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Stabilizing the back end of a western saddle

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  • Stabilizing the back end of a western saddle

    Hey.

    My coach is currently riding her WB dressage mare in a Billy Cook western saddle to strengthen areas of the mare' s back. Right now, the mare's saddle does not fit her given her stage of development and the Billy Cook lets her move freely. Will get her a dressage saddle when she can be fitted.

    Anyway, the back end of the Billy Cook moves vertically at trot and canter. Does not move laterally, nor shift. Does not seem to bother the mare. She clearly happy in the saddle

    Thoughts. Should we be concerned about this? Is there anything we should do about this. There are slots at the rear of the saddle to add a strap. But the Movement does not seem to bother the mare. We have tied different saddle pads and right now we are using a thick felt pad.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    It's intended to have a back cinch on it; put one on. They aren't decoration; they're part of the saddle. And when you do get it, have it tight enough to do its job, not dangling below her belly as you see sometimes. Not as tight as the front cinch but with full contact and check/tighten as needed during the ride.
    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

    Comment


    • #3
      What Cowboymom said, with 2 additional caveats: Make sure to use a cinch hobble between the front and back cinches. It's what the ring in the center of the front cinch, towards the rear, is for, and prevents the back cinch from becoming a flank strap. Most back cinches come with one. If your saddle only has slots, you're going to need to buy the whole back cinch set up, two billets and the cinch. Also, if the horse has never had a back cinch on, make sure to lunge before mounting, so it can get used to the feel. Sometimes they take a big breath, feel the restriction, and get a a little excited about it. The cinch should be snug against the belly, but not tight.

      Comment


      • #4
        Flank strap. Agree with what was said above. I've had some horses who really had a problem with the backend of the saddle moving, and some who haven't. I'd think the bouncing up and down of the saddle would start to bother any horse after a while. I've noticed this bouncing happening a lot on my cute short-backed little QH --- it'd be like the saddle was paddling me! But I had a flank strap for trail riding, so no biggy ---- just used it all the time.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm a little taken aback by the responses. You all think it is acceptable that they are knowingly riding a horse with a saddle that does not fit?

          THE SADDLE DOES NOT FIT THE HORSE. Period. Sure, you can strap the back of the saddle down with a rear cinch, but you are simply covering up the fact that the saddle does not fit the horse. Probably too big for the horse, if the back of the saddle is coming up.

          Your instructor is not "strengthening the horse's back" by riding in a saddle that is too large. When a saddle doesn't fit, it is going to put pressure points somewhere on the horse. So if the back of the saddle is coming up, guess where ALL the pressure of the saddle tree is going? Somewhere more forward on the horse, usually the shoulders. You are going to create muscle atrophy with these pressure points. Which defeats the purpose of "strengthening the horse's back".

          You say that the mare seems happy. Some horses are just VERY tolerate of the pain and pressure points we put them through. You've just got a good-hearted horse on your hands who is willingly doing her job even though you've got ill fitting tack on her.

          If the saddle is too big, going with a thicker saddle pad won't help either. Would you wear shoes that are 2 sizes too big, but just wear 4 pairs of socks? That sounds ridiculous, right? So why do you put a saddle on a horse that is too big, but then just pad it up with a thicker pad?

          Do this mare a favor and find a used saddle that actually FITS her.
          It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

          Comment


          • #6
            If the saddle isn't rigged correctly you don't know that it doesn't fit. To further the ubiquitous shoe analogy, the laces aren't even tied! The best fitting saddle in the world will bounce if it isn't cinched up. And if the tree fits her back but is simply too big then well yeah, a pad will fill the gap.

            This isn't a "freak the heck out situation" to me.
            “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by cowboymom View Post
              If the saddle isn't rigged correctly you don't know that it doesn't fit.
              The OP said the saddle doesn't fit. I think that bears repeating.

              The back cinch has NOTHING to do with saddle fitting. Yes, it serves an important purpose to help keep the back of the saddle down during high speed events such as roping, but for most general riding that don't have hard stops or fast turns, the back cinch doesn't (and shouldn't) do much.

              If you need the back cinch in order to keep the back of your saddle down for normal riding, the saddle does not fit.

              Originally posted by cowboymom View Post
              And if the tree fits her back but is simply too big then well yeah, a pad will fill the gap.
              You are sorely mistaken.

              As I already explained above, a western saddle tree that is too large will put pressure on the front of the horse. You can put a thicker pad on, but you aren't changing the dynamics of the saddle tree.

              I went saddle shopping this spring for my horse.

              This was a Martin Crown C. It is too wide for my horse. It is sitting downhill, and when it was just setting on his back without a pad, it looked even worse. No matter what pad I put underneath it, it is still going to "tip forward" and put MORE pressure on the front end of the horse.

              http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k2...ps35ed18d9.jpg

              This saddle tree I got from a saddle maker to try on my horse. It also is not a good fit because it was bridging in the center which means the rock of the tree was not right. Padding will not change the fact that MORE pressure is going to be place on the back and the front of the horse, without even pressure distribution across the entire tree.

              http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k2...psf528a78a.jpg

              This was a Double J saddle I tried. Also too wide. If you try to "pad it up" you don't change the fact that the saddle is too wide.

              http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k2...pse43f3930.jpg
              It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

              Comment


              • #8
                I took the OP comment about the saddle not fitting to apply to her DRESSAGE saddle, not the Billy Cook. Which may or may not be fitting ideally but given the information in the post I am not losing sleep at night in advising that they rig the saddle correctly. I've gone a few rounds in the saddle fitting wars and honestly I don't think this is quite as dire a circumstance that you think it is.
                “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                Comment


                • #9
                  It sounds like the western saddle does not fit properly. A properly fitting saddle would not lift in the back. I always lunged a horse in a saddle and looked to see if the saddle lifted in the back at the different gaits. If it did lift I knew it didn't fit.
                  Dawn

                  Patience and Consistency are Your Friends

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by beau159 View Post
                    I'm a little taken aback by the responses. You all think it is acceptable that they are knowingly riding a horse with a saddle that does not fit?

                    THE SADDLE DOES NOT FIT THE HORSE. Period. Sure, you can strap the back of the saddle down with a rear cinch, but you are simply covering up the fact that the saddle does not fit the horse. Probably too big for the horse, if the back of the saddle is coming up.

                    Your instructor is not "strengthening the horse's back" by riding in a saddle that is too large. When a saddle doesn't fit, it is going to put pressure points somewhere on the horse. So if the back of the saddle is coming up, guess where ALL the pressure of the saddle tree is going? Somewhere more forward on the horse, usually the shoulders. You are going to create muscle atrophy with these pressure points. Which defeats the purpose of "strengthening the horse's back".

                    You say that the mare seems happy. Some horses are just VERY tolerate of the pain and pressure points we put them through. You've just got a good-hearted horse on your hands who is willingly doing her job even though you've got ill fitting tack on her.

                    If the saddle is too big, going with a thicker saddle pad won't help either. Would you wear shoes that are 2 sizes too big, but just wear 4 pairs of socks? That sounds ridiculous, right? So why do you put a saddle on a horse that is too big, but then just pad it up with a thicker pad?

                    Do this mare a favor and find a used saddle that actually FITS her.
                    You are my new hero. Get a saddle that fits!
                    Lilykoi


                    Hell hath no fury like the chestnut thoroughbred mare

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Along with proper fit using a back cinch is dependent on the rigging style!

                      If the saddle is a full double, 15/16 or even 7/8 a back cinch is needed to create an even pull on the rigging and tree regardless of sport it is being used for. A back cinch just isn't for roping like most think. How many centerfire rigged saddles have back cinches?

                      Side note: Too much rock in a tree can cause the back to pop up as well.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        That is what a rear cinch is for.
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                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by beau159 View Post
                          The OP said the saddle doesn't fit. I think that bears repeating.

                          The back cinch has NOTHING to do with saddle fitting. Yes, it serves an important purpose to help keep the back of the saddle down during high speed events such as roping, but for most general riding that don't have hard stops or fast turns, the back cinch doesn't (and shouldn't) do much.

                          If you need the back cinch in order to keep the back of your saddle down for normal riding, the saddle does not fit.



                          You are sorely mistaken.

                          As I already explained above, a western saddle tree that is too large will put pressure on the front of the horse. You can put a thicker pad on, but you aren't changing the dynamics of the saddle tree.

                          I went saddle shopping this spring for my horse.

                          This was a Martin Crown C. It is too wide for my horse. It is sitting downhill, and when it was just setting on his back without a pad, it looked even worse. No matter what pad I put underneath it, it is still going to "tip forward" and put MORE pressure on the front end of the horse.

                          http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k2...ps35ed18d9.jpg

                          This saddle tree I got from a saddle maker to try on my horse. It also is not a good fit because it was bridging in the center which means the rock of the tree was not right. Padding will not change the fact that MORE pressure is going to be place on the back and the front of the horse, without even pressure distribution across the entire tree.

                          http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k2...psf528a78a.jpg

                          This was a Double J saddle I tried. Also too wide. If you try to "pad it up" you don't change the fact that the saddle is too wide.

                          http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k2...pse43f3930.jpg
                          To be clear, it the dressage saddle that does not fit. The Billy Cook was a potential solution in the interim in the hopes of strengthening her back in order to fit her properly with a dressage saddle. The mare is changing because of her development. She is in that phase.

                          Beau, Please don't get your knickers in a knot. It was only a question. We are trying different things to sort out this mare, her development and saddle fit. That is a logical approach...try different things, assess and see what works.

                          Trust me, this mare has suffered far more abuse in the past at the hands of other people who broke her down than those who are trying to help her now and experimenting and asking questions of knowledgable people. Kudos to my coach who has been addressing a number of issues with this mare one at a time. The western saddle is just a trial on that journey.

                          Thank you to those who have answered the original question as I had no idea how a western saddle was rigged and whether this was part of saddle fit.

                          Beau, no worries...she will not be forced to work in something that does not work for her.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I don't know how much movement we're talking about, but my western saddle moves a little bit under the cantle. Not nearly as much as it moves when I add a bucking strap, though. Those things are well-named! If I leave off the rear cinch, horse goes fine in the saddle.

                            So if you decide to add a rear cinch, my advice is to see what the horse thinks of it at all gaits before you sit in the saddle.
                            I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' View Post
                              I don't know how much movement we're talking about, but my western saddle moves a little bit under the cantle. Not nearly as much as it moves when I add a bucking strap, though. Those things are well-named! If I leave off the rear cinch, horse goes fine in the saddle.

                              So if you decide to add a rear cinch, my advice is to see what the horse thinks of it at all gaits before you sit in the saddle.
                              Amen to that

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I suppose you could try a rear cinch to see if it helps, but a lot of vertical movement isn't good. My saddle fits my mare and is designed to be used with a rear cinch. However, the saddle doesn't bounce around much if I decide to forego the rear cinch. On my boyfriend's horse, though, that saddle resembles a teeter-totter when she gets going.

                                Definitely give your horse a lunge session with the rear cinch. My mare is a tried and true western horse that sat in a field raising babies for a decade. When I threw a saddle on her for the first time, I could see the wheels in her head turning when the rear cinch was buckled up. She tolerated it until we got to the round pen. Then she started corkscrewing all over the place. Let me tell you... I was sure glad to be watching this from the ground. After about 5 minutes, she got that all out of her system and has been a gem since.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' View Post
                                  Not nearly as much as it moves when I add a bucking strap, though. Those things are well-named! If I leave off the rear cinch, horse goes fine in the saddle.
                                  While it is a very good idea to make sure your horse is comfortable with a rear cinch before you mount up, a bucking strap and a rear cinch are two completely different things.

                                  Rear cinch

                                  http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k2...psa52b2e00.jpg


                                  Flank strap (AKA "bucking strap")

                                  http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k2...psb2337425.jpg
                                  It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Have to totally agree with beau159, Billy Cook saddle as described is NOT FITTING the horse correctly. Rocking up like that is poor fit so rear is rising. NOT acceptable for riding this horse. And while adding a back cinch is fine, it STILL won't stop the problem, motion will just transfer to make trouble elsewhere on the horse. Could rub sores on her belly instead, with constant pulling! Don't think horse would like that!!

                                    I never use my back cinches on the Western Saddles, they interfere with my feet giving signals. Kind of like pushing on a door, nothing happens with a heel on that HEAVY strap. I am not roping, so it really has never been a problem leaving the back cinches off in how the saddle fits during riding times. Horse is VERY responsive to my leg and foot, heel, because I am touching skin, not straps.

                                    Saddle should fit horse rather like an English saddle, THIN pad under so tree is actually laying on the horse for assessing the fit when you run hand under saddle. You an feel where it touches, bridges, pinches or you can get BOTH hands under easily. Not any of those are good in fitting this saddle to THIS horse.
                                    The Sporthorse body, can be difficult to fit in a Western saddle. I know, I want thru almost 100 trying them on my mare. Went to a LOT of shops, tried old and new, put my hands under those saddles, with a rider sitting on her, to see how saddle was touching her. Lucky for me, our horses are so similar in body type, the same saddle fits all the others equally well!

                                    For OP, you need to get some other models of saddles, try them on the horse and run your hands under the saddle to see if ALL the tree is touching, spreading the weight comfortably over her back area. Have a rider seated in the saddle when doing this, with a towel as your ONLY padding. Length of skirts was another "big deal" on my Sporthorse, since they are all VERY short-backed. Some saddle skirts would poke them in the loin on turns. One "special saddle" had such a big skirt, the back totally covered her loins almost to the top of rump!! Must have been one LONG BACKED QH that it was made for!

                                    So far, I agree with everything beau159 has told you, is great advice. Adding the rear cinch, changing pads or blankets is NOT fixing the REAL PROBLEM of "saddle just doesn't fit the horse".

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      That Billy Cook does not fit
                                      What a back cinch does, is stabilize that saddle from a slight side to side movement when riding in rough country
                                      Outfitters that ride a lot in mountains will tell you that if you ride with one of the two cinches loose, make it your front cinch
                                      My show saddle does not have a back cinch, but my working saddle does, and when I ride in mountains, it is done up snug.
                                      It is a back cinch, not a flank cinch, which is used on bucking horses. Use a hobble strap to connect it to the front cinch and to keep it from slipping into the flank area, as then you have the effect of a bucking strap!
                                      Never had a horse buck because of aback cinch, rigged correctly

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        OK so first I am not all that experienced but I really LOVE my horses, so I tend to obsessively worry about everything. Second, this thread hit me really hard as I have a custom fitted lightweight western saddle that ALWAYS is up in the rear until I sit on it. I have no idea what it does when I'm posting, but tomorrow I will ask my hubby to take a look at me. I had to get a thinner pad/blanket as the thick, stiff (pricey!) pad I first bought was so stiff, I couldn't get the cinch tight enough to even safely mount up. The saddle was too light to flatten the stiff pad. Now I have no problems with the cinch, but I'm worried that the thin padding is not enough for my hose's back. I ride a spotted draft mare, very wide horse. I'm a bit hefty so a draft is perfect for me. So my burning question is: Should I get a rear cinch? Or do you think my custom saddle is a poor fit and should be replaced?

                                        Comment

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