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How quickly do you see a difference when you change saddles?

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  • How quickly do you see a difference when you change saddles?

    I have a Percheron/TB cross and for the last several months I've been riding in the medium-wide gullet on my Bates saddle. He's been a bit grumpy when being tacked up, but has otherwise been okay most of the time. My trainer rides him in her medium Devacoux and is pleased with his movement for the most part. We both note that he can be in a "mood" sometimes and act like a bit of bully on the flat. He loves to jump so we don't see so much there.

    Anyway, for awhile now, I've noticed he gets a bit of bulge in front of the saddle when his shoulder muscle comes back at the walk. Yesterday, after our ride, I decided to measure him again, and I changed out the gullet to the wide one. What a difference today.

    We did a little jumping, but mostly worked on flat work and pacing. And he was fantastic - responsive and forward - and very comfortable to ride. If it wasn't for the wind, we could have played in the field and the ring all afternoon.

    Is it possible that changing the saddle gullet could have this big of an effect, or is it just coincidence? I always thought it was a subtle difference, but then again, I haven't changed saddles much.

  • #2
    I imagine it's similar to the relief we feel when unbuttoning our jeans after a big meal.

    But seriously, I can totally understand that the horse would feel different one day to the next. I had an unremarkable WB cross whose saddle was not a good fit for him. One day the grooms put the wrong saddle on him without my trainer realizing it was not my saddle. She said like three people asked her what horse she was riding, because he looked so fantastic. Sadly, his sudden lameness put an end to my saddle search, but that really opened my eyes.
    A helmet saved my life.

    2017 goal: learn to ride like TheHorseProblem, er, a barn rat!

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    • #3
      Try doing a workout in shoes that don't fit... Then change to a comfy pair.

      It's about like that for the horses, with saddles.
      **********
      We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
      -PaulaEdwina

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      • #4
        It can absolutely make a big difference - and quickly, depending on the horse. My mare usually takes a ride or two after getting her saddle adjusted to realize it doesn't hurt anymore, and then she's like a whole new horse. Glad you had such a good ride

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        • #5
          I would think of it as if you were wearing a ill fitting pair of shoes - then you change to something that fits, you may have soreness going on from the other shoes and depending on how long you wore them or damage done and it depends on the individual. Some are more sensitive than others.

          So yeah it can change quickly.

          AND LOL Lucassb I typed this before I ready your post... funny... but agree with you.
          Live in the sunshine.
          Swim in the sea.
          Drink the wild air.

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          • #6
            My Arab absolutely moves drastically different in a saddle that he doesn't like or doesn't fit right. If I put one that doesn't fit on him or that he just doesn't like, he LOUDLY expresses his opinions with anything from abject refusals to move to bucking like a bronc to just moving in bizarre manners.

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thank you, everyone. It's really going to help me when I talk to my trainer about the change. I told her I changed it and explained the results, but I suspect my trainer may not go with my decision to ride him in a wide tree. Saddle fitting is probably her one blind spot when it comes to horses and she loves her saddle - it is a nice saddle Also, I asked her to ride in my saddle when I changed from a medium to medium-wide and she continued to ride in her saddle.

              I guess this brings up another question ... how assertive should you be when it comes to talking to your trainer about something like this? I am a huge advocate for making my horse comfortable. I figure if he isn't comfortable he can't do his best job. My trainer doesn't always see things quite that way. The horses always come first, but she makes the distinction between health and comfort, if that makes sense. Anyway, any input would be helpful.

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              • #8
                First if a horse is grumpy when being saddled, the saddle likely does not fit.

                Second-the change is instant.

                I hosted a saddle clinic with Carol Brett/Balance saddles and watched 3 days full of saddle fittings.

                In 100% of the cases the change was instant and huge.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by sammicat View Post
                  Thank you, everyone. It's really going to help me when I talk to my trainer about the change. I told her I changed it and explained the results, but I suspect my trainer may not go with my decision to ride him in a wide tree. Saddle fitting is probably her one blind spot when it comes to horses and she loves her saddle - it is a nice saddle Also, I asked her to ride in my saddle when I changed from a medium to medium-wide and she continued to ride in her saddle.

                  I guess this brings up another question ... how assertive should you be when it comes to talking to your trainer about something like this? I am a huge advocate for making my horse comfortable. I figure if he isn't comfortable he can't do his best job. My trainer doesn't always see things quite that way. The horses always come first, but she makes the distinction between health and comfort, if that makes sense. Anyway, any input would be helpful.
                  For me, that would be a deal breaker. I would not ride with a trainer who put her saddle preference above my horse's comfort. Period, full stop: see earlier comment about wearing shoes that don't fit.
                  **********
                  We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                  -PaulaEdwina

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                  • #10
                    Deal breaker

                    I know a lot of trainers think all the saddle fit issue is a bunch of baloney but once they actually watch a horse trying different saddles and watching how the horse reacts, most come around to understanding.

                    A good idea might be to have the saddle fitter there and have the trainer watch your horse try different saddles - have her ride your horse in the different saddles and hopefully she will see the difference.

                    My old trainer rode the horse in the horse's saddle if the owner purchased a saddle for the horse. Many saddle fitters will work with a trainer regarding which saddle and pad to use on which horse should the rider's saddle be maybe a 16 and the trainer need an 18 or something similar.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sammicat View Post
                      I guess this brings up another question ... how assertive should you be when it comes to talking to your trainer about something like this? I am a huge advocate for making my horse comfortable. I figure if he isn't comfortable he can't do his best job. My trainer doesn't always see things quite that way. The horses always come first, but she makes the distinction between health and comfort, if that makes sense. Anyway, any input would be helpful.
                      Make it non negotiable - you're the client, it's your horse - trainer should certainly be an adequate rider to be able to easily ride in saddles that fit the horse but not trainer.

                      Imagine 6 foot trainer riding in saddle that fits horse & 5 foot owner

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