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Saddle Fit a Cause to a Problem Horse
 By Winniefield Park   •   7th Jul 2015   •   2,298 views   •   0 comments
Photosensitivity in Horses

Iíve picked on handlers for not being able to trot their horses out at the event I recently volunteered at, and now Iíve something to say about the horses. Unfortunately, thereís not much a horse can do about its condition, and what Iíve observed is 100% about the rider. So maybe Iím picking on the riders again. Anyway, I noticed there were two things that consistently appeared when the judges and vets examined horses: chiropractic issues and saddle fit issues. Iíll talk a bit about saddle area soreness first because these two things can tie into each other.

If I had to pick one aspect of horse ownership to complain about itís saddle fit. It can be frustrating to find a saddle that fits your horse and even when you do find one, a change in the horseís condition can mean the saddle too, has to change. An improperly fitting saddle can play havoc with a horseís back and often, we donít even recognize that problems we are having with training, behaviour or lameness can be caused by a poorly fitting saddle. Iíve seen horses go from being Ďspuní to well behaved after someone took the time to fit the saddle properly. Saddles that pinch, rub or cause pressure points can cause a horse to either act out, or shut down, depending on their temperament. And, poor saddle fit can lead to chiropractic problems. Just being ridden can lead to misalignments, so adding a saddle that isnít right can really exacerbate things.

Related: Taking Care of Your Horses Back
Related: Understanding Your Horse's Back
Related: Sizing English and Western Saddles

One big Arabian gelding I saw trot out trotted with a definite hike in one hip. As he trotted, the one hip popped up noticeably higher than the other. Sounds like a misalignment, right? What could cause this? Well, we had just gone over the horseís back and found a tender spot in the Ďpocketí. Thatís the little depression behind the horseís shoulder, just below the withers and itís where the point pocket of an English saddle would sit. The pocket was rather deep, indicating some muscle atrophy, that wasnít happening on the opposite side. Right side tenderness - left hip popping up? Hmmmm... misaligned hips can be caused by a slip, conformation fault or other reasons. But do you think that this horse was trying to evade the pain of the saddle by using his opposite side in a way that caused his hips to go out of whack? Thatís my guess. A visit from a saddle fit expert and a chiropractor might help this horse a lot.

Then there are horses that just donít Ďuseí themselves well. Horses often arenít taught to carry a rider well - and by this I mean getting the horse off the forehand and using their hindquarters. Horses that are always on the forehand can end up with chiropractic problems. Eek! This sounds teaching the horse to go on the bit doesnít it? Thatís something most trail riders and many jumpers donít like to hear. Who wants to do all that dressage-y, fussy stuff? Thing is, when you give attention to how your horse uses itself and learn about the little things like how diagonals affect your horse, getting the horse off of the forehand, and teaching it to carry you properly you may be avoiding vague lamenesses, back soreness caused by the rider and you may even teach your horse to be a safer ride. What do you think?
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