• Welcome to the Chronicle Forums.
    Please complete your profile. The forums and the rest of www.chronofhorse.com has single sign-in, so your log in information for one will automatically work for the other. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Chronicle of the Horse.



Forum rules and no-advertising policy

As a participant on this forum, it is your responsibility to know and follow our rules. Please read this message in its entirety.

Board Rules

1. You’re responsible for what you say.
As outlined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, The Chronicle of the Horse and its affiliates, as well Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd., the developers of vBulletin, are not legally responsible for statements made in the forums.

This is a public forum viewed by a wide spectrum of people, so please be mindful of what you say and who might be reading it—details of personal disputes are likely better handled privately. While posters are legally responsible for their statements, the moderators may in their discretion remove or edit posts that violate these rules. Users have the ability to modify or delete their own messages after posting, but administrators generally will not delete posts, threads or accounts upon request.

Outright inflammatory, vulgar, harassing, malicious or otherwise inappropriate statements and criminal charges unsubstantiated by a reputable news source or legal documentation will not be tolerated and will be dealt with at the discretion of the moderators.

2. Conversations in horse-related forums should be horse-related.
The forums are a wonderful source of information and support for members of the horse community. While it’s understandably tempting to share information or search for input on other topics upon which members might have a similar level of knowledge, members must maintain the focus on horses.

3. Keep conversations productive, on topic and civil.
Discussion and disagreement are inevitable and encouraged; personal insults, diatribes and sniping comments are unproductive and unacceptable. Whether a subject is light-hearted or serious, keep posts focused on the current topic and of general interest to other participants of that thread. Utilize the private message feature or personal email where appropriate to address side topics or personal issues not related to the topic at large.

4. No advertising in the discussion forums.
Posts in the discussion forums directly or indirectly advertising horses, jobs, items or services for sale or wanted will be removed at the discretion of the moderators. Use of the private messaging feature or email addresses obtained through users’ profiles for unsolicited advertising is not permitted.

Company representatives may participate in discussions and answer questions about their products or services, or suggest their products on recent threads if they fulfill the criteria of a query. False "testimonials" provided by company affiliates posing as general consumers are not appropriate, and self-promotion of sales, ad campaigns, etc. through the discussion forums is not allowed.

Paid advertising is available on our classifieds site and through the purchase of banner ads. The tightly monitored Giveaways forum permits free listings of genuinely free horses and items available or wanted (on a limited basis). Items offered for trade are not allowed.

Advertising Policy Specifics
When in doubt of whether something you want to post constitutes advertising, please contact a moderator privately in advance for further clarification. Refer to the following points for general guidelines:

Horses – Only general discussion about the buying, leasing, selling and pricing of horses is permitted. If the post contains, or links to, the type of specific information typically found in a sales or wanted ad, and it’s related to a horse for sale, regardless of who’s selling it, it doesn’t belong in the discussion forums.

Stallions – Board members may ask for suggestions on breeding stallion recommendations. Stallion owners may reply to such queries by suggesting their own stallions, only if their horse fits the specific criteria of the original poster. Excessive promotion of a stallion by its owner or related parties is not permitted and will be addressed at the discretion of the moderators.

Services – Members may use the forums to ask for general recommendations of trainers, barns, shippers, farriers, etc., and other members may answer those requests by suggesting themselves or their company, if their services fulfill the specific criteria of the original post. Members may not solicit other members for business if it is not in response to a direct, genuine query.

Products – While members may ask for general opinions and suggestions on equipment, trailers, trucks, etc., they may not list the specific attributes for which they are in the market, as such posts serve as wanted ads.

Event Announcements – Members may post one notification of an upcoming event that may be of interest to fellow members, if the original poster does not benefit financially from the event. Such threads may not be “bumped” excessively. Premium members may post their own notices in the Event Announcements forum.

Charities/Rescues – Announcements for charitable or fundraising events can only be made for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. Special exceptions may be made, at the moderators’ discretion and direction, for board-related events or fundraising activities in extraordinary circumstances.

Occasional posts regarding horses available for adoption through IRS-registered horse rescue or placement programs are permitted in the appropriate forums, but these threads may be limited at the discretion of the moderators. Individuals may not advertise or make announcements for horses in need of rescue, placement or adoption unless the horse is available through a recognized rescue or placement agency or government-run entity or the thread fits the criteria for and is located in the Giveaways forum.

5. Do not post copyrighted photographs unless you have purchased that photo and have permission to do so.

6. Respect other members.
As members are often passionate about their beliefs and intentions can easily be misinterpreted in this type of environment, try to explore or resolve the inevitable disagreements that arise in the course of threads calmly and rationally.

If you see a post that you feel violates the rules of the board, please click the “alert” button (exclamation point inside of a triangle) in the bottom left corner of the post, which will alert ONLY the moderators to the post in question. They will then take whatever action, or no action, as deemed appropriate for the situation at their discretion. Do not air grievances regarding other posters or the moderators in the discussion forums.

Please be advised that adding another user to your “Ignore” list via your User Control Panel can be a useful tactic, which blocks posts and private messages by members whose commentary you’d rather avoid reading.

7. We have the right to reproduce statements made in the forums.
The Chronicle of the Horse may copy, quote, link to or otherwise reproduce posts, or portions of posts, in print or online for advertising or editorial purposes, if attributed to their original authors, and by posting in this forum, you hereby grant to The Chronicle of the Horse a perpetual, non-exclusive license under copyright and other rights, to do so.

8. We reserve the right to enforce and amend the rules.
The moderators may delete, edit, move or close any post or thread at any time, or refrain from doing any of the foregoing, in their discretion, and may suspend or revoke a user’s membership privileges at any time to maintain adherence to the rules and the general spirit of the forum. These rules may be amended at any time to address the current needs of the board.

Please see our full Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Thanks for being a part of the COTH forums!

(Revised 1/26/16)
See more
See less

Anyone have experience fitting a saddle to a swayback?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Anyone have experience fitting a saddle to a swayback?

    Seeking wisdom. I have a two-year-old TB filly who I adopted last year as she was not destined to go to the yearling sale... she's well put together and a lovely, lovely mover, but her back conformation is ... well, odd. I don't know if she officially qualifies as a swayback or if she just has an unusually prominent shoulder-blade and wither, but her back drops away significantly behind the wither. (Was hoping I'd see some alteration in this as she matured over the winter, but swaybacked she is apparently going to stay!)

    Now, I did research swayback before I agreed to take her on, and I'm confident it won't represent an unsoundness. It doesn't predispose her to being a wobbler, predict that she will have back soreness issues more than any 'ordinary' shark-finned horse (and I've had a few of those), or otherwise mean she can't have an athletic future. It does, however, mean she's going to be tricky to fit a saddle to.

    She's ready to be introduced to saddle and bridle and learn to longe. Has anyone had a horse with this sort of conformation? Looking for some suggestions re: saddle fitting, filling in the dip with the right combo of pads, etc. What has worked for you?

    I figure at the very worst, if we can't work out this saddle-fitting thing, I can send her off for driving lessons, but she's such a little athlete that I would love to event her. C'est possible?

  • #2
    I think modern pessoas tend to be more curved front to back than the average saddle. I know a gen x xch worked well for my Arab who was rather down in his back, when he was muscled up. It bridges now that he had the winter off and lost his topline. They probably won't work for a true swayback. Although the saddles with the AMS panels would work better than those with Bayflex panels. And if you can live with a dressage saddle, I have an Anky Euro XCH (AMS panels) that fits the Arab I mentioned above beautifully even without his muscles.

    Do you have pictures to show how badly the horse's back is swayed? It would help bring in recommendations. You might also want to invest in a good shimmable saddle pad until your horse builds up some muscle. Skito does custom work based on pictures of the horse and saddle, and are very nice to work with. They have experience with swayback type horses.


    • #3
      someone posted a saddle pad to help with this issue...
      it was on a saddle bridging thread.

      this isn't it but this is a product that would work.
      google bridge pad, or search COTH. You might find it.

      Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


      • Original Poster

        Yup, this is her:

        http://ridexc.wordpress.com/trixie/ (Use the password "swayback".)

        (Sorry about the colour -- they're just quick cameraphone shots. She's actually chestnut.)

        I'll have a look at the Skito pads -- thanks!


        • #5
          You can also look at any of the places that carry saddlebred tack. Years of breeding for the high neck carriage created horses with sway backs and there are tons of correction pads to make saddles fit them. Heck, there's even a part in many under saddle classes where you have to take the saddle off the horse so the judge can look at his back!


          • #6
            I suspect you'll need to invest in a custom saddle
            I'd just leave her to grow up another year at least before starting any saddle work ...

            Another COTHer had a saddle done by Patrick Saddlery (other companies passed on the opportunity) - I'd link the thread but the Search function is still locked in the past.


            • #7
              Years ago I part-leased an amazing jumper that had a major swayback. He came with his own custom Keiffer along with a special pad because of the severity of the sway. My friend who was paying the other half of his lease did not fit in his saddle, so we used her saddle with a sway back pad and he performed just as well in that as his own saddle, so I would say custom is not absolutely necessary. I was paranoid about back pain, but he was one of the soundest horses I have ever had.


              • Original Poster

                I have a fantastic custom saddler (www.paramountsaddlery.ca -- shout-out to Christian!) who I suspect will be game to make something for her should that become necessary, but I'd like to play around with some pads first to see if any of my existing saddles can be made to work on her. My old Prelim horse (now sadly departed) had major camel withers and the custom dressage saddle I had made for him, is currently sitting unused b/c none of my other critters is remotely his shape ... the filly is sorta similar, so I might get lucky there, but won't be surprised if I don't.

                I'm not in a rush to get her started, btw ... just would like to get her wearing some tack and longeing quietly this summer, maybe some ground-driving.


                • #9
                  I just spent forever typing out this long response and then it was eaten by internet goblins. Arrggg!

                  Ok, the short version. I have a horse with a swayback. Here he is: http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y20...psff7132e1.jpg

                  But under saddle, no one notices: http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y20...psb66905cf.jpg

                  We have a Black Country Eden dressage saddle with upswept panels, an Amerigo CC jump saddle, a Prolite Triple Pocket Shim pad, and anatomic girths. The BC I did buy new, while the Amerigo was used.

                  My horse has lived his whole life this way, always sound, never caused an issue other than saddle fit and winter blanket fit. He's 8 now.

                  You are going to probably want front wither gussets or some type of trapezius/drop panel, if not now, eventually. BC, Hastilow, and County are good places for those. Most people look at a swayback - even some fitters - and immediately think to put a riser in the back/middle, but that's not always the best option. You're going to want an upswept panel. Anything with big gussetted panels is going to poke her in the loin. You're also going to want to try for wool panels.

                  Be prepared for her back to change a LOT. I'd also consider waiting til she's at least 3 before backing her. Lunge her properly in side reins beforehand to build her back. Or drive her. She's going to change from growth, and then she's going to change again from muscling when she is ridden. My horse used a totally different setup at age 3, than at age 6 when I bought my saddles. I got him at 5, but I've known him since he was a weanling.

                  Just about any high end saddle company can get you a curvy tree with the panel configuration you'd need. Assuming you don't want to spend a fortune on a first saddle, I'll make a few suggestions: Stubben, the higher end HDR's, Vega, Jaguar, older versions of Pessoa and County, Prestige, maybe Courbette and Passier, Frank Baines Reflex, Dominus. Most of those can be found used under $1000.

                  Use a shim pad, such as the Prolite I have, the shimmable Thinline trifecta, or the Mattes correction pad. You can pull the stitching out of the Mattes to use a bridge shim, while the other two are set up for them already. Obviously a saddle fitter would be a good call. I did it wrong and bought my saddles before having a fitter out, luckily I did my homework and he didn't have to do much adjusting.

                  I don't want to write a novel again, so if you have any other questions, feel free to ask. I recently started a blog about him, though it's not public just yet, to share the things I've discovered have worked for him. It's definitely been a battle sometimes! Good luck with her.


                  • #10

                    And you can trim it with scissors for a proper fit.


                    • #11
                      We've had several (mostly prospective racehorses) to break-- they've all worn the regular old half-tree exercise saddle with a lollipop type riser pad, and been fine-- that might be a good compromise to start out with. Only one was as severe as yours, and he went on to be a nice hunting horse but did get sore if he was ridden in anything else or if he was ridden by anyone who weighed more than ~150 pounds. I am not sure how hard they worked on getting a saddle custom-fitted though.


                      • #12
                        Click image for larger version

Name:	Cutie Louie - sm.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	17.8 KB
ID:	9136063 Louie is built wither high back low. Both of my Passier saddles were adjusted by a professional who moved the wool around inside for a better fit.

                        There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness". - Dave Barry


                        • #13
                          I use County saddles for my horse

                          Both of my horse's saddles are County with wool flocking and the panels are more "banana" shaped than straight. The County saddle fitter helped me find the models that were best for my sway back horse, then adjusted the flocking accordingly. I added a Thinline sheepskin half pad with shims and the system works very well. Here is a picture of my horse:


                          His conformation has not caused any soundness issues, I am happy to say.
                          "Another member of the Barefoot Eventers Clique"


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks, everyone, for your input! I've decided to start with the simplest pad I could find that provided some thicker padding in the middle -- the Cashel. Had to order it in, so no feedback just yet. If the Cashel doesn't suit, then I now have a whole list of other pads I can try by ascending price. And if none of those work, it's on to the custom saddle plan ...


                            • #15
                              You might also talk to Ogilvy about making a specialized pad for her - certainly less $$ than a custom saddle at this stage
                              (link is to their facebook page)

                              I've seen some very good deals on barely used Ogilvy pads - if you think a non-custom might suit.
                              Do be cautious about trimming pads such as the Cashel or Thinline etc - non-beveled edges can create significant pressure points.


                              • #16
                                If your horse does continue to maintain a sway back you may wind up needing a saddle with more panel support in front and an upswept panel. We have fit at least a couple of horses with this type of set up. A correction pad with a bridge insert can also be advantageous.
                                Jay McGarry
                                sms trained saddle fitter


                                • Original Poster

                                  Quick update: tried the dressage saddle mentioned previously (the one custom-built for my old Prelim horse with the shark withers) and it's actually not a bad fit at the pommel and cantle. Sits fairly level, though this was without a girth so I'm just eyeballing at this point. And of course, it bridges -- badly -- in the middle. But if I can find the right system of pads to fill in that hollow, it might just be a prospect.

                                  I suspect a jumping saddle will be a bigger challenge by far.