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Saddle for the very round AND asymmetrical youngster

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  • Saddle for the very round AND asymmetrical youngster

    I am currently breaking my 4 year old Trak/Hanoverian cross gelding and am having a blast riding him. He's only 15.2 but built like a brick *poop* house, round as a barrel with almost zero withers (maybe I can palpate them if I push really hard?). He's super compact and powerful- everything I had hoped he would be and so much more. And yet, we're having this terrible saddle issue that I can't seem to fix. I have been working with Trumbull Mtn. to find a wide saddle that fits, and have found multiple saddles (x-wide Hoop tree for Mr. Pudgy Pants) that seem alright in the width, but they ALL shift to the right. I've done shim pads in every combination imaginable and still can't get a saddle to sit straight on this guy. His shoulders are a little asymmetrical when viewed from above (if I stand on a stool behind his tush). So I'm wondering if the wisdom of COTH can help in this situation. Any advice on how to keep a saddle straight on this super round and very big moving youngster? It's making me insane!!!

  • #2
    My mare isn't asymmetrical, but everything slips side to side on her. I found the Niedersuss Olympik (has a front point billet, the easier to find symphonies do not) fit her perfect, didnt slide, she has no withers and is very round, the wide was wide enough for her. It sadly did not work for me, but it's the first saddle i put on her that didnt move anywhere.

    Otherwise, you are probably going to have to have the saddle custom stuffed for him and restuff every few-6 months as his body changes with more work. I like Flair panels for horses like this, i can adjust them myself. You can have flair put in any saddle by a flair fitter, it used to be $400, but it may have changed, that was a good 8-10yrs ago that i've had one done. That would probably be the cheapest route rather than having it restuffed so often.

    ETA: a friend of mine had an arab/saddlebred that was wide and asymmetrical, Schleese worked with her, made them a custom saddle, worked super. He never built up his low side, but he went very far with her in that saddle.
    Your Horse's Home On The Road!


    • #3
      If not already done, I would have him check by a good vet to see why this youngster is going asymetrical. Then, I would or would ask my trainer for a precise working/training plan that would help correcting that problem asap. And then, I would have a professional fitter look at your horse.

      There is good and bad sides to shims, especially when in growing phase. You'll have to be really carefull because the shims will need to be changed frequently to make sure they are not pressuring your horse's back/wither as he grows more symetrical.
      ~ 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


      • Original Poster

        I forgot to say that he has been checked by a great lameness vet and chiropractor, and both have found no reason for his asymmetry. I am trying to correct the asymmetry through correct riding as instructed by my vet who is also a dressage trainer, but it is very hard to ride him correctly and muscle up the right side when I am sitting crooked. I try to stay balanced, and end up sitting nearly on top of the left stirrup bar as the saddle creeps right and I stay centered. It's a nightmare, especially on a very wiggly and sensitive youngster.

        I am hesitant about shims, and have been completely unsuccessful with them for preventing the sliding. I am working with a saddle fitter, but she is hesitant to stuff my saddle that much on the one side, since she says it will be difficult to ever get it straight again as the panel will stretch. Since he is going to be changing a lot in the near future (hopefully for the better and not any rounder!), she thinks that shims are my best temporary solution, but they're not working and I'm pulling my hair out!


        • #5
          Maybe giving him a month or two of lunging/long reining/in-hand training? Until he gets a bit more straight?

          Horses that I have seen asymetrical usually had a lower haunche...or some sort of shorter hing leg...

          This is not a judgement and I don't know your riding skills at all but, are you sure that you are yourself straight in the saddle? If not all the time, maybe you could have your trainer or a 'pro' ride him?
          ~ 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


          • #6
            strange and tricky situation. the suggestion about flair is probably your best bet. You could always look into a WOW saddle, or in the UK there is a flair-type bladder saddle pad that can be adjusted per ride too.

            I also have had tremendous luck using a suber pad, google it, its neat. Trumbull might be able to offer you suggestions further regarding it.

            I too hate shimming, its never worked for me and I have round horses too, perhaps thats why. But, having said that, I have a lovely leather thorowgood saddle that has a feature where you can drop the panel and shim with prolite panels (or felt, etc) between the saddle and panel. Its more like custom stuffing without ruining the wool panel. Thorowgood spun off their 'luxury' leather line to a new company, Fairfax, http://www.fairfaxsaddles.co.uk/

            Dutchess in NY is an importer and I'm sure can answer questions for you, http://www.dutchessbridlesaddle.com/...311&dispcat=81 there is a person who posts here that got one for her very hard to fit wide mare and she claims to love the saddle. I know that I adore my TG L4. Love the adjustable billets too, amazing how much it changes the fit.

            BTW, on the subject of billets, do be sure they are hanging in the right place for your horse's conformation, and that the girth is appropriate for his conformation too. That can make or break a tricky fit. I have a dressage saddle with 4 billets per side, yes 4. Its designed for the roly poly ones with huge shoulders. Being able to choose which billets helps enormously. Turns out point billets are not as suitable as I thought for my horse.

            Finally, since you've had the horse checked out thoroughly, perhaps consider a high quality treeless? That would theoretically work, and perhaps save you treed saddle woes as he changes shape, especially a treed saddle impinging on his returning to evenness. And they can be quite pleasant and secure to ride.

            If it were my horse, I'd probably be getting a fresh set of eyes to look at his feet. If there is an asymmetrical way of going often good eyes can find clues in the foot. Just imho.

            good luck!
            Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


            • #7
              My experience with the Flair (and WOW saddle) wasn't successful, I had to return it. (It was quite a beautiful saddle though and the makers are very nice.) I was trying to fit a very asymmetrical (one shoulder several inches farther forward than the other) shark-withered TB.
              What did work was a used Custom Saddlery saddle fitted to him and one side stuffed more than the other.

              Also try different girths -- I have much more luck keeping well fitting saddles stable on my roundish young mare with a Prestige anatomic girth than i had with a Wintec, Prof. Choice, and Mattes Fleece girth. Again we're working with Custom Saddlery (and a Wolfgang Solo) for her.
              "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for the recommendations so far. The Fairfax saddles look very nice! I sat in the Thorogood and liked it except that there was a seam under my thigh that pinched in every model I tried. I'm hoping the leather version would not do this. Definitely worth a try!

                I can't find any info about the suber pads- any chance you have a link to them?

                I was worried that it was me being crooked (although I've never had this problem on any other horse), so I had my trainer get on and the saddle slid just as much with her. I have been lunging and long lining with side reins for the past two months, and although the asymmetry is improving, it is still very much a saddle fitting issue. If I longe him with the saddle on, within two circles in either direction, the saddle has already visibly shifted right.

                I am using a County Logic girth on him as he has a forward girth groove and that does seem to give the most stability.

                Interesting you said something about his feet- my farrier did say that the left hind hoof is slightly larger than the right, showing that he has probably been using that side a little more since birth. But what can one do about that?

                Thanks again for the help so far!


                • #9
                  [quote=feuerkracher;5397084] He's only 15.2 but built like a brick *poop* house...quote]

                  I just thought I would point out that at this time, the COTH word for this is "poody". (from the mind of one of the most favored obfuscators of COTH discovery in the history of our board http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...dy#post5378676 )

                  Meanwhile, I wish you luck scouring the planet for a great saddle. It ain't easy sorting through the 'poody' to find the gems.
                  Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


                  • #10
                    here is about the suber pad: http://copperbeechusa.com/index_files/suberpad.htm its basically a beanbag for your horse's back. The bag is filled with tiny cork granules from the 'suber' tree, hence the name. The cork never compresses and is soft, springy and light. Also circulates a lot of air. Yes, some people do actually flock saddles with suber, and Heather Moffett offers some of her treeless with suber panels.

                    I had marvelous results with mine. My horse was super happy with it under a treeless too. Only trick is you have to have a saddle that wide enough/too wide for your horse to have it work. Everytime I used that pad my horse outgrew the saddle. The pad is very thick at first, but settles down to half its size. For the first few minutes you do feel like you're riding on a stack of pillows but over the course of 15 min warmup you find you have to tighten your girth 3x and then you no longer notice it.

                    I would be super hesitant to flock a saddle asymmetrically for a horse that is in the process of correcting himself. Think about if, if you put a wedge in your shoe to correct your foot, would your body ever learn to do it on its own?

                    the way a horse travels is generally reflected in the feet, its just a mirror to whats going on above. It might mean he's moving a little asymmetrically which would better explain the uneven development of his muscles. I would discuss it further with your farrier.
                    Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
                      If not already done, I would have him check by a good vet to see why this youngster is going asymetrical. Then, I would or would ask my trainer for a precise working/training plan that would help correcting that problem asap. And then, I would have a professional fitter look at your horse.
                      Every horse is asymmetrical to an extent, as are people. it may be that your bad side and his bad side are the same side, thus exacerbating the issue.
                      Take the stirrup off the side you sink down into and ride posting trot with only one stirrup for a few weeks to teach you to stretch down on the correct side. then swap the concept for a few rides then go back to both stirrups.
                      just because it doesnt happen on other horses does not mean you are not a large part of the problem for this guy.
                      chaque pas est fait ensemble


                      • Original Poster

                        I have already tried riding without a stirrup and without both stirrups, and the saddle still slides right regardless. It slides after a couple circles on the longe line without a rider, and if I haven't girthed him up really tightly before we leave the crossties and walk 40 feet to the indoor, it will have already slid just walking that short distance in a straight line. He's not THAT crooked, but I think combining asymmetry with his very circular shape and lack of withers, it's greatly exaggerated in saddle fitting because he has nothing to stabilize a saddle. Many horses are asymmetrical and their owners rarely even notice because they have enough of an "A" shape and wither that their saddles don't move.

                        The Suber Pad looks "suber" cool. I am going to chat with the ladies at Trumbull Mtn. today to see if it's an option. Unfortunately, he is so stinking wide, that even the widest xw hoop tree saddles are just fitting him, so I'm not sure there will be room for the suber pad. I don't have room for a sheepskin pad, and placing the thinline pad with shims under most of the saddles makes them too snug.

                        This horse is perfect in every way except for this saddle sliding issue, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much, but I don't want my fancy pants youngster to live a life as a pasture ornament because I can't get a saddle to stay straight on him. And I constantly worry about riding him in a crooked saddle and how that is going to hinder our progress at trying to build him up to be straighter.

                        Any suggestions on brands of saddles that are REALLY wide? He definitely needs a hoop tree as his shoulders are huge and XW in normal trees won't even sit down onto his shoulders. I've tried every "fat horse" saddle at Trumbull and they're all *just* fitting him. I'd like to have something that gives room for a little adjustment and the potential for him to grow a little. If that right shoulder/wither fills out to be equal with the left, all of the saddles that I have tried will be too tight. What saddles fit the truly barrel shaped horse??? I'm definitely going to talk to them about the Fairfax saddles, but are there any others that you wise COTH'ers can recommend?

                        And thanks for the COTH grammar lesson- this situation is quite "poody." (was that the correct usage?)


                        • #13
                          I have an Arab who is super wide through the shoulders, with almost no wither, and I've had excellent luck (after a LOT of trial and mostly error...) with Smith Worthington. They can adjust their trees substantially, so you can get it re-sized as he changes. I bought my saddles directly from them, and had them adjusted through wither tracings. I don't have any experience with the asymmetrical issue though, so that may change what you need.

                          FYI - I did go with a treeless for a few years (Ansur) and was reasonably happy with it when I was starting my youngster. It definitely solved the "fit the huge shoulders and no withers" issue, but I'm very happy to be back in a treed saddle now, with better lateral stability. I had some trouble with side to side movement of the saddle (althought it well could have been me), so I'd be a bit skeptical of how it would work for your specific situation, but it might be worth a try.

                          Good luck!


                          • #14
                            My goodness, just how wide is your horse? Your legs must stick completely out to the sides when riding him

                            Off the rack
                            , I think duett, black country, balance, thornhill, comfort and prestige are about as wide as wide can be. Thorowgood does have an XXW gullet in 'broadback/cob' shape aka complete U shape. I have seen some incredibly wide kieffers, passiers, countys and barnsbys too, but they were older.

                            this was an XW black country I had once: http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c5...easeplease.jpg

                            it was too wide for my boy, too wide including the suber pad:

                            The saddles that ended up fitting my horse best were a Comfort Saddle, Hulsebos, Ludomar and Lauriche.

                            Saddle Exchange makes Comfort and Native Pony saddles, for the barrels with legs. I have a Comfort Grand Prix, iirc its just a wide but its huge. I'll see if I can find a photo of it.

                            a person who used to post here used to talk of her incredibly wide stallion, and she found a an old xxw passier that suited him.

                            Smith Worthington is fabulous suggestion too.
                            Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                            • #15
                              As you probably already know warmbloods withers and shoulders sometimes continue to grow until they are 7 yrs old. You may need to change saddles or have flocking removed to accomadate shoulder and wither growth.
                              We have a mare whose back muscling was asymetrical when she was 4 yrs old and starting her dressage training. We tried many different saddles and finally had success with the County Connections and Fusions etc. The County rep had to add flocking to the side that she was lacking muscle so that the saddle could sit down on her back. The County saddles were the only ones we could find that didn't bridge. They sat down on her withers and allowed her shoulders to swing freely.It's also really nice to have the help of an experianced saddle-fitter who can bring several saddles and measure and evaluate your horse while its moving etc. People mistakenly think that the saddle fitter is just out to sell you an expensive saddle. I was able to buy a demo saddle from the County rep at a really good price because she had a car FULL of used saddles.
                              Good luck,your youngsters sounds nice.!!


                              • #16
                                I have a young Grand Prix horse who, through his whole development, has always built muscle faster on the left than on the right. No idea why, no veterinary concerns, just the way God (and my training, I suppose!) made him. I have one of these - http://advancedsaddlefit.com/store/s...lti-riser-pad/ - and for maybe two weeks out of every six months or so, I add shims to the right side of the pad. He develops on the right, I take the shims out, and we're cooking again for months.

                                It's a great pad to have around the barn for growing horses, too, as those kids can't seem to stay the same shape for more than five minutes!
                                spriesersporthorse.com | farm on Facebook | me on Facebook | blog


                                • #17
                                  Have you looked at the WOW saddles? I know another poster here didnt like them and i'm sure not saying they work for everyone, what saddle does. But those suckers have a SUPER wide head plate available, plus several assortments of panels that work on wider backs, and the option of Flair to adjust one side a bit bigger to help the slipping and slowly reduce it out until he's more even side to side... It's expensive, but long term may last you forever... Not to mention, the sucker is modular, if he does outgrow the panels he started in, you can get new ones and screw them in yourself. Want to take up jumping? No problem, buy jumping flaps and screw those in instead... So many options on those saddles it makes your head spin.


                                  And specifically, all the headplateds/widths available : http://www.fteltd.co.uk/wow/wowfitting.htm

                                  I LOVED mine and while i had it, i should have been a WOW dealer, every single person that sat in it now owns one (for a total of 6 people), and one of those people bought mine too as an extra when i decided to sadly part with it. If i could afford it, i would be getting another one.

                                  Kieffer's can be widened to super duper wide as can prestige. I cant imagine something in either of those lines not being able to be adjusted to fit the width. Duetts were developed for horses like this. Can you comfortably ride him when he's done growing is my question!

                                  Now, i love my treeless saddle as well, but it will not stay stable side to side on my cob and i've given up trying. You may find the same problem with the treeless if you try it, but it might be worth at least trying.

                                  I had the same discomfort with the thorowgoods! I love the look of their leather line, but i dont think i could ride in it very long.

                                  One foot bigger than the other is surely a clear sign to me. Does that big foot come with a longer/shorter leg? Is the opposite leg longer/shorter? Something there is causing that side to not be used to it's fullest.

                                  I once had a saddle seat horse that was severely clubby on his front right. So much so the front right shoulder was practically non-existent if looking at him from above. I had to ride with my right stirrup shorter by 2 holes and pad the crap out of him. Thankfully, he had a wither from hell that held the tack in place... But for sure one foot being different can totally change the way the horse muscles up even if you cant really physically see any difference in the strides. No one ever noticed my NSH moving funky, with the help of an excellent farrier, no one really noticed the club foot unless staring at it for a few minutes...

                                  Good luck. I've decided from now on when i buy a horse, if it is not easy to fit, i'm not buying it, regardless of how much i like it. It's a nightmare to find THE saddle.
                                  Your Horse's Home On The Road!


                                  • #18
                                    When my mare lacked wither muscle on right I used a thinline pad to prevent saddle from slipping and a pad with shims under front/right side of the saddle to make her "even" until I could build-up the muscle on that side.
                                    Now in Kentucky


                                    • #19
                                      The Fairfax fits the barrel. The Barnsby grip pad has grippy material underneath and on top. It helps.
                                      The aids are the legs, the hands, the weight of the rider, the whip, the caress, the voice and the use of extraneous circumstances. ~ General Decarpentry


                                      • #20
                                        Hi, Feuer!

                                        I feel your pain. I have 2, now 3, horses that are rather mutton withered, wide, with long, laid back, sloping shoulders. I tried 20-30 saddles for my first 2 horses, everything slipped on them, some worse than others. My problem was that usually the saddle wasn't wide enough in front, and the panels were too full/stuffed where they met the withers. The saddles slipped to the side because the shoulders were underneath the front of the saddle, so every time the shoulder went back, forward, back, the saddle would move. I finally had a Schleese Triumph made for my guys, with the wither relief panels, and the saddle doesn't slip forward up onto the shoulder, and it doesn't move side to side, it stays put and my horses now move so much better and their shoulders have really freed up. Perhaps Schleese would have a used saddle that could be adapted to your boy, if you stay firm and don't let them pitch you on a custom. They could address the uneveness in his shoulders with flocking, and later on if he gets more symetrical, it could again be adjusted to fit correctly.

                                        It's certainly not easy to fit these big moving horses without prominent withers! I also bought a Lovatt and Ricketts Ellipse for my 4th horse who was actually a bit wider up top, but then was more narrow further down the shoulders, and her back wasn't as table top flat. Unfortunately, I lost that 5 year old mare to colic about a month ago...

                                        If you pm me, I can send you pics of the saddles that work for my guys that are built like that.