Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Saddle, up for review

Here it is, my beloved brown County Perfection. Looking at it now I seems a little close to the wither, but it looked right at the time. What do you think? Be honest!


  1. The fit looks pretty good from here, but the proof is in the riding. Does it ride up over the wither--the problem you had with some of the other saddles you mentioned? If not, that's a big plus.

    Does it shift to the left, the other problem we saw? If not, that's good too. Looks more even to me with Riley just standing there.

    Does Riley seem happy? That's the biggest plus.

    Designwise, I'd like to see the stirrups set a little further back, but over all the balance looks pretty good.

    It does look a bit low on the wither, but if it doesn't hit Riri there when you ride, that's good too.

    You need to ride for a while in it to see if it creates any kind of discomfort for Riley over time, but you may have a winner there.

    How's it been going.

  2. I have really been through saddle fit with my own horse - so not a fitter but ponder a few things.

    The balance point is a little far back. Joyce Harmon has a great book - the Horse's Pain-Free Back - and she shows a picture of a pill bottle on the saddle that is allowed to roll until it stops. If we did this on Riley and his saddle I think it would be farther back into the cantle than ideal.

    The saddle looks like it is a little perched in front, which leads me to think that he needs something a bit wider OR a saddle with a wider channel - more distance between the points but maybe not a wider angle. /\ vs / \

    Since it looks a bit perchy I wonder if it is bridging a little bit. I haven't ever touched a County so it is hard to make a guess but just looking at it on top of Riley, it looks like the saddle and back would not make consistant contact across his entire shape. Seems to be a difference there.

    I also get the impression that the saddle wants to be just a smidge farther back (when considering its balance) but that is clearly not going to happen re: Riley's width and its head plate. It looks like it would fit a slightly skinnier version of him.

    Highly recommend Dr Harmon's book - that's all from this ammy.

  3. PS: Riley looks like his "girth groove" could be pretty close to his armpit. If that is the case then you might have the added element to a saddle search of needing something where the girth & billets won't be fighting the saddle -- like a really forward billet or V billet system.

  4. Have you considered a Black Country? I'm not a saddle fitter but I've had tremendous success with their saddles. It's great for a wider flatter back horse and they are SUPER comfortable.

  5. My initial impression is that the saddle is not level and that the billets are not vertical--too far forward and pulled at an angle. I wonder that point billets (V billets) might now be a good idea. Also I wonder that he might be a candidate for a more U shaped tree--hoop tree.

  6. I guess you have seen this?

  7. Nice saddle!

    To my eye, the saddle looks to be a couple of inches too far forward. Does it slip forward while you're riding? (I think you mentioned this once...)

    It could be that you need to place it further back to start with, then you might need to look at the girthing arrangment as that could be contributing to it coming forward, if that's the case.

    My own experience with a horse with a similar type of back, the saddle kept creeping forward and I thought I needed a gullet change. So I toddled off to the saddle fitter, who told me the gullet was fine and to my dismay, put the saddle a good 4-5 inches further back than I'd been placing it.

    She adjusted the stuffing slightly to suit, but the major change she made was to the girthing arrangement.

    My saddle had the girth straps running internally down the inside of the flap (it's an older Bates Prix St George). She whipped them out of the flap and laid them at an angle across the flap. I wanted them replaced anyway due to age, so the new ones had the holes put in so they would meet the girth correctly while on the forward angle. (They look uneven when placed vertical.)

    My horse has a huge shoulder, a very forward girth groove and a big belly, so this stopped the girth pulling the saddle forward.

    The change made an obvious and immediate differance to the comfort and way of going of the horse.

  8. Looks like to me that the horse couldn't POSSIBLY move his scapula. If the saddle is sitting that tight on his shoulder (made obvious by the lifting in the front and tipped back at the cantle), adding a saddle pad would make it even worse. Would you add a thick sock to make a tight shoe fit better? No.... I am a saddle fitter, and this saddle doesn't fit. Horse won't be able to move freely through the shoulder... of course, unless you just want to do western jog, you'll be fine.

  9. I too think it looks too far forward on his back. I'm not a saddle fit guru but have discovered over the years that many people, including professionals, put the saddles too far forward. I started experimenting with my own horses and then with two different saddle fitters who we work with, and everyone (horses and riders) is happier now that we are putting the saddles in the right position.

  10. Hi! I love your blog! I am not a saddle fitter but I have ridden roughly 70 different horses over 15 years of riding, and have been able to use one saddle on all of them, my loved Kieffer dressage saddle. Somehow it has fit every horse.

    Might be worth a look?

  11. I agree with Billie. Most people put the saddle too far forward. As a kid, riding TB type horses, the saddle position was obvious and well defined, so it was easy to place the saddle correctly.

    Now I ride a warmblood and a pony, neither of which has a clear saddle position like a TB. It took some education by a saddle fitter for me to realise my error, and now everywhere I look, I see saddles that are too forward and interfering with shoulder blades.

  12. It looks a couple of inches too far forward on him -- maybe exacerbated by the forward girth groove. As it is, it would really restrict his shoulder.

    Hard to tell how it would fit if it were farther back.


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