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Wavy hair/Treeless saddle

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  • Wavy hair/Treeless saddle

    I have been riding in a Bob Marshall endurance model for three years now, with Skito pad with shoulder shims. I use a mohair cinch, no back cinch, and a beta breastcollar on trail rides. I love the saddle and the horse seems fine with it (although he seems to tolerate poor saddle fit as the first saddle we had did not fit him, back when I was ignorant about those things). However, he has wavy hair on his withers, and I'm not sure if it's caused by the saddle or if it's just him. Last spring when he was shedding out he was somewhat wavy in other spots as well (someone asked me if he was a Curly). I wish I had documented when this first started and if it changed month to month, but I do know he has had the wavy hair on the withers permanently since last fall, if not sooner. He has only been ridden in lessons for 10 weeks this winter, so he was ridden into November or early December and then the lessons started in January. Lessons were 1/week for approx 2 hours, although we had a week off here and there due to weather.

    He is a 17 year old Morab (3/4 Arab) with a decent wither. I weigh about 120#. Anything else you need to knw? (I know someone will want photos, and I have a heck of a time posting photos, but maybe I can do it using my phone, or maybe FB.)

    So is it likely that the saddle is moving forward and back on his withers? There are no white spots, he does not seem sore, he took both leads in lessons this winter (he tends to lope quite fast unless we are doing circles, but I think that's just him). I have ridden in SD twice in that saddle on 8+ hour rides, and for 5days at a time and he seemed fine.

    I am planning on taking him for a fitting to Cordia Pearson, and I know she will likely be anti-treeless. I am fine with getting something else if it's in the budget because I would keep the BM for my older hard-to-fit wide out of shape mare. But I do like the BM. My seatbones take a beating in Western saddles, do okay in English saddles, and love the BM.

    I'm curious to see what the fitter will say about the wavy hair and my choice of treeless.

  • #2
    I think you need to be more specific. Is the hair wet after being ridden? Is it longer than other hair on the horse? Is it waved against the typical growth direction (meaning bent backwards from the direction the rest of the hair near the withers is laying)? Can you see, while you're riding, the saddle shifting forward at any time - moving forward onto the withers?

    At 17 he is most probably just starting to develop the onset of (what I call) "age related hair" - when the hair on the face, withers, neck, rear, belly, gets longer, curlier, and doesn't shed out as quickly as when he was younger.

    If his back and withers aren't sore, there are no bald spots or hair loss occurring, and your saddle stays in place without riding up his neck, I wouldn't worry about it unless you physically see something is happening...especially if you like your BM.

    I have an inherent distrust with saddle fitters - I've had far too many tell me things are grand when they weren't. Listen to your horse - if he's happy with your BM, stick with it. It's when the saddle doesn't fit the rider that all sorts of unhappy things happen - both to the horse's back, and the rider's attitude.


    • Original Poster


      Hopefully those work. He hasn't been ridden for over a week. The saddle doesn't seem to slip up on his neck, even when we did the hillier stuff out west. My concern is if the saddle is shimmying around, but you would think that much movement would remove hair over time.


      • #4
        That looks like regular sweat marks to me-it matches his neck where he sweated. It's not even scruffy, it's just wavy. IMO, you're good.
        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


        • #5
          I agree - his neck hair looks wavy too, and there's no saddle there, right?


          • Original Poster

            Those were taken just out in the paddock. He wasn't ridden just prior to those being taken. But that's what it looks like after removing the saddle, except sometimes sweaty. I was just worried if some movement of the saddle had permanently waved his hair. I hope I'm fine because I love that saddle and it wasn't cheap!

            And the fitter we might see is more for my husband's horse. I just thought maybe I would have her check the two other cheapo treed saddles I also use on my gelding.

            The fitter is very good, but I wish so many of them weren't against treeless. I get the whole point about the tree distributing weight, but with so many trail and endurance riders successfully going treeless, you think they'd be more open-minded. But that's a whole other topic to bash around endlessly.


            • #7
              Long winter hair will do that when the horse gets warm while being ridden.