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Saddle Fit Question for the Horse with Uneven Shoulders

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  • Saddle Fit Question for the Horse with Uneven Shoulders

    I have a wonderful IDSH who competes very successfully at training level. Unfortunately, he has uneven shoulder pockets, which makes saddle fitting problematic. I ride dressage in a saddle with wool flocking that is adjusted twice yearly by an excellant saddle fitter but my jumping saddle is a Devoucoux Chiberta with foam panels. Foam doesn't allow for any adjustment so my jumping saddle sits crooked as the right side seeks the "sweet spot" that is my horse's right shoulder pocket. Riding crooked is neither comfortable to me nor my horse as I always feel off balance and he wonders why my left leg is a good two inches further back than my right.

    So, here's my question: has anyone ever re-flocked a Devoucoux single flap Chiberta saddle? It doesn't look like there is enough structure to the panels to use wool but I'm not a saddle maker. When I shift the saddle into the correct orientation I feels absolutely wonderful and it puts me in a super balanced position but it never stays that way as the right side moves forward into the shoulder pocket when we begin our work.

    If there are only horror stories about re-flocking, does anyone have any suggestions on how to solve this problem, including saddle recommendations for something like the Chiberta but with wool or air panels? Thanks for any and all advice. tlw

  • #2
    I have no idea re: the flocking part but in addition to adjusting the flocking my saddle fitter has me use the two back billets on one side to give my horse's shoulder more room. The flocking/billet change combination really makes a difference.
    Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


    • #3
      Why not look into a Mattes or Thinline pad with shims, so that you can shim everything up to even?


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by GoForAGallop View Post
        Why not look into a Mattes or Thinline pad with shims, so that you can shim everything up to even?
        I use a pad with a shim but it doesn't fill the gap enough. Interesting question on this issue though: one saddle fitter suggested putting the shim on the side with the deeper pocket to fill it in and another fitter said to put it on the other side so it would "pull" the saddle closer to the side with the deeper pocket (hard to explain without visual aides). But, in any event, shims don't seem to help a lot - I think because the pocket is at the front of the flap and not under the tree point - if that makes sense.


        • #5
          I have had some fair luck with using memory foam in this situation. All I did was purchase a memory foam pillow/egg crate/bed topper and cut it to fit under the tree points on both sides. Seems to even it out fairly well. It may depend on how much gap you have tho' ....You can use the bed topper/egg crate style as a 1/2 pad as well. You may have to experiment with size, shape,thickness ,etc.


          • #6
            I rode a horse like that, with one hollow behind the scapula much deeper than the other. I had saddle fitters and saddle sellers look at him and the best suggestion that I got was to ride with a bareback pad until he evened up.

            Then I found Ortho-flex, and rode him in this model for many years. (His shoulders never did even up.)

            "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


            • #7
              Foam-to-wool conversions aren't usually very successful, due to the fact that the panels aren't roomy enough to hold sufficient wool to cushion the horse's back from the tree. Foam has more density and therefore cushions better than wool, so the panels can be thinner, therefore most conversions end up with the panels grossly distended and round ... not a good thing. A Mattes correction pad might be a very good option here; you can shim (and trim the shims) as necessary.
              Kitt Hazelton
              Saddle Fitter


              • #8
                Buy a wool flocked saddle that fits?
                On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


                • #9
                  I was told by my saddle fitter not to do it on my Devoucoux. I ended up buying a new saddle instead.


                  • #10
                    Have you spoken with Devoucoux about having the saddle re-paneled? they should be able to create asymmetric (foam) panels or convert saddle to (replacement) wool panels: other folks might do this as well but I always like to hear what the saddle manufacturer (who knows every component of their saddle intimately) has to say first.

                    On second thoughts having just recalled this bit of wisdom from jn4jenny
                    If I were serious about considering the repanel, I wouldn't be calling Devoucoux or an independent saddler. I'd be calling Voltaire, which is based in Florida and was founded by people who defected from Devoucoux. Voltaire can repanel your Devoucoux for about $350, and they do it in the US so the turnaround is about two weeks. That's a big improvement over the $600+ and multi-month turnaround of having Devoucoux repanel your saddle in France. Voltaire has managed to employ the one former Devoucoux rep that I ever thought was trustworthy (Eric Leysalle), so you'd be working with someone who knows the Chiberta well and could advise about whether it's save-able with a different panel option. I say this with a caveat: I think Eric is a pretty straight shooter, but Voltaire and Devoucoux share the philosophy that they can make their saddle fit almost any horse by altering the panel. I do not share that philosophy, but I also know a lot about saddle fit, so I would trust myself to decide whether the proposed panel re-do would actually work or not. http://en.voltaire-design.com/contact.html
                    (complete thread here)

                    From last year's thread - jn4jenny really is an excellent source & she has suggested alternates for those that love the Chiberta but lack the horse for whom it was (apparently) built.

                    It's also possible that this saddle is just not going to be able to be fitted to the asymmetry - have you tried other wool flocked jump saddles?

                    Unfortunately, he has uneven shoulder pockets, which makes saddle fitting problematic.
                    Have you addressed this with physio/rehab & it's "permanent"?
                    I have a Welsh who was very resistant in his asymmetry until forced into rehab (mystery pasture incident), 6 months on, he finally has "matching" shoulders


                    • #11
                      I had good luck with a Griffin NuuMed saddle pad with wool pads that could be added to the top of the saddle pad on the shoulder or shoulders. Unfortunately that pad doesn't seem to be sold in the US any more. But they are available from GB.
                      "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                      Thread killer Extraordinaire


                      • #12
                        You're better off just getting a new saddle since you'll have to have new panels constructed since the foam is glued into the existing panels and cant be removed without destroying them. I also would not recommend shimming unless the saddle is wide enough to accommodate this. Asymmetrical flocking is also a bad idea since it won't encourage him to develop evenly (think of a asymmetrical cast).

                        Talk to your saddle fitter about a shimming option that will help the saddle fit more balanced on his back without becoming too narrow. Otherwise you may be better off selling it for something adjustable.

                        Credentials: I work part time assisting a SMS certified saddle fitter.