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New saddle still doesn't fit...what now?

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  • New saddle still doesn't fit...what now?

    So, after much debate and window shopping for my hard to fit horse, I bought a Wintec dressage saddle with CAIR panels and interchangeable gullets. But.....no matter what gullet I use, he STILL has dry spots right behind his withers, in the same general area where the white hairs came in thanks to the barrel saddle he wore last season. AGH! He was never sore last year, and always vetted well. Am I going to go through the same thing this year, and just create more white hairs? And how do I explain this to the vets? White hairs are bad, right? I'm at a loss. Should I try a different pad? I know you're not supposed to need one with the CAIR panels, but at this point I'm willing to try anything. I custom saddle is not an option. I own two horses, therefore, I have no money. Any advice would be appreciated at this point.

  • #2
    What size gullet plate do you have in the Wintec saddle? What are you using for a saddle pad? Any pictures of the horse and saddle? Your horse is an Arab with high withers? You are going to need some shims or extra padding in the hollow area behind the withers. When you place the saddle on the horse without the pad, does one end of the saddle sit higher then the other. No trying to insult you just need more info before I can offer suggestions.


    • #3
      I have an arab with the high withers, hollows below the withers and big shoulders.
      I got a used Crosby Olympia which is the precursor to the Softride. It was $400 on Ebay. I then had a saddler come out and put in a shim in the middle to help with the bridging. She also emphasized that the saddle has to go behind the scapula- which is farther back than I tend to want to put a saddle.

      I do have a riser pad that I no longer need if you want to try it. It has the lift part in the front to fill either side of the withers. Let me know and I can ship it to you. I will even pay the shipping if you agree to then donate the amount of the shipping to an animal charity or rescue- other than PETA or HSUS. It is basically this pad in white
      Let me know if you are interested in the pad.
      Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


      • #4
        I feel your pain

        I too have an Arab with high withers and a scoopy back and round barrel. The Wintecs did not work for us. The folks at Trumbull Mountain in Vermont are very good at recommending what would work (you'll need something with upswept panels and withers gussets), and have seen alot of horse's backs. They might be able to help. On other threads, I've seen people with this type of horse recommend County saddles and Thornhill saddles. I have a Stuebben custom-fitted to my horse, and it's not bad. Not perfect, but not bad. As she builds topline muscle, the saddle has a hard time keeping up, despite refittings. I hear older Keiffers may also be good. Yesterday I demo'ed a Startrekk semi-tree saddle, and I could definitely feel a few more seconds of "air" in my horse's trot -- but the saddle did not work at all for me.

        Probably the route to take is to demo a few saddles that Trumbull (or someone else you trust) recommends, and then try to find that saddle used. You'll still have to have a saddle fitter come out and tweak the flocking, regardless.

        Saddle-fitting is just a long, painful journey, I think. Good luck! Let us know if you find "it!"


        • #5
          I use the Wintec with CAIR panels and wide gullet for my Arab mare but only for dressage work in the arena. I don't think it works well on the trail, especially not for long distances. It's not made for that and I really can't recommend it. But obviously that's a personal choice and if it works for your horse, and you find it comfortable as well, then maybe you can work something out with risers and shims.

          For endurance I use the Frank Baines Enduro and I absolutely love it. I got a good deal on a once-used demo (it was still expensive...) but at least now I'm done with the painful process that is saddle fitting (knock on wood...)

          I worked with a saddlefitter and can highly recommend it. My right side is stronger than my left and my mare is slightly more filled out behind the withers on the right (I couldn't even tell) so she adjusted the flocking accordingly and really customized the saddle for us.

          I think you should work with a professional - they see what we don't and have had their hands on tons of saddles. (Btw, she does not like the CAIR panels in my Wintec saddle...)


          • Original Poster

            The horse is a 7 yr old QH, 15.3, narrow and lanky, with moderately high withers. I tried the black gullet, and it left small dry spots, just like my barrel saddle did. I tried the next size up, the blue one, and his whole back was dry, except for a small area at the very rear of the saddle. Possible bridging? I'm very petite, so I don't see how my weight/riding could be causing it. I've always thought that dry spots were caused by pinching and a subsequent lack of circulation. Odd, because this is a pretty narrow horse. Maybe I'll try a shim in the front to "fill in" the dry areas. The saddle sits on his back correctly, with no rocking. I'm going to use my old mare's rear riser pad tonight, just to see what it does.


            • #7
              It's almost impossible to judge from a distance. Hence my advice to work with a professional saddlefitter. You will save a lot of energy and money in the long run because this person will figure it out for you, no more guessing on your part.

              Also, but I'm sure you know that, in order to get a good "reading" from the sweat pattern, your horse must have gotten a serious workout first so that the back is completely sweaty everywhere. Otherwise you don't know if you're looking at true problem zones or just a half-sweaty horse, do you know what I mean?
              If you see dry spots on an otherwise wet back, those are most likely caused by problematic pressure points. Also look for wavy/ruffled hair, that's not good either. And take into consideration what kind of pad you use. You want to rule that out as a cause and make sure you're reading the saddle.

              But again, you really should ask a professional.


              • #8
                Have you considered treeless? Many treeless saddle dealers will allow you to demo their saddles for free...just pay shipping. I demoed and purchased my Sensation Hybrid treeless saddle from Melissa at www.freedomtreeless.com. She was great to work with and my saddle is by far the most comfortable, secure saddle I've ever sat in. My horses love it too. No soreness, no dry spots, they move better and more relaxed. Melissa competes on her spotted walking horse mare in CTR and has over 4000 miles on her Sensation English Trail model and has always vetted well in competition, she was top in her region last year. If you want something to compete in that will be good for you and your horse consider the Sensation treeless saddles. I know I sound like a commercial but I have one and won't ever go back to a treed saddle.
                "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


                • #9
                  Many of the Wintec CAIR saddles (if not all) have some adjustability. There is a "pocket" for lack of a better term that can be stuffed with wool to improve fit.

                  Now, that may not be enough to make it work for your horse but it's worth a look.
                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                  • Original Poster

                    Didn't know that about the CAIR panels. Today I put the med. gullet back in and used a quilted leg wrap as a "half pad". He was a bit sore along the top of his spine, probably from the too wide gullet of our last ride. After today's ride, the dry spots looked much smaller/were barely even there. Now I'm thinking a good half pad might do the trick, with a light shim in the front. (I had doubled the "pad" in the front)


                    • #11
                      I forgot to mention this tool:

                      It's the Wintec gullet gauge and could have told you easily which size gullet to use. I borrowed this gauge from our local tack shop and then ordered the correct size for us.

                      However, this may not necessarily take care of all your fitting issues as gullet size is only part of the equation.


                      • #12
                        I would suggest you take the wintec to a pro saddle fitter and have it custom flocked with wool.

                        If not you will still be doing the saddle dance.

                        I would also suggest you take your horse to a chiro for a check/adjustment to make sure the horse is moving correctly and straight.

                        Those are fairly inexpensive fixes and no new saddle.

                        Air of the CAIR are not the best in protection. Any uneveness and the air goes to another location, thus you could be sitting crooked, or the horses back is sore and moves and carries himself crooked.

                        It is the princess and the pea with regards to special pads. Pads don't always fit, but they do play one on television.

                        Get a saddle fitter to fix your saddle.

                        I have ridden english since the mid 80's, and YES endurance.
                        Good luck and hit those trails!


                        • Original Poster

                          I did use the gullet gauge first, and he was somewhere between the black and the blue. I agree that the CAIR is good, but it seems to "move" to other areas and not be very consistent over the whole back when you have a problem. A friend just had a saddle fitter out for her endurance horse. I'm going to talk to her this weekend and maybe schedule an appointment. I suspect he'll be okay with the black gullet, he just needs a pad with firmer support. We'll see....


                          • #14
                            This is why I eventually gave up on treed saddles all together and own a Bob Marshall endurance saddle. No matter what tree, what width, what kind of pad - I always had dry spots and white hairs coming in. I used a saddle fitter who thought my saddle fit perfectly, and I rode in it for a whole season until that fall when the winter coat came in, two huge white patches the size of baseballs came in with it. Ugh.

                            I switched to treeless a few years ago and have never looked back. Good luck finding a saddle that fits, but if you never do get a good solution, don't be surprised. So many people are switching to treeless for their hard to fit horses.

                            If I had it to do all over again, I would have not make my horses go through 2-3 years of saddle fitting hell, waiting to see how long they could use such-n-such tree before getting sore. I was listening to the advice of a saddle fitter telling me if we just reflock this or tweak that, it will work fine. I should have switched to treeless right away.


                            • Original Poster

                              Success at last! I bought a Fleeceworks wool dressage pad, with a single ply insert, and it seems to do the trick. Two hours over hill and dale, trotting and cantering most of the way, and NO DRY SPOTS! I felt like I was unveiling a priceless statue when I took the pad off with crossed fingers. There was my horse's back, evenly sweaty and gross all over. With this pad I can also add shims later, if it becomes necessary. After today though, I don't think I'll have to. Here's to happy backs and a good season!


                              • #16
                                Well - be warned though - no dry spots still doesn't mean the saddle fits Ask me how I know that! For an entire season I rode in a saddle that had beautiful/perfect sweat patterns and that winter when the horse's winter hair grew in - she grew two baseball sized white patches behind the withers. The pressure can be bad enough to damage the hair folicles but not bad enough to shut off the sweat glands. Just like you, I thought I was home free when the dry spots disapeared. Seeing dry spots is only when it's REALLY BAD. Saddles can still cause pressure and discomfort and not yield dry spots. Watch the horse's behavior and attitude very very closely. Go up and down plenty of hills, and note any swishing of the tail, ears pinned, stilted baby stepping down hills, etc. etc. Sorry to be a downer, but I'm just being honest.