Friday, February 6, 2009

Going Into Detail Revisited

Once again, I'm re-posting one of the first blog entries, in an effort to make this blog more useful to the first-time horse owner. (By the way, if anyone knows how to access the archives, please let me know.)

As promised in my last entry, I'm going to go into more detail on the Heavy Seven, and the other issues that come into play.

First, tree width. Yes, the tree has to be the correct width; the points should lie parallel to the horse's back (as illustrated in the previous post). But in some cases, the tree can be the correct width and still not fit properly, because many other things come into play: tree shape, gullet shape, length of tree points and panel configuration all contribute to how well - or how poorly - a saddle fits. For example, let's say that you have a lean, high-withered Tb like this fellow here:

Here he is in a saddle with the correct tree width, but with the wrong panel configuration (too shallow):

As you can see, the saddle's sitting pommel-high; it will put the rider too far back in the seat and concentrate pressure on the rear half of the saddle rather than distributing weight evenly over the surface of the panels. And though you can't really tell it from the photo, there was also insufficient clearance over the wither, and the rider's weight would have caused the saddle to sit directly on the withers. (NOTE: This is one reason that so many horses with this conformation are labelled as "narrow", because without panel modifications, most saddles with the correct tree width will sit on the wither; hence the need to go to a narrower tree for clearance. This just causes more atrophy in the back and makes the horse even harder to fit properly.)

So what would have to be done to the saddle? The panel would obviouosly need to be thicker in the rear, but it would also need to be modified in front; in this case, a wither gusset:

and a dropped or trapezius panel:

The combination of these two panel options will "fill in the dips" below those big withers and lift the saddle up off the wither. The photo below roughly shows - in red - where the weight bearing surface will be on a "standard" panel; the green lines show the weight bearing area of a saddle with a trapezius panel and wither gusset:

UP NEXT: Channel width and panel contact. Stay tuned!

--Posted By saddlefitter to Saddle Fitting - The Inside Journey at 11/30/2008 04:16:00 PM


Helen said...

Hello. Under your title on the left hand side, if you click on '2008' under 'Archive' the original version of these posts come up.

If you want more posts to appear on your front page, you can alter the number by clicking on 'customise' at the top of your page once you've signed in, then click on 'settings' and then 'formatting'. You can have up to 500 posts appear on your front page, so you wouldn't really need an archive yet.

Very interesting articles though, even second time around! Thank you for taking the trouble.

saddlefitter said...

Helen, you're an absolute wizard - thanks so much! You've just saved me a lot of boring re-posting.

See, this is why I fit saddles rather than work with computers ...

Thanks again!

Carol Buck & Dottie Martz said...

great article! I am getting ready to be in the market for a saddle for my horse. He has lost 150 lbs and is a new size! So your article was most timely!

Melissa said...

Did you mix up the red and green descriptions this time around? I thought red was the location of a regular tree, and the green showed the wither gusset and trapezius panel...Awesome blog BTW! I have to say I'm checking for updates every day. I think I'm getting obsessed with this saddle fit thing...=)

saddlefitter said...

Carol and Dottie, I'm glad you're finding it useful.

Melissa, excellent catch - you were absolutely correct, and I've fixed it. Thanks.

Amy said...

Wonderful article! Thank you so much for providing this information for free. I'll be linking to this blog from mine. I foster and retrain TBs and the adopters very frequently have no clue about saddle fit. Hopefully you can be a great resource for them!

saddlefitter said...

Hi Amy -

Thanks for linking our blogs. I admire you for working with Tbs - not everyone has the finesse required. Hopefully I can offer some education and guidance for your adopters.