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"Your horse is very difficult to fit" says vet. HELP!

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  • "Your horse is very difficult to fit" says vet. HELP!

    Had the vet (also a chiropractor and acupuncturist) out today to help with saddle fit as a follow-up to last week's chiro visit which was prompted by oval rub marks recently appearing on the boy's back under the cantle. The saddle which seemed to fit 5 months ago, obviously does not fit now.

    After trying on practically every saddle in the barn, you name it, we tried it, vet declared that nothing fit. They were either too narrow (and he has NO tolerance for pinched withers/shoulders and doesn't like saddles that "wrap around" his withers too closely) and/or the cantle of the saddle bounced up and down on his back as we trotted. Horse has lots of suspension and is very bouncy. Interestingly, even though it was the "bouncing" that presumably caused the rubs, he has more tolerance for that than he does for the too narrow around the withers/shoulders saddle, which he tells us by bucking on landing from a jump. No bucking when the saddle is wide enough in front but sloshes around on his back.

    Horse has well-defined medium wither. Slight shallow hollows behind the wither. LARGE set-back shoulders. Moderately A-frame shaped back and his topline (backbone) curves a little bit down behind the wither then proceeds in a straight line UP to his croup, which is much the highest part of him. Since he is six, I expect this shape will remain reasonably the same with some addition/definition of muscle. In other words, I do not expect his wither height to make a dramatic change and catch up to his croup, which definitely complicates the saddle fitting problem. Many of the saddles I rode in today felt like they were sending me on to the pommel.

    Please point me in the direction of what brands to start with, with his shape in mind. We tried a Passier Precision wide (bounce bounce), 2 Antares (med and wide), Devoucoux wide (way bouncy in back), Stackhouse (MW tree, too narrow), Bates (meh), older Pessoa (not absolutely horrible), Butet with newish warmblood tree (my fave but oh-so pricey), older Butet with regular tree (pinched), CWD med, and changeable Collegiate which I couldn't ride in to save my life.

    Thanks!
    "Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?" Sun Tzu
    Semantics

  • #2
    Vets aren't saddle fitters. I'd start looking for a good saddle fitter who can bring a range of saddles to try. Or you could go treeless.
    Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!

    Comment


    • #3
      I'd be looking at a company that can do custom gussets in the front to hold the saddle away from the withers, whlie also putting either unswept panels or custom tapered rear gussets on it.

      County and Black Country could both accomodate, as I'm sure others can as well. I'd be calling around to try to find a fitter with lots of demos to bring you.

      Comment


      • #4
        Stubben; they were the only saddle that fit my horse. A great quality, price, and the fitters are very nice and extremely helpful. Good luck!

        Comment


        • #5
          richard castelow

          when I tried every other company I then called Richard!!!
          Make sure you know what you like for yourself and then he can design for the horse , he is the best!!

          Comment


          • #6
            A vet is not a saddle fitter.
            County, Black Country, Albion--these are brands that can be 100% custom made for probably the same price of a used Antares, Butet or CWD. They may take a few months to come in, but the trees are made to template, they are wool flocked, can have wither gussets, different panel options, etc.
            Find a licensed, independent saddle fitter to help you out.

            Comment


            • #7
              I don't think trees of County, Black Country or Albion are fabricated from a template of the horse.

              But the tree issue raises a good point: It's worth putting a lot of different saddles, and saddles you wouldn't think to try on this horse. You'll learn a lot about what shape will and won't work. That will help you narrow your search.

              Other good things: Wool panels and ones that have a deep drop (usually more extreme that the Butet F2B you mention.

              It may be hard to find a saddle that's wide enough and also has deep panels. Later in his life-- think teens-- this horse's withers will be "taller." He will become a more conventional shape then.

              In the meantime, I'd "think outside the box" if he were mine and seemed to reject saddles like they grew on trees.

              I'd look for a wide tree of the right shape (front to back). He needs this because he won't tolerate pinched shoulders.

              Then I'd get funky with feeling around underneath the panels and perhaps adding my own very small shims at the gapping parts behind his withers. I mean stuffing the foam or wool felt up into the saddle. I have seen some long distance riders do this. It sounds homebrew-- and it was for them-- but the long distance riders have high standards for saddle fit and do what they need to to make things work.

              Best of luck to you!
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat

              Comment


              • #8
                You need to get a good, non-brand-affiliated saddle fitter to come assess your horse. Bill Wood (www.thesaddlefitter.com) is one of the best and I am pretty sure he comes to your area. He, or someone like him, has the experience with a huge variety of horses and saddles and the expertise to help you find the right saddle for your horse. It's not cheap to have someone good out to work with you, but in the long run, you will save time, heartache (and, ultimately, money, too) by going this route!

                Keep in mind, though, that the "right" saddle still will likely have to be adjusted regularly to changes in your horse's back. Most horses I have looked at once or twice a year. For my hard-to-fit mare, I make sure to have my fitter scrutinize her saddle every few months.
                Equinox Equine Massage

                In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
                -Albert Camus

                Comment


                • #9
                  I would try a PJ Delgrange.

                  My pinto mare's back sounds very similar to your guy's, and the PJ is the only saddle I have been able to find to fit her that doesn't make her mad. And I tried a Pessoa, County, Devoucoux, Butet, and Antares on her; all those got me was a humped back, pinned ears, and refusals to go forward.

                  Hence why I now own 3 PJs (2 Originals and a Pro).
                  Cherry Blossom Farm - Show & Field Hunters, Side Saddles

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I feel your pain. I had our local saddle fitter out yesterday to look at 4 horses/riders, three who are shopping and one whose we suspected did not fit anymore.

                    Try having one that is an extra, extra, extra narrow with shark fin wither, hollow behind, with pronounced shoulders (right significantly more than left), the beginnings of a slight sway back, and a bump on his spine... lol

                    Adjustable padding is our friend.
                    ...for there are wings on these hooves, the speed and power of foam-capped waves...
                    *~v~*~v~*~v~*~v~*~v~*~v~*~v~*
                    Proud member of the artists clique

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ClaireCaipirosco View Post
                      Stubben; they were the only saddle that fit my horse. A great quality, price, and the fitters are very nice and extremely helpful. Good luck!
                      I was going to suggest a Stubben as well. :-)

                      2bayboys - if you want to try a Stubben, you can try mine since we aren't far from each other. I could bring it out to you to try. I also have an Ashland II if you want to try that. I have a mare that has a bit of a high wither with the "dip" behind, etc. and both of these saddles fit her. Let me know if you'd like to try one or both.
                      Honey badger don't give a sh!t.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Black Country and Albion do make trees from a template of your horse, because I have a few in my barn. (I'm not sure about County). If the saddle fitter said you need a medium or m/w, why would you suggest a wide? A high wither does not always mean wide tree. Many times a high wither means a narrow tree with wither gussets. My gelding sounds VERY similar to yours. He is 17.2, has a medium/narrow tree for his high wither and big wither gussets. His Albion was made from a template, fully custom, wool flocked and $3,300 with two fittings included.

                        Originally posted by mvp View Post
                        I don't think trees of County, Black Country or Albion are fabricated from a template of the horse.

                        But the tree issue raises a good point: It's worth putting a lot of different saddles, and saddles you wouldn't think to try on this horse. You'll learn a lot about what shape will and won't work. That will help you narrow your search.

                        Other good things: Wool panels and ones that have a deep drop (usually more extreme that the Butet F2B you mention.

                        It may be hard to find a saddle that's wide enough and also has deep panels. Later in his life-- think teens-- this horse's withers will be "taller." He will become a more conventional shape then.

                        In the meantime, I'd "think outside the box" if he were mine and seemed to reject saddles like they grew on trees.

                        I'd look for a wide tree of the right shape (front to back). He needs this because he won't tolerate pinched shoulders.

                        Then I'd get funky with feeling around underneath the panels and perhaps adding my own very small shims at the gapping parts behind his withers. I mean stuffing the foam or wool felt up into the saddle. I have seen some long distance riders do this. It sounds homebrew-- and it was for them-- but the long distance riders have high standards for saddle fit and do what they need to to make things work.

                        Best of luck to you!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          www.thecorrector.net

                          I always suggest this, but nobody seems to want to try it. IT WORKS. I have been using one for three years now, and my bodywork guy and vet both comment on how nice and soft my horse's back is. And I know the saddle doesn't fit him - the Devoucoux is too narrow in the gullet and too wide of a tree, the Amerigo is too wide, and the Black Country is too flat, yet all of them work with this pad. And no, I don't represent the company, I'm just a very happy customer.

                          I guarantee it will take care of your horse's issues with saddles sitting too close to his withers. If you can get past the horrible website, the information on there is quite good and is also backed (not directly) by Dr. Joyce Harman.
                          "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

                          So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My mare has a similar fit to your guy... and no, it's not an easy one! I just got my County last week and it fits her beautifully... Took a LONG time to come in, but was worth it. The SR panels make all the difference...
                            "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A co-worker has the Corrector pad and she loves it too.

                              She also warned me about the bad website!

                              It looks interesting, anyway.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Downhill + gaps behind the large shoulder is, indeed, a difficult fit but one I've seen several times on Thoroughbreds. You can live happily ever after, but you have to understand the physics of what's happening:

                                Unlike a flatter back, where the horse's flank musculature slides peacefully under the saddle's panel because it's in perfect tune with the saddle's panel curvature, Mister Downhill and Steep will tend to make contact with the back of the saddle in the flank area because his flank area is angled like a ski jump or a roller coaster slope. Thus, once the flank starts moving, it will either push a flat-treed saddle forward into the shoulders (ouch), or worse, it will take a banana-treed saddle and pitch it forward like a see-saw so that now the tree is diving points-first into the horse's scapula bones. Double ouch, and that's why the horse might throw a hissy fit even though the saddle seems perfectly matched to the horse's tracings. It only helps to wear a saddle whose tree point width matches tracings if the tree points stay where they belong BEHIND the scapula, not jam INTO the scapula!

                                In general, I agree with mvp's suggestions for something wool flocked, deep panel, etc. But you really should start with a good saddle fitter. Frankly, I have seen cases where you can fix it with a little creative corrective padding and the saddle that you've already got. To be fair, I've also seen cases where there is absolutely no cheapie solution and the horse needs a custom-ordered deep panel. But a good, honest saddle fitter is the place to start. I ditto the suggestion for Bill Wood, who is a good egg. The fitter will let you know how extreme the situation is, and if you do need some kind of specialty panel, how speshul it has to be (example: can you get away with just a panel that's thicker in the front, like the panels on the Frank Baines Reflex or Albion Kontact, or does it have to be an honest-to-god deep/dropped panel like the Black Country Trapezius Panel or the Skid Row Panel)?
                                Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by eventer_mi View Post
                                  www.thecorrector.net

                                  I always suggest this, but nobody seems to want to try it. IT WORKS. I have been using one for three years now, and my bodywork guy and vet both comment on how nice and soft my horse's back is. And I know the saddle doesn't fit him - the Devoucoux is too narrow in the gullet and too wide of a tree, the Amerigo is too wide, and the Black Country is too flat, yet all of them work with this pad. And no, I don't represent the company, I'm just a very happy customer.

                                  I guarantee it will take care of your horse's issues with saddles sitting too close to his withers. If you can get past the horrible website, the information on there is quite good and is also backed (not directly) by Dr. Joyce Harman.
                                  So I tried to muddle through the website but it really is horrible. Can you expand on it a little more?

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    [QUOTE=jn4jenny;5483160]Downhill + gaps behind the large shoulder is, indeed, a difficult fit but one I've seen several times on Thoroughbreds. You can live happily ever after, but you have to understand the physics of what's happening:

                                    Unlike a flatter back, where the horse's flank musculature slides peacefully under the saddle's panel because it's in perfect tune with the saddle's panel curvature, Mister Downhill and Steep will tend to make contact with the back of the saddle in the flank area because his flank area is angled like a ski jump or a roller coaster slope. Thus, once the flank starts moving, it will either push a flat-treed saddle forward into the shoulders (ouch), or worse, it will take a banana-treed saddle and pitch it forward like a see-saw so that now the tree is diving points-first into the horse's scapula bones. Double ouch, and that's why the horse might throw a hissy fit even though the saddle seems perfectly matched to the horse's tracings. It only helps to wear a saddle whose tree point width matches tracings if the tree points stay where they belong BEHIND the scapula, not jam INTO the scapula!

                                    QUOTE]

                                    Well, DAY-um, that makes perfect sense! Thanks to all with suggestions! Since I know that the curvy trees will not fit this beast, anybody have a general list of what brands to avoid and conversely, what brands should go on the "at least give it a try" list? Never fear offending my sensibilities, I am no snob when it comes to this issue.
                                    "Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?" Sun Tzu
                                    Semantics

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Centaur Saddlery

                                      I have had good luck with Centaur saddles made by Michael Stokes. He makes custom saddles for a very reasonable price but will also evaluate the saddle you have or any other saddle you may want to try. He is recommended by a number of chiropractors the most notable being Judith Shoemaker.

                                      http://centaursaddlery.com/

                                      He is located in Virginia. Not a big name but has a very devoted following.

                                      Nina

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        it looks like you've tried mostly French brands, so I would try some of the English brands. All the English brands I've tried have much straighter trees (Black Country, County, my current Northrun) and are very well made. Not as "pretty" as the French ones, but still excellent quality. I would check some of those out if you haven't already.

                                        Comment

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