tree is otherwise flat enough, there shouldn't be any rocking or tipping IF there is enough panel-back contact, so a shim wouldn't be necessary at all.
Is there another scenario I'm missing?
GG - put the saddle on her in the right spot, no pad, get up on a step stool or something so you can really see. Look all around it, as you should be able to look under the flaps and see a good deal of the back contact, looking from the back. Run your hand lightly under the flap, along the back panels, and see how even the contact is. Try to rock the saddle. Obviously you'll be able to rock it come if you press on the cantle, in this case, but otherwise it shouldn't rock.
______________________________ The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET
JB, I agree that a shim is definitely not the answer in this particular case. In addition to not solving the problem I think it would alter the balance of the saddle.
I have felt all along the panels from front to back and it seems to be even contact. I'll get the step stool and look from behind also tonight. Thanks!