Tuesday, October 18, 2011

To Tree, or Not to Tree

I've touched on the subject of treeless vs. treed saddles before, and stated that there are pros and cons to both - BUT that each needs to be fitted correctly or problems will result.  Here's a thermograph (see here for more on thermography) that shows what can happen when an incorrectly-fitted treeless saddle creates pressure on the spinous processes:

Remember, blue is coolest and white is hottest (see the scale on the bottom).  That, in the words of the horse's owner, is a serious case of "wither sadness".  To the owner's immense credit, she knew something was wrong with her horse and spent a lot of time and money trying to pin-point his mystery lameness ... and finally the thermographic image found the culprit.

'Nuff said.


M8rix187 said...

Just asking here, but I had heard before that thermography is not the best way to determine saddle fit because temperature does not always relate to pressure. Would it not be better to use a pressure pad to determine this? I am guessing that in this particular case, the data ended up solving the problem, but is this always the case? I am asking for my and others edification, not criticizing.

Anonymous said...

I'm no expert (hahah!), but I think that thermography is another tool to the art of fitting a saddle. The fitter that I use asks her clients to ride for ~30 minutes before she reads the saddle to make sure that it's a fair reading of the temperature differences.

In this case the thermography wasn't actually intended for saddle fitting at all. The horse was so uncomfortable that I wanted to see where he might have inflammation. We were looking mostly at his feet and tendons before scanning the rest of his body and finding this inflammation.

Bif said...

I really like the turn of phrase serious "wither sadness". What a fun way to describe it (although nothing funny about the condition!).

Melissa said...

Do you happen to have an thermography scans on horses with well fitted saddles, or just 'healthy backed' horses? That would be a cool comparison.

saddlefitter said...

Thermography can be a useful diagnostic tool in saddle fitting, since it shows where the "hot spots" are. BUT you have to find out *why* the hot spots are there - is it a saddle fitting issue, or is it something else? Pressure reading pads are similar - they show *where* but not *why*; excess pressure can be due to an ill-fitting saddle, an unbalanced rider, a lump in the flocking, an asymmetrical horse, etc.

I don't have any thermographic images of horses with well-fitting saddles, unfortunately, but I do have some pressure scans. That's for a future blog post!

Christina said...

I've been a follower of your blog for a few years now, and I wanted to write to say I really appreciate your insight, humor, and candor. Please... please... keep up the good work. I really look forward to all you have to share. Thank you!

Bella said...

Hi. I'm a 6 year old OTTB and I just found your blog through a link someone posted on a message board. As a horse that has gone through a lot of saddle fit issues, I find the subject really interesting. I'm lucky to have an excellent saddle fitter and my mom checks my saddle fit every time she puts it on because my back can change so quickly with work, or rest, or growth, or just about anything else!

I'm not shy about letting her know if something's not right either. I hate a poorly fitting saddle. Right now I'm riding in an older Stubben Tristan and I love it! After restuffing, it fits me like it was made for me and my fitter checks it periodically to make sure it hasn't gotten snug again.

Before that, I rode in a Wintec because I was growing so much, my back kept changing. I liked it most of the time but there were sometimes periods where it just felt "off," like I was at an in-between stage. Not horrible but not like the Stubben.

So I'm wondering if you have an opinion about Wintecs or saddles with adjustable gullets in general? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Thanks for a great, informative blog! Oh, and my mom is originally from Vermont!