So I own one of those particularly fussy mares that has an opinion on EVERYTHING. You have to use the right shampoo, right cookies, right halter, etc. If you don't, she'll let you know! We've had some issues with her back due to some hock issues. Well, now that the hock issues have been sorted out(knock on wood!!!) it's on to making sure her back isn't sore. She is rather cold backed and particular about her saddling process because of it, but we've found a system that works for everybody and are just smoothing out the details. I've noticed she prefers a stiff/heavy saddle pad and isn't as snarky when I tack her up. Lately I've been considering adding a therapeutic pad of some sort to see if it makes a difference. Mostly I've been back and forth between a gel pad or sheepskin half pad. She has a sheepskin girth cover that she is in love with which is why I thought about an additional saddle pad. Thoughts? Anything that has worked miracles for your cold backed horse?
Assuming saddle fit isn't an issue, I would try a Back On Track pad.. has worked wonders for one of our cold backed guys.. We didnt necessarily notice a huge difference off the bat... more over time. We really noticed when we stopped using it for maybe two weeks and during that time became noticeably back sore/tight in his work again.. started using the pad and the obvious pain diminished and he was much less cold backed..
My TB has about the worst back possible and no topline. (And I mean that in a literal sense. The apoxial muscles are severely atrophied.) We use an Ogilvy Memory Foam half pad. I was hesitant to spend that much at first but he loves it.
I have a Mattes half pad and some cheap (Dover brand) baby pads. I think I have 7? So I can use them one time and have a clean one for each ride, but they all fit in one washing machine load. It's helped my mare a lot as well as cutting down on some weird dandruffy stuff she had in her mane at the withers.
Pisgah: 2000 AHHA (Holsteiner x TB) Mare (lower level eventing, with a focus on dressage)
Darcy: 7? year old Border Collie x Rottweiler? Drama Queen extraordinaire, rescued from the pound in Jan 2010
I put it on her back where the saddle goes while I'm grooming; keeping it on her for about 15 minutes prior tacking. Then I take it off, tack up and go. The downside is that you need access to a microwave (or need to live close enough to the barn to microwave it at home and have it still be warm when you get there - stays warm for about 40 minutes).
I use a surcingle to keep it from slipping around since my mare doesn't stand still. It's not huge - there may be bigger pads out there. But I find this one gets enough of the epaxial muscles to make a difference.
It has proven to be very useful for many different occasions, even my own sore muscles after a ride. It can also be frozen and used as a cold pack, but I've never used it that way.
Meadow reminded me...what else are you doing for her back? There's a lot of stuff pre, post, and during a ride you can do to help. It isn't ALL about saddle fit. Toby sits in a massage blanket (out of most people's budgets, but the barn owns one), I walk a lot, then go straight to canter (canter is less jarring on backs and is a TB's natural gait!), do lots and lots of stretchy work, go for long walk hacks, and stick him in a Back on Track sheet whenever possible. He also gets regular massage. There's a lot of medical stuff you can do, depending on how big the problem is and how much you're willing to spend
To people who have splurged on these pricey half pads: Was there any sort of guarantee or return policy from the company?
Ecogold is a pleasure to work with. I believe they offer a 30 day guarantee - may be worth giving them a call to see if they would be right for you.
I love the ecogold half pad which is only slightly thicker than the thinline. The ogilvy is much thicker which can help for some with too wide saddles. I would say that the ecogold is about same thickness for saddle fit as my mattes sheepskin half pad.
If saddle fit isn't an issue (have you had the fit checked?), you might try a Mattes fleece pad, and be sure to use the fleece next to her skin rather than putting a pad between. Another possibility would be a ThinLine.
Yes, I have had saddle fit checked and it fits her very well. I am looking into getting a new saddle at the moment because even though it fits her, it's awful for me! So we're seeing if we can find something else that fits her but is a little better for my position.
Currently she has a Back On Track saddlepad that seems to be working alright. She goes better in it than without, but no dramatic difference.
Before I ride she is lunged for 10-15min to help her loosen/warm up her back before I get on. She takes about 10-15min to really start to use her hind end and swing with her back. Plus she is a little green still(6 years old, but this is her first year of consistent work) and the lunging gives her a chance to figure things out without my bodyweight getting in the way!
I can't really afford to invest in a massage/electromagnetic blanket right now, but it is an idea for the future! I really like the idea of using a heating pad on her back before I tack up, I'll definitely have to try that!
When we work, she does go in an active/correct frame and I don't let her run around hollow and inverted. I make sure not to over work her and we very gradually increase her work load. I'm working on trying to fit chiropractic or massage visits into my budget because I really think they could help. Are there any stretches or exercises that I could do pre/post ride to help her loosen up?
She really is a super sweet mare that wants to please, so I know her crankyness while being saddled means she isn't 100% comfortable and I'd like to fix that!
If your saddle already fits well and you don't want to worry about it possibly becoming too tight, get a thinline or gel pad. Both will absorb at least some, if not most, of the shock from the rider.
If you need to slightly alter fit or can afford to have a bit more bulk under the saddle, I would go with either a sheepskin pad or some type of foam pad, like Ogilvy, EcoGold, Equipedic, or Skito. I have an Equipedic pad and two Skito pads. I like the Equipedic, but I love my Skito pads. The foam is really high quality and molds very well to the horse without losing its cush. I have found that with some problems it evens out the saddle quite nicely, but with others it just makes the saddle fit funny - kind of like a sheepskin pad. The pads come standard with 1/2" or 3/4" foam inserts, which can be removed to wash the pad. The Skito people are wonderful to work with and will do custom pads for quite reasonable prices - I believe a custom half pad with 1/2" foam is around $120. If they don't have something you like, you can call and see if they will make something up for you. They will also look at photos of your horse and your saddle and suggest what shims you might need to correct bridging or other saddle fit problems, and will customize those shims to fit the particular problem you are having. A+ customer service.
The equipedic one had a 30 day guarantee. Return if you/your horse doesn't like it within 30 days.
Neither of us likes it all that much with the tree on the dressage saddle (which doesn't fit as well as the jumping saddle anyway). However, my Arab immediately goes to a freer, swingy movement with the pad under the jumping saddle. I have a black one I use every day. I plan to hide it under a white shaped baby pad for hunting.
I've had good experiences with ecogold, and currently use a saddleright. For whatever reason my mare is just plain happier in a saddle fitted over a pad. I was talking to a reputable custom saddler and apparently my experience isn't unique - he said the really a-framed horses seem to stay more comfortable with a stiffer pad under the saddle, the whole thing just has to be fit to work together.
In the depths of time, the words uttered by early man as they leaped for the first time onto a prey animal with a brain the size of a golf ball, were undoubtedly, "Hold my beer and watch this...!"