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More saddle/horse advice needed pls :( Sorry, long

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  • More saddle/horse advice needed pls :( Sorry, long

    Well I feel like I'm finally starting to make some progress, but it's been pretty gruelling for me and my guy. I'm having some issues with saddles/fit, and my coach is away for a few weeks and I figured where better than CoTH for some direction!

    My TB is a shorter moving guy, and holds most of his tension in his back and just in front of the wither. When he gets stressed, his response is to tighten, shorten and invert, and basically move in place. Very uncomfortable, very ugly. He also has NO lengthen yet he just shortens and speeds up. We are working on very soft, easy laterals at the walk, doing a few steps and then moving on before he can get tight and stressed. I decided to hack the other day and borrowed my BO's dressage saddle just for fun. After our hack, I did some easy flatwork and the horse was totally different! Soft, no sign of the tension or up and down trot, and his trot was a lot less...short.

    I know what you're going to say - saddle fit, which is exactly what I thought too. Fitter was out not even 2 months ago and assessed fit of new custom (wool) panels made for my French saddle. Saddle fits him like a glove, and nothing has really changed shapewise for him. I tried a few other CC saddles and it seems that he doesn't like the forward flap interfering with his shoulder and goes better in a dressage saddle or best of all with no saddle. This is mildly problematic. I can't afford a new saddle, and I'm not good enough in the dressage saddle to ride in it full time yet...Also, it's not even mine! This is a pretty new issue, I've owned him for quite some time and I've ever had him react this way before!

    So riding in my CC saddle, he starts off tight and short, but after a good warm up (20 mins) will move out well. For the first bit I can't take much contact or it backs him off, and after the canter is usually when he really starts to reach into the contact. My warm ups are usually a lot of shapes, changes of direction, and staying light on his back and face. I still haven't figured out how to sit trot nicely for longer than 10 steps so I don't do any sitting trot.

    I guess I'm not sure where I need to go from here in terms of saddles, he seems to react similarly in the different CC saddles I've put on him (4 so far) to varying degrees. The worse they fit him, the shorter he goes in front. BTW, this is also the same horse who went around with a saddle that bridged (unbeknownst to me!) for 3 YEARS without a peep of complaint and not a bad step taken. Now, if the saddle pad has a wrinkle, the whole world knows about it.

    I can't do the whole saddle fit dealie again... I spent the batter part of a year trying to find one that fit us both that was in my (nonexistent) budget, and finally wound up paying to have my saddle converted from foam to wool. I can't afford to go through that emotional and financial rollercoaster again I'm really hoping I can get some input on what you guys think, thanks in adance

  • #2
    In reading your note it sounds like you did a relaxing hack in the dressage saddle *before* doing any real work? If that's the case then maybe there isn't a huge difference between the way your horse reacts with the dressage vs the CC. It sounds like for the CC he was to do a warm up before he feels like he's not tight.

    Have you tried riding in the dressage saddle without a warmup? What happens then?

    If it's any consolation I've been through the same thing with my mare. I rode her for 3-4 months in a saddle that didn't fit her well. Then finally realized it didn't and started trying things. Now if there is any issue with the fit she will fuss. I suppose that's better than being sore for months or years. lol. but it does make it difficult when it comes to shopping. I hate it! Finding a good saddle is like dating. I feel like I've dated every @$$hat in a 100 mile radius and same with saddles.

    Maybe consider getting a synthetic like Thorowgood. I've had a lot of success with that for my high withered TB. It's something to tide me over until I find a leather saddle that fits both her and myself.


    • #3
      I know it is the pits, but try saddles until you find one that fits. Then find one used.

      What brand was the dressage saddle? Look for a used one to try. OR something similar!

      Life is too short for shoes and saddles that don't fit.
      “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
      ? Albert Einstein


      • #4
        Originally posted by horsefaerie View Post
        I know it is the pits, but try saddles until you find one that fits. Then find one used.

        What brand was the dressage saddle? Look for a used one to try. OR something similar!

        Life is too short for shoes and saddles that don't fit.

        I was lucky that when I got my horse someone at the barn had an Ovation her horse had outgrown which fit my horse wonderfully. Now he's developed a mondo topline compared to what he had and it doesn't fit him, so we've moved on to a used Stubben I got for a great price from a fellow COTH poster. He made it clear the saddle wasn't fitting right before there was anything visible to human checks (even including sweat pattern tests) so I started looking before I even knew what was wrong with the old saddle. He's thrilled with the Stubben, so that's what we're going with for now. The vet/chiro I use has known my (9 year old) horse since he was 3, and told me based on his development he expects me to go through 4-5 saddles on him throughout our career together as he continues changing shape. That's a LOT and I'm just accepting that it's worth it for comfort.

        Oh, and you don't realize how much a saddle which no longer fits perfectly affects your riding... until you ride in one which fits the horse well. My Ovation is still fabulous on my mom's horse, but I was starting to feel like a teeter totter in it on my horse, which I didn't realize until I rode in a saddle which fit him well.
        Originally posted by Silverbridge
        If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.


        • Original Poster

          Tried the dressage saddle again today with no warmup hack - he was 80% better than in the CC I think he will always need a long-ish warmup and that's ok with me.

          The saddle I'm borrowing is an older Passier, however it bruises the insides of my knees somehow (I think I'm too tall for it!). I have a County dressage to try next. I am hesitant to buy a dressage saddle I like as I`m new to it, and already have a dressage saddle that doesn`t fit me that is for sale.

          Strangely, the sweat patterns on the CC are perfect, and I can`t detect any tight spots when I run my hands underneath. He`s not sore to palpate (before we fixed his back, any pressure would cause his knees to buckle) and I ride with only a thin pad as per the fitter`s instructions. The saddle fits me perfectly and is one of the few saddles that doesn`t aggravate my hips or back.



          • #6
            Well the good news is that older passiers are cheap as chips, and you may well be able to find one in a flap configuration that is more to your liking--you probably would prefer a slightly more forward cut if you are used to riding in a cc.

            Now, when he gets cranky about your cc are you riding with a longer stirrup and sitting down in it, like you would in a dressage saddle, vs doing a lot more forward seat and even 2 point work? If so, that may be the root of your problem-- the panels just aren't designed for that kind of seat, and you could be creating a pressure spot that he is finding uncomfortable.

            Horses... They'll drive you crazy if you let them...