Thursday, September 23, 2010

More on Saddle Fitting

This issue is one that I am constantly working with. And reading about a lot.

Back when I got my first Crates saddle (a FQH bar tree) I had a saddle fitter out to check the fit of the saddle. She thought it fit great. Wide enough for his shoulders, and followed the shape of his back well. Awesome, cause I had gotten a good deal on it too. She had me using a Reverse Wedge Cashel Pad to even it out, with a wool folded over pad over that. Right away, I noticed that he was getting similar dry spots to the one above. I asked the fitter about it again, and she said not to worry, we will just add shims to the needed areas. So I rode with the shims for a few months, but noticed that the dry spots were still there. She told me that it was fine, he would soon develop muscle there and the dry spots will go away.

I than started to notice that the shims were making the dry spots even larger. I called her again, and she said it was nothing to worry about. I talked to a few other people at the barn about it and they suggested to take out the shims; smaller dry spots were better than larger ones. So I rode without them until my saddle sold (needed a smaller seat size).

Than I bought my current saddle. Another Crates with FQH bars and a 16" seat. Seemed to fit him well just like the other one. Noticed the exact same sweat pattern with dry spots. Spent a lot of time experimenting other padding options. Rode in an impact gel pad a few times - dry spots. Tried a Professional's Choice pad - dry spots. Rode in just the Cashel pad - dry spots. Went to just the folded wool blanket - dry spots. Tried the wool pad with the shims - dry spots. Currently, I have just been riding in the folded wool pad.

Ive noticed that where the dry spots are, there is also an imprint of the woven wool pattern from my blanket on Milo's back. Woah. That means there is excessive pressure there. That is why the dry spots are there: because there is too much pressure there, and adding more padding only increases the problem. So buying a new saddle pad isnt the problem.

Ok, so now my saddle is too narrow across the shoulders, and too narrow along his back. Makes sense, Ive been working on his topline and he has broadened. But do I need to buy a new saddle? I think that since this was a problem with my last Crates, it could just be the design of the Crates saddles, that they are too narrow for his back shape. Ok, looks like I will have to be putting on other brands of saddles to determine if that is the problem or not. And unfortunetly, I dont feel like getting the assistance from the saddle fitter is going to help, as she kept suggesting to put more padding to an area that actually needed less.

I will need to be putting more research into other saddle brands (reining style) rather than other padding options.

Tuesday I tried a Cow Horse Equipment saddle from a fellow boarder. It is considered a FQH bar, but was also too narrow on Milo's shoulders. Seemed to fit his back well but didnt get to ride in it very long to see any sweat pattern.

Wednesday I tried my friend's Billy Cook Ranch Reiner (or Ranch Cutter, cant remember). It is considered a FQH and actually fit across his shoulders very well. It wasnt perfect, but it was the best one so far. Milo felt about as good as he has been in my saddle, still worked up into the saddle and lifted his back. He was a bit hesitant to lift at the trot, but he did seem distracted, so not sure if it was just him acting up or if the saddle was doing anything. When I took it off to look at the sweat pattern, there was nearly two dry spots on each side. One in the normal spot (but did not look like it was due to being too narrow-so shiming there could be an option) and one right below. The second one looked like dry spots from excessive pressure.

Well that gives me an idea of the Billys at least.

I am also really wanting to try a Bobs Custom on him. There is one I may be able to try on at the reining show next month, its a Todd Bergen. Im also considering Reinsmans, Dale Chavez, and a Bob Avila. Of course, all these name brands mean $$$$. But if its all we can find that is broad enough for Milo's shoulders that may just be what I have to do.

I found two Western Washington Bobs Custom Saddle dealers, one in Bellingham and one in Enumclaw. So maybe my best bet will be to haul out to one (or both) of those locations and try a wide variety of the Bobs and Reinsmans on him. I think my next step will be to call the two dealers and determine what kind of selection they have, if they take partial trade ins, or a layaway type program. *Sigh*

Ok reining friends out there, what saddle do you use? How do you tackle dry spot issues??


Anonymous said...

Saddle fit is a constant issue for me as well. I've also found that most supposed saddle fitters know squat - their objective is to sell you a saddle and that's what they care about most. My chiro has been a good adviser on saddle fit.

paint_horse_milo said...


Our issue is that once we replace a narrow saddle with a wider one, Milo build the muscle up into that until that one is too narrow. Than the cycle continues. LOL. But fortunetly, Milo should eventually stop building more muscle...right? He has been filling in the dips behind his shoulders, and eventually those should be even with his shoulders, hopefully ending at that.

Katie said...

Randomly came across your journal and I've had plenty of these issues.

I found that the Crates did not fit that great for my horses. We had a Reinsman reiner - it was awesome - sold it as it did not fit the second horse (mutton wither / no wither.) I have a Dale Chavez and it's a nice saddle - has alot of free leg movement - selling because husband has taken over my Martin and I bought the Chavez for him.

More importantly however - once you find some saddles that have better fitting, you might want to check with these guys about pads - - they have removable pad inserts - so you can change your inserts if you need to when your horse muscles up. You can also send them photos of your horse and they will help you.

Anonymous said...

Katie- Thanks for the insight. And I hope you stick around!

Story said...

I have a Jim Taylor reining saddle that I bought used for a pretty good price. It fits both my foundation QH and my arab pretty well so it must be wide! And I love the saddle!

As for saddle pads, I've been kinda looking at Thinline. They look really attractive for those cases where a thick pad will make your saddle too tight. People sure say good things about them. Although those Team Equine ones sure look nice too!