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Fixing bridging on saddle?

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  • Fixing bridging on saddle?

    So I tried a 17/34cm Prestige Eventer. Seemed to fit horse very well and he went very well in it as well, but I just wasn't happy with it leg wise for myself. So I happened to find a BLACK 18/33cm Prestige Nona Garson (what I wanted to begin with) so I snapped it up. Leg wise it's much better for me and I feel like I can find a balance point easily which I couldn't do in the eventer. BUT of course now this one doesn't fit the horse.... definite bridging going on. I think he could use the 34cm, but I'm no fitter and I don't know if having the tree widened a little will help the issue. It's foam flocked so no adjusting it to that degree. I'm trying to decide how much I should put into making it fit or if I should just resell it and move on...
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  • #2
    Bridging doesn't really have to do with tree width. It is the straightnees of the rails of the tree. Since it is foam and not wool your best bet is a pad that accepts inserts such as a thinline withe bridging inserts.
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    • #3
      Bridging is a fundamental, structural issue. You may be able to fix it with some creative padding, but bottom line is that the saddle is not built correctly for the horse, unfortunately.

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      • #4
        Bridging is usually ALL about tree width. Typically the first sign of a tree that's too narrow (apart from you noticing the pommel being too high) is the bridging !

        You need the 34. No amount of flocking changes even to a wool panel will fix it. Fortunately, you have an adjustable tree. This is one instance where it probably makes more economic sense to send it off to the manufacturer, or VTO saddlery, or someone, than to have an independent fitter do it on the spot because it's a heat-molded synthetic tree. If I do it, it has to sit under the heat lamp for 12 hours and then go into the press and it's a pain, and can't be done on site with the horse right there anyway, so you don't lose anything by sending it away. It costs about $100 for one of the big places to do it, and I'm pretty sure none of us independents can do it for anything close to that.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by KateWooten View Post
          Bridging is usually ALL about tree width. Typically the first sign of a tree that's too narrow (apart from you noticing the pommel being too high) is the bridging !
          Maybe you can explain this further, as I have done in-depth research to fit my oddly-shaped guy and that's not at all what was explained by most saddle fitting sites.

          My VERY basic explanation of what I understand about bridging: There are flat trees, and curved trees. There are flat backs, and curved backs. Bridging happens when you try to fit a flat tree on a curved back. Rocking happens when you try to put a curved tree on a flat back. If the issue is minor it can possibly be fixed by some flocking, but if it's anything above minor you're looking at a tree that is just not designed for the back that it's on.

          This is incorrect?

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          • #6
            Do a little more in-depth research. Pick a tree that fits your horse. Then pick two tree sizes narrower Of that Same Tree. Put it on your horse. It will bridge. I could probably draw you the picture if I thought about it.... hmmm... Ok, picture the curve of your horse's back when viewed from the side, and the curve of a tree that fits it. Now, in your mind, simulate a similar curved tree but too narrow - so the same curve now starts MUCH higher up on your horse's wither. Now the curve of the tree is just not deep enough to follow your horse's back. It would have to be a MUCH steeper curve to follow the wither down. As a result, you've now got a tree that's effectively too straight, and will bridge.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by KateWooten View Post
              Do a little more in-depth research. Pick a tree that fits your horse. Then pick two tree sizes narrower Of that Same Tree. Put it on your horse. It will bridge. I could probably draw you the picture if I thought about it.... hmmm... Ok, picture the curve of your horse's back when viewed from the side, and the curve of a tree that fits it. Now, in your mind, simulate a similar curved tree but too narrow - so the same curve now starts MUCH higher up on your horse's wither. Now the curve of the tree is just not deep enough to follow your horse's back. It would have to be a MUCH steeper curve to follow the wither down. As a result, you've now got a tree that's effectively too straight, and will bridge.
              I see it rocking or severely pinching more than bridging, but I will give way to your greater experience.

              Still not sure I would go so far to say that bridging is "ALL about tree size," though.

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              • #8
                Yes, typically - you can find trees that are just too straight, but overwhelmingly often, widening a tree makes the bridging go away. Of course there may be other issues.

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                • #9
                  (oh, and not including very sway-backed horses of course - in that case almost everything bridges)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by GoForAGallop View Post
                    I see it rocking or severely pinching more than bridging
                    Did you do the actual experiment with the different tree widths or just the thought experiment ? A too narrow saddle doesn't rock at all - quite the opposite. And oddly enough, even the ''severe pinching' that most people think of is often counter-intuitive. Too narrow of a tree sits up at the front, puts the riders' weight too far back and can often lead straight to way too much pressure under the cantle, and none at all under the tree points. It's a moving system.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KateWooten View Post
                      Did you do the actual experiment with the different tree widths or just the thought experiment ? A too narrow saddle doesn't rock at all - quite the opposite. And oddly enough, even the ''severe pinching' that most people think of is often counter-intuitive. Too narrow of a tree sits up at the front, puts the riders' weight too far back and can often lead straight to way too much pressure under the cantle, and none at all under the tree points. It's a moving system.
                      Seeing as I'm not a saddle fitter and responded to your post within five minutes of you posting, no, I did not have the chance to run out to the barn, pull out two identical saddles with only slightly different tree widths, and try the experiment.

                      I do understand what you're saying, and can picture it in my head.

                      I was just disagreeing with the "ALL about" statement, as many of the pros in my area (Kitt up at Trumbull, Colin Davis, etc) do not even mention tree width when they talk about bridging, they talk about tree shape.

                      I suspect you're right that tree width is the issue for the OP, but lots of people read these saddle fitting threads to learn. Tree shape should get its just mention , so that people don't get stuck trying to fit a square peg into a round hole by thinking they can just go up a tree size.

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                      • #12
                        If the 34 cm fit and the 33 cm is too small, it seems like it is just an issue of tree width.

                        Are you sure it's actually bridging?

                        Bridging occurs when the saddle makes contact only in the front and the back, so that the panels do not support the rider's weight in the middle.

                        When bridging is minor, it sometimes isn't a problem when the horse lifts its back in work, but you do need to be careful about it.
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                        • #13
                          I agree with Kate in that bridging can be a matter of width. If the saddle is perched up front and back due to the width being too narrow, it will only make contact on the front and rear and often going wider, if the general shape is decent for the horse, will help with the bridging issue.
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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                            If the 34 cm fit and the 33 cm is too small, it seems like it is just an issue of tree width.

                            Are you sure it's actually bridging?

                            Bridging occurs when the saddle makes contact only in the front and the back, so that the panels do not support the rider's weight in the middle.

                            When bridging is minor, it sometimes isn't a problem when the horse lifts its back in work, but you do need to be careful about it.
                            Yes, I can stick my hand down the front of the saddle and feel where it doesn't sit on him. Can also tell when feeling from under the flap. This was not at all an issue with the 34cm Eventer, hence the asking if have this 33cm Nona widened to 34 would help alleviate the problem since they are both Prestige saddles. I don't mind buying a pad if needed to further help after that as the horse I'm riding is not mine, so while it would be nice if the saddle fit perfectly I don't want to spend a lot of money changing this saddle to fit him if there is no hope lol.
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                            • #15
                              I missed the fact before that it is a different model saddle. You will need to find out if the two fit similarly before going through the trouble of widening the tree. Even though they are both Prestige saddles they can still fit differently.
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                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                I sent an email to VTO to get their opinion since they sell both saddles and do tree width changes on them.
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                                • #17
                                  I have found that bridging can be affected by the width of the tree, but having a horse with a curvier-than-average back and needing at least a wide if not x-wide in tree width I know from experience that the width might fit, but the saddle can still bridge; don't know how many saddles I went through! If the saddle seems to fit in the front, widening it will likely make the tree too wide. I do understand how bridging could come from a too-narrow saddle, but I would first notice that the tree was not wide enough before noticing the bridging. The horse would notice, too!

                                  As for fixing true bridging, if the front of the saddle fits there are pads and shims you can get to help if it is not too bad. I have used Skito pads with good results; you send in photos of the horse's back with and without the saddle, explain where the bridging is, and they recommend a particular combination of thickness of pad and shims. The foam is very nice and the pads are well made; they come in just about any material and color combination you want.

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by KateWooten View Post
                                    (oh, and not including very sway-backed horses of course - in that case almost everything bridges)
                                    As the owner of one very sway-backed horse, I will chime in and say that it IS possible to get saddles that do not bridge and yes, both tree width and tree shape has a lot to do with it.

                                    While I don't think it's an issue with the Prestige jump saddles mentioned, bridging can be further assisted by too large gusseted panels in the back.

                                    Two pads that I find to be good for bridging are the Thinline that you can add inserts to, and the Prolite Triple Pocket pad. Both are relatively thin pads that you can put varied thickness of shims in. Both are shock absorbing as well. The Thinline allows you to get the nice white fluffy half-pad look if you want, while the Prolite, IMO, is not as fancy (or expensive) but a little easier to work with. Especially if you use the pad for multiple horses or saddles.

                                    Now, that said, you would still want to make sure the width of the saddle works. You wouldn't want to add one of these pads to an already too narrow saddle.
                                    Last edited by OreoCookie; Feb. 28, 2013, 02:53 PM. Reason: spelling

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                                    • #19
                                      Personally, I'd sell it and move on.

                                      There is a chance having the tree widened will fix the issue. However, there is also a chance that the the seat size (and correspondingly the length of the panel) is the issue. A horse with a short or upward sloping back can be a problem in this department.

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                                      • #20
                                        Contacting VTO sounds like your best bet. The good news is that the Prestige trees can be adjusted many times without impacting their integrity so if the saddle fits you and a simple adjustment can make it work for your horse, it's worth holding onto.

                                        Honestly if it is only $100 and you really like the saddle, I might try it anyway. It won't negatively impact the value of your saddle. I have a County Extreme that was adjusted out to a wide tree before I got it and I'm having it adjusted back to a medium tree to fit my horse because it's one of my favorite saddles. Now, since my saddle is slightly too wide for my horse I can see that the panel shape and tree shape fit him very well -- the just need to be narrower. Luckily my fitter can do that for me at the barn when he comes next month.
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