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Dry spots behind withers

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  • Dry spots behind withers

    My horse's saddle used to fit him well, but lately has begun leaving dry ovals just behind and just below the withers. I know this is an indication of not fitting, but I'm not sure specifically where or how. Can anyone please enlighten me?

    He's a higher-withered quarter pony with the wide QH shoulders. It's a wide Stubben Rex... he's just been muscling up a lot as he's gotten in shape this summer, so I think that's why it's suddenly not fitting. It sits a little short on his back so the cantle is a little low--with a riser pad the vet told me it fit well, but the dry spots have now appeared even with the riser. It still doesn't appear to pinch him anywhere and he's not sore at all in the back, but the dry spots keep appearing.

    I bought a new saddle to test out tomorrow but as I begin the wretched miserable saddle hunt again, I'd like to know what to look for. (:

    A rider at my barn rode him last week in a medium-treed old Crosby and it fit him well, so that's what I'm trying... strange because my old Crosby PDN pinched him horribly and his current saddle is so wide.

    He is lucky I'm not holding to my previous threats of selling him instead of the saddle if he outgrew this one... d;
    "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

    Graphite/Pastel Portraits

  • #2
    We're having a thunder storm here...my first post got 'eaten' I think.

    So, will try again. The dry spots are the pressure points where your saddle is pinching horsey's back. If you continued to ride him in this saddle, it may cause the hairs in these spots to turn white. Not to mention, cause discomfort!


    • #3
      Couldn't you just send it out and have it reflocked? Might be cheaper than a new saddle
      "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin


      • #4
        There are professional saddle fitters and other professionals to tell you what's going on. Cheaper than buying a new saddle without knowing how to tell whether it fits. Also be aware that as horses grow and develop, gain, develop, or lose muscle and weight in general, their body shape and, consequently, saddle fit, change. Also saddles change over time. Reflocking will change a saddle;s shape, which can result in a better or a worse fit for a particular horse.


        • Original Poster

          I'd like to get a saddle fitter to look at it, but there isn't one anywhere near here so I'm not sure how much money I'd be talking to have one drive in from a couple of hours away... when the saddle fitter costs more than any of the saddles I can afford, I'm not sure how to work it. d; Guess that is a related question... how much do saddle fitters generally charge? If the Crosby I picked up doesn't fit, it would probably be a good bet to see if a saddle fitter could give me recommendations about my Stubben.

          If it could be reflocked that would be a possibility... I was looking into that. Since it's a bit short on his back anyway and needs a riser I wasn't sure if it was worth it, but I believe they can put in padding to make it sit more correctly without a riser, right?

          I wouldn't mind keeping the Stubben especially since I just got my Gary Mundy leathers to match it. d;
          "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

          Graphite/Pastel Portraits


          • #6
            The fact that you think it "needs a riser" indicates that the saddle is too narrow for him (unless he's built really, really uphill).

            Dry spots don't necessarily mean pinching - if they're larger than the palm of your hand, and on both sides evenly, they could mean lack of contact instead of too much. Lack of contact - usually found in TBs with those hollows behind the withers - usually means that the saddle is tight elsewhere, but you can often reflock to help this issue.

            If you're sold on the Stubben, look into getting a Corrector pad: www.thecorrector.net. I've successfully gone xc in a saddle that was waaaay too narrow for my Paint by using this pad, so if your saddle is a wee bit too narrow, it will probably take care of your problem. The inserts in this pad are hard, so they don't let pressure points through like other therapeutic pads. The only drawback is that they're expensive, but far cheaper than buying a new saddle.
            "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."


            • #7
              I also am using a Corrector pad on my mare. My saddle seemed to fit her OK, but it tilted me a little forward. I tried a riser, but did not like how it fit her. I tried a bunch of other saddles, and either they didn't fit her, or didn't fit me.

              The Corrector, though not inexpensive, resolved our issues. The saddle fits her better, it's more stable and neutral for me. www.thecorrector.net. Pad comes with 30-day guarantee.


              • #8
                I use a Ecogold pad to fill in the hollows in my horses back.

                But the point is, you still need a saddle fitter -- whether looking at your existing saddle or looking at potential new ones. We can only guess, even those of us who have worked hard to learn about saddle fit. (Joyce Harman has a good book on saddle fit you might find interesting.) Call Trumbull Mountain for help. They did long-distance saddle fitting for me and it worked very well. I'm sure there has to be someone who travels in your vicinity. If you line up several horses for them, they might come . . .

                Good luck. Saddle fitting is a pain.


                • #9
                  my experience is stubbens are narrow and designed to fit TB backs and probably won't ever fit a QH-type back. If you're using a riser pad it's probably WAY too narrow in the front for your horse. If it's too narrow putting any kind of pad under it, including the "corrector" pad, will only make it pinch even more. First test for saddle fit: put saddle on horse. It should sit level on back, with two or three fingers clearance between the cantle and the withers. If it's too narrow it will sit very high in front with lots clearance between cantle and withers, and the seat will slope backwards (tempting you to put a riser pad in); if it's too wide it will just sit down on the horse's withers and spine with no clearance. Too wide is preferable to too narrow because then you can add pads and make the horse comfortable.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks everybody... turns out to be pretty much a moot point now because the Crosby I picked up fits him beautifully. Rode him today in it and had a perfect even sweat pattern, and my vet was out at the barn to see another horse and checked it, and also thought it was a great fit. So I'll try it again tomorrow just to make sure, but since I liked it and he liked it, guess we'll stick with that. (:
                    "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                    Graphite/Pastel Portraits


                    • #11
                      If the saddle is leaving dry spots, reflocking will not help. The saddle is too narrow, plain and simple. This is very normal when your horse gets in shape and builds muscle, as you describe. It is always better to err on the side of getting a saddle that is too wide, and then padding it up. There is nothing you can do with a saddle that is too narrow. Do NOT go by how it fits when the horse is standing still. It will end up pinching, as yours is doing. Buy a wider saddle, and then add some padding (I prefer felt - safe, comfortable, breathable) so that the pommel is at least 2-3 fingers above withers. Look down channel from the back to be sure you have good clearance all along the spine. Gently lift up flaps and check to see that the saddle is not "bridging" (another indication of a too-narrow tree)..... most people buy saddles that are too narrow for their horse. Keep an eye on those sweat marks, they will tell you if you are on the right track. Good luck!