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Very Round Very Muscular Very Active

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  • Very Round Very Muscular Very Active

    Very Round Very Muscular Very Active Back - This was also posted in the hunter jumper forum but there haven't been any replies....

    I have had my horse for almost a year, during which time he has changed drastically, in good ways.

    He has a very wide, very muscular and very round back. He has a small wither, a large shoulder and is a little high behind. His back flatens a bit at the base of his wither and drops off under where the rider would sit, before it rises back up to meet the top of his rump.

    However, when he is in motion, his back rises a good two inches or more, filling in all of the dropped off areas that exist while he is standing still. It rises up so much that he no longer looks high behind because his back meets the top of his rump. Depending upon the gate, it can rise and fall or on a good day, stay round/full/up.

    I don't think that I have ever ridden or observed a horse with quite so much motion in his back.

    We are having a bit of a saddle problem due to the drastic difference between the resting position of his back and the active position of his back.

    His saddle fits well resting, but he pins his ears, hollows out and drops his back at the walk a bit and especially at the canter. He also avoids staying round during a transition.

    He is somewhat green and learning but is overal attitude is one of a "try-er". However his reactions outlined above are more of a "can't".

    Has anyone ever dealt with a similar situation? What did you do?

    His saddle was custom made for him -

  • #2
    Have the saddle check again. What kind is it? Ask the saddler to watch your horse being lunge with the saddle and being ridden by you.
    Is he being profesionnally trained? I would suggest you go see a pro trainer that could have a look at it and ride him a bit. Maybe you are having rider issues.

    You could also have your vet take a look at his back and teeth!
    Last edited by alibi_18; Oct. 8, 2010, 11:51 AM. Reason: Re-read your horse description and pictures would help!
    ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

    Originally posted by LauraKY
    I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
    HORSING mobile training app


    • #3
      Have you discussed this problem with the saddlemaker? Perhaps they can make an adjustment.

      For a horse with this "problem" (which I see as a positive -- a lifed round back is GOOD), a slight bridge while at a standstill allows space for the back to come up. So he might feel pressure points fore and aft while at rest, but will feel a consistent contact with the saddle in motion.


      • #4
        If you've checked the saddle with the fitter and it isn't a problem, I think it could be a rider issue and application of the aids, IMHO .

        In the transitions into walk, or into canter are you asking him to maintain a long neck, almost a stretchy trot head/neck position? Are you easing into the saddle into the trot transitions, or are you just flopping into the saddle? Are you grabbing him with the reins? When you are asking him to 'stay round into the canter, try asking ask before and after the transitions, not during the transitions.

        In the walk, be sure that you sitting there quietly allowing him walk...not pushing him along with your seat or tap tap tapping with your leg/spur with every step. Think tall in the saddle, lifting your rib cage, a long drapey leg.

        In the walk and in the canter are you asking him to keep his back up with some application of the inside leg at the girth? Think about maitaining a shoulder fore/shoulder in position in your transitions.

        Finally, I say this with some trepidation, but you don't mention his age...but has he every had his hock and or stifles injected?
        "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
        "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
        Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!


        • #5
          A good fitter will fit for the shape of your horse's back in motion.

          You could also consider softer flocking and/or a sheepskin pad - something to provide your boy something soft to fill in the areas when they are hollow, and give when they are lifted & filled in.

          Your horse sounds very nice.
          "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince


          • Original Poster

            The saddle maker/fitter was out this week and felt that while he had changed some, that the saddle didn't fit that badly, at rest. He is scheduled to come out next week after I have rideen without a saddle pad for the week to get some good sweat marks on the saddle so he knows what the whole story is.

            He has watched this horse go a few times. At this point, he feels that the issues are caused by a combination of lack of strength, training and yes, some saddle adjustments. However, he was leaning more towards things that didn't have anything to do with the saddle.

            I work with a professional trainer who has ridden my horse several times. While no one is perfect and I am sure that I am not aiding him 100% correctly all the time, she feels that the saddle is a major issue - that it is too tight in his shoulder and is very restricting of his movement. After a long evaluation of him this week, she was amazed at his back construction and the unusual/extreme action while in motion.

            I spent about two months ridng him bareback when we were on the saddle search and was amazed at how round, soft, responsive and exceptionally consistent he was through all of his gaits and transitions, without a saddle. I periodically ride him bareback for a little fun for both of us and notice how wonderful he still is without tack and how different he rides with his custom saddle.

            This horse is in his 8th year. He is somewhat behind in his training due to a year off with his prior owner due to a loss of interest, but makes an amazing effort to give his all during each ride.


            • Original Poster

              He has also been evaluated by a vet in the past six months and had his hocks done once in his life, which has helped a great deal in progressing with his training. He was not lame at all but when he was vetted for purchase, the examining vet recommended injections of his hocks only due to some narrowing in the joints/evidence of "wear and tear".


              • #8
                One really interesting thing to try is to use a saddle that's slightly too large for the horse (when standing) and then use a piece of memory foam between your pad and the saddle. This fills in any gaps, but compresses to fit the shape of the horse. It works REALLY well with younger horses who are hard to fit. I bought a twin sized memory foam mattress pad and then cut it up. I cut the pieces to match some half pad covers I had and then I stuffed them inside those. It had worked wonders on horses with issues. You just can't use it under saddles that are too tight. Only those that are slightly too wide.
                "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"


                • #9
                  When you took measurements for the custom saddle, did you do belly lifts so the fitter could see (and trace) what happens during work?


                  • #10
                    it really sounds like they fit your horse at rest and did not recognize just how much his back changes shape in motion. And now they are not wanting to acknowledge their fault in fitting. you will probably not get satisfaction. The saddle almost assuredly has a curved tree and you will find that you need a flatter tree. They can't fix this. Your best option is to sell the saddle and buy a new one (working with a different fitter) and make sure it fits well when he is in motion. The saddle will need to bridge a little at rest to leave room for his back to come up to meet hte saddle.

                    I have a mare with a very curvy back and she uses a flat tree for the same reason. I had several saddle fitters say there was no way that saddle could work for her until I showed them the sweat marks and they were amazed at just how much she lifts her back when worked correctly.

                    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but better to get rid of an ill fitting saddle now before your horse gets convinced that working properly "hurts" and no way iis he going to do it!


                    • Original Poster

                      No belly lifts were performed during the original fitting.

                      I was at a loss as to how to get a saddle to fit at rest and to fit in motion. Two replies have brought up the allowance of a bridge at rest to allow the back enough room while in motion.

                      I didn't know that this was something that was commonly implemented to accomodate a back - since we all read so much about the horrors of bridging.

                      Thanks for the input so far....I was running out of ideas.

                      All I knew is that the back in motion needs to be free!


                      • #12
                        I was at a loss as to how to get a saddle to fit at rest and to fit in motion. Two replies have brought up the allowance of a bridge at rest to allow the back enough room while in motion.
                        This is implicit in the recommedation that you ride with a clean,white saddle pad, work your horse hard enough to get a good sweat & then examine the pattern (take photos if you're doing a long distance saddle fit) with your saddle rep, fitter, trainer etc.
                        Some saddle companies will allow you to ride without a pad & examine the panels for sweat marks.
                        You also examine your horses back & shoulder for sweat vs dry areas.
                        If you watch the Schleese saddle fit videos, Jochen goes through this process in considerable detail.

                        Some horses really lift their backs while in motion, others do not - alot depends on training & ridership. Most horses have dynamic backs which is why someone riding at high levels will have saddle fit checked frequently (many fitters suggest 3 month assessments).

                        You can also use a Port Lewis Impression pad to assess saddle fit (there is a nice description on Fine Used Saddles http://www.fine-used-saddles.com/cat...Iit=253&Ict=57) - some retailers also rent this pad.


                        • #13
                          what does he do when you ride bareback?
                          Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                          • #14
                            Try contacting Sarah Odell.

                            She fits English saddles like Dave Genadek fits western saddles - takes pressure off the shoulder and puts the weight bearing area MOSTLY right under the seat.

                            Her email is

                            soundsaddles at me dot com


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
                              Have the saddle check again. What kind is it? Ask the saddler to watch your horse being lunge with the saddle and being ridden by you.
                              Is he being profesionnally trained? I would suggest you go see a pro trainer that could have a look at it and ride him a bit. Maybe you are having rider issues.

                              You could also have your vet take a look at his back and teeth!
                              This is what my saddler asked ME to do last time he evaluated the saddle fit. Initially it didn't look like it fit - but once my big butt was in the saddle it fit like a glove.
                              Now in Kentucky


                              • #16
                                It sounds like you are right in your personal diagnosis that the saddle is too tight over the withers and probably too long for his back. It should not sit beyond the saddle support area (which ends at the last rib, which is easy to find because the hair comes in at this point from two different directions.) I second the suggestion to watch the Schleese YouTube videos on self assessment for proper saddle fit - especially the ones about tree angle/width and saddle length.