Augh! (Saddle innards)

galadriel

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Originally posted by KarinUS
Do they have an explanation why the majority of saddles are designed narrower in the back?

Do they have any preferences or suggestion?

Explanation:
People want a more narrow twist, and in order to get the narrow twist, the gullet is made narrower. You can get around the appearance of the gullet narrowing towards the middle by making the front look nice and wide. Most people never even look at the back. I certainly didn't.

Suggestions:
Several.
1) Find a saddle that fits better. When asked for suggestions of brand names, he just shrugged. Said that the saddle industry fluctuates heavily, and a saddle that becomes popular usually goes down in quality almost immediately as the company tries to cope with increased production for increased demand.
He said that County and Schleese saddles are definitely made with quality control, individually made and well done. He also liked Passier. But he also said that you can't count on something that is good today still being good tomorrow. And some brands that are sloppy today were quite good in their day. You just have to examine each individual saddle to see if it is any good.

2) A saddle that was made with quality materials can sometimes be altered. You can take the saddle apart and change the shape or placement of the panels to make it a consistent width across the gullet. Since I am not putting my Courbette back on a horse in its current condition, I'm planning to take it apart and see what I can do. I'll surely post with my results :) even if it's disappointing.
 
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galadriel

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Originally posted by ros
3. How much damage can you actually do with a badly fitted numnah that presses on the spine?

Pressure that grabs and pulls at the spine can cause quite a lot of damage. It would be creating a pressure point at the top of the spine, similar to a pressure point anywhere else under the saddle, except that the skin is quite thin across the top of the spine.

I understand that necropsies done on racing TB's show wide areas of deep black (dead, wasted) tissue under the points of the exercise tree (a nasty equine torture device). Pressure points on the thick muscle can cause bruising and death of tissue. Think how damaging it is when there isn't a lot of tissue to absorb the bruise. Rather than affecting the thick muscle, it would be affecting the edges of the muscle where it attached to the spine, the ligaments along the spine, and the spine itself.
 

ros

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Always happy to converse with you, Galadriel, whether we agree or not :) .

I actually suspect we do agree on this - it's just a question of being a bit more precise in how we explain ourselves, perhaps? (Or at least how I explain MYself!)

I agree absolutely that there should be no pressure on the spinous processes. However, if you cover them with a substance which is thick and springy, I think you get something more akin to cushioning than pressure. I don't say it's ideal, but I reckon that must be how you get away with the better variety of gulletless treeless saddle, or indeed the saddle pad/blanket (the ones you use as a substitute for, and not with, a saddle). The numnah that pulls down on the spine is a different matter.)

On a normal horse - well-muscled and not underweight - the main part of the vertebrae and their transverse processes should be pretty well-protected by the ligaments and muscles that attach and lie adjacent to the spinous processes. If the panels are the right shape for the horse and flocked correctly, they should allow the muscles to do their job without restriction and the spine will still be supported efficiently and with no undue pressure, so even if the gullet is a bit on the narrow side it shouldn't do too much harm. If all saddles were properly flocked I think we'd see far fewer unhappy horses.

Put a narrow gullet coupled with thin, hard panels on ANY horse - even the ones with their own personal flocking - however, and you've got a problem. If the back muscles have to try to support the rider's weight while they're being flattened and restricted and are so squashed that they can't breathe, they'll start to atrophy, and when they atrophy the spine loses its protection, and then the horse starts to hollow away from the pressure because the muscles are no longer able to support the weight. It's a vicous circle.

If the gullet is too wide, you also lose some of the bearing surface, so the resultant pressure on the remaining area of weight-bearing muscles is increased. I wasn't quite clear what you meant when you said (sorry, I'm not quoting 'cos I've lost it & I can't go back to check without losing all this typing!) the clearance of the spine should be 3 to 4 inches. Did you mean above the spine, or either side, or in total? 3 to 4 inches either side would give you a total gullet width of 6 inches, which would be far too wide, so I imagine you meant either panel depth or total gullet width?

I agree that you should take each individual saddle as you find it, although some manufacturers are certainly more scrupulous and have better quality control than others. I also think it's a shame that some saddlers can't find a better way of regulating the twist than altering the gullet width :rolleyes: .
 

KarinUS

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Hm. I still don't completely get it. Looked at my own saddle tonight. It's an older model Courbette called Pandur Spezial. The channel in the center (that would be above the spine) seems to be about the same width front to back. I can fit 4 fingers but I have skinny fingers.
I am going to look into saddle fitting. This whole post just made it clear how clueless I am about this.
It's too bad professional saddle fitting is so hard to come by here!

Atrophying muscles! Now that's terrible. I hope my horse doesn't have atrophying muscles! What does that look like?
 

galadriel

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Originally posted by KarinUS
The channel in the center (that would be above the spine) seems to be about the same width front to back. I can fit 4 fingers but I have skinny fingers.

That sounds great, Karin. Terrific clearance. That's not how my Futura was at all--but I've taken it apart, and I think it can be resurrected better than before. I'm going to go post on it now (but it'll be a long post, may not even get done tonight).

As for looking into saddle fitting...well, I'm planning to write a few articles for my site (of course!) but if you ever feel like taking this course, I would encourage you :) It was simply amazing. (And you could meet Duchess and Katherine! And the doggies too.)
 

Bebe

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To be honest, I have no idea how I end up with a gullet in my Fitform, and arguably you could say there isn't a gullet (technically that's true) but there is some form of spine clearance.

I think Yann's Fitform doesn't provide the same clearance but Rio is a very different shape to Bebe which may be why this is the case.

My new Freeform (pics here: http://www.ultimatedressage.com/phpBB/album_personal.php?user_id=668) is supposed to provide true wither clearance (same as you want with a treed saddle) and a true channel. I'm jigging about with the wither plate on mine at the moment as when mounted I only get a small amount of clearance but I can ride with my hand under the pommel and side panels and there's no pressure at all so I'm not overly worried, plus I can change the wither plate if I need to. After an hour of very fast riding round the x-c course on a warm day there was completely even sweat marks on both sides of Bebe's back, with a very definite channel over the withers and spine. How this is created, I have no idea!

Galadriel, I had problems with my last treed saddle because there wasn't a wide enough channel over the spine. It fit in every way except this and I had a hard time convincing the saddle fitter that there was a definite problem. In a traditional saddle Bebe needs about 5 fingers width over her spine to clear it, otherwise she becomes sore and bucks/bolts when ridden (don't worry, didn't let that happen more than once before doing something). I couldn't find this in any saddle available at the time and didn't trust any of the local saddlers enough to have one custom made as no-one ever asked about this aspect of fitting. In theory a treeless that has no obvious channel should be the worst thing in the world for her but that isn't the case and she is very happy in hers. There must be something very different about how they feel to the horse for this to be the case.
 

Sarah B

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Having done courses with Heather Moffett and the Intelligent Horsemanship Foundation Course, both of which included sessions looking at the inards of several saddles, I must admit to being horrified - why does the saddlery industry have no quality control system? Why don't saddle fitters / shops send back to the manufacturers those saddles which are obviously wrong?


Both courses made the point that until we, the buying public, start educating ourselves and questioning the saddle fitters and manufacturers, the situation will probably not change! It was even suggested that if you go into a saddlers looking for a saddle and start discarding those with obvious faults such as twisted trees and non symmetrical fixures and pannels then the saddler will recognise that you know a bit about the subject and will show you a different range of saddles, leaving those less well constructed saddles to the buyer who will be taken in by the shiny leather or the high price tag!

Also, as a private seller, how much conscience do you have to have to destroy a saddle with a twisted tree and non symmetrical pannels / strirrup bars etc that cannot be fixed rather than sell it on to someone else to damage their horse and console yourself with caveat emptor / let the buyer beware?

The whole industry needs a bloody good shake up!!

Rant over!
 

KarinUS

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galadriel,

I just might! Honestly I am looking into the different kinds of certifying entities in respect to saddle fitting in the US.
The course offered by the Master Saddlers Association seems rather intriguing.
This might just be the horse related/ be your own boss kind of career I've been looking for.
And DJ will always have perfectly comfy panels! :D
 

galadriel

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Originally posted by ros
I actually suspect we do agree on this

Yes, it looks like we do :)

I wasn't quite clear what you meant when you said the clearance of the spine should be 3 to 4 inches.

I can clarify :) Where the majority of the weight rests should be 3 to 4 inches off of the spine. So the center of the panel:
panels-center.png

should sit 3 or 4 inches away from the spine.

Sometimes you can't get that; on a particularly narrow horse, you might not even want to. And if the panel is particularly wide, then the center of the panel might sit 4" off of the spine, but the panel edge would still be right next to the spine. So you have to look at the shape of the panel and where the center of the bearing surface is, as well as the actual width between the panels. But if you've got 3 or 4 fingers between the panels all the way down, then it's a good bet that the saddle will sit far enough away from the spine and probably not too far.


Bebe's case sounds really interesting and definitely goes to show that every horse is individual. Thanks :) for telling us about it, Bebe. By the way, looking at your pics, I don't think I'd ever seen a picture of her before. She's gorgeous :) and doesn't look at all the way I'd envisioned her.
 

galadriel

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Originally posted by KarinUS
This might just be the horse related/ be your own boss kind of career I've been looking for.

Heaven knows we need more saddle fitters in the US.

By the way, the course I've taken (http://animaldynamics.com/seminars/saddlefit/curriculum.html) is in the middle of some development. They've got this course, which was saddle fitting & flocking, and introduction to repair; they're planning to add a Level 2 course (saddle repair) soon, and then a Level 3 course (repair and also the beginnings of saddle construction) after that. It looks like going through this school, I'll be able to get prett far (as long as I can keep affording the courses!) Do you have web pages for the other courses you've been looking into?
 

CityGirl

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10 hour drive. Pshaw Toots, come to NY & we'll take the train into Baltimore, it's only about 2.5 hours. I would be very interested in looking into this.
I wonder how much a saddlefitter charges/how lucrative a career it is? Interesting...

BTW - apparently NJ has more horses per person than anywhere else in the US. Sounds like it could be an awfully good market & it doesn't appear there are any certified saddlefitters in NJ according to Karin's website.
 

Tootsie4U

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Oh, you shouldnt tempt me :D
Must be more like a 7 hour drive then ;)
I would absolutely love to do something like that. Im gonna have another gander at that website....
 

galadriel

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Originally posted by KarinUS
Master Saddle Fitters

Hm. Looking at it, I think my course went into more depth. It was a one week course, 9-6 for 7 days solid (was supposed to be 9-5 but we never left at 5--we also continued discussing while we were eating lunch). And all of this:
"basic conformation, anatomy, gait analysis, symmetry analysis" was considered a required pre-requisite, and so we didn't spend class time on it. More time for actual work with saddles & horses.

Looking at their "points of saddle fitting" I think we had a more extensive procedure; using things such as a spirit level to gauge the center of the seat of the saddle, rather than just trying to eyeball it. It also doesn't mention checking the center of balance of the saddle against the horse's own center.

They mention wither tracings but don't mention that the WHOLE back must fit the saddle, rather than just the front at the points. And they don't say anything about fitting the rocker/twist (a different measurement entirely).

We also went into a few things that the above page doesn't mention (although they may do it, they just don't mention it). We actually went out and did work at commercial stables. We got guidance for and experience in fitting a saddle for clients, and how to interact with clients. Information and skills are useless if you don't know what to do with them...

Eh :) Just my thoughts.
 

Tootsie4U

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Well, then, we need to get Gal up here to teach us the detailed way, now dont we :D You walked right into that one Gal :) hmm... checking priceline.com.....
 

galadriel

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Nah, just come down here and go to Animal Dynamics. Although if you want to fly me up there and pay me clinic rates, I'd be happy to consider it ;)

Actually I'm working on a clinic lecture/presentation. I'd still be happy to give NR discounts! (grin)
 

CityGirl

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It appears as though the average charge is about $65 for a saddle fitting + a call out fee to the barn. So if you do 3 a day, 6 days a week, 50 weeks a year, that adds up to not a bad bit of income.

Hmm.. maybe its time to leave corporate America:eek: :D
 

KarinUS

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I guess what appealed to me about the MSA was their background and I thought the anatomy part was so crucial to saddle fit that spending a day with a vet did not seem like a waste of time.
Here's a review on the 'camp' that was published in Dressage Today

But I agree. Their website is poorly done. Defintely not a marketing gem.
 
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