From the desk of Terry Peiper, Fit Right Saddle Solutions, happy spring everyone! The exciting big news here is we are building a barn!! Actually John Miller & his crew are building the barn and they are doing a fantastic job. We couldn't be happier unless the sun would stay out for 4-5 days in a row so we can get finished.
This past month I have been all over Big South Fork, down below Knoxville and over to Murfreesboro doing saddle fit evaluations and demonstrating our Specialized/TW Saddles.
Sometimes, riders want to make sure their saddle fits their horse to prevent needless suffering. This is great and I am happy to help educate anyone that wants to learn about their saddle fit.
Sometimes riders are considering buying a used saddle and they be sure it fits their horse before they buy it. This is a great idea. I am happy to help.
Some riders have heard about the Specialized/TW Saddles and the 3-D fit system and want to see and feel how much their horse appreciates a saddle that fits. This is great too.
Yesterday I saw a beautiful well trained stock type paint having trouble picking up the right lead. Actually out of about 6 attempts, he picked up the left lead every time. His stride at the trot was short. His saddle was narrow and especially tight on his right shoulder.
A few weeks ago I saw another pretty paint, a spotted Saddlebred mare. When we headed out to the arena for the riding part of her evaluation, the poor horse was so upset and anxious that the rider had to do numerous circles to regain control before she even got to the arena. By the time she got to the arena and attempted one lap around we were both ready to give up for safety sake.
Her saddle was a very common western type with a bar angle that was too wide on the bottom not matching the mare's shoulder angle at all, it had little to no wither clearance and it was bridging. The saddle was low in the front causing the rider to feel off balance and insecure. The mare was a hot mess.
I adjusted a TW Saddle to match her width and shoulder angle giving her withers and spinal ligament plenty of clearance and no pressure on her shoulders. The mare instantly stretched and relaxed. She did not need to do any little circles. The rider was comfortable and well balanced and the mare was happy.
Thankfully this mare's owner realized that the saddle could be the cause of this mare's poor behavior and didn't punish her.
Also in March, we had our first of many Basic Saddle Fitting Classes here in Tennessee. After the anatomy and basic saddle fit lessons, we headed out to the barn with the saddles the participants brought. We had about 10 saddles and we used my 5 horses. We found that out of 10 saddles, 1 or 2 fit one of my horses. One of the saddles which was described as "will fit everyone" really fit no one.
One of the saddles angered Easy so much that he bit the lady that was holding him and kicked at me. My horse has been through NUMEROUS saddle fitting demonstrations, he knows the drill, he knew we were not going to ride, he doesn't ride anymore, yet simply placing the saddle on his back with no girth angered him to the point of biting and kicking. That is a pretty dramatic reaction. He was fine with all the other saddles.
How many horses act up when saddled get reprimanded? It is sad but true, we have all seen it. Please share the information about our classes so we can help more horses.
"It can be very difficult for horse owners to recognize when their saddle requires re-flocking. However, as a rule of thumb, the fitting of the saddle should be checked at least once a year; my preference is for every six months and more regularly if, for any reason, the horse undergoes changes in shape. In addition to the obvious causes - a long period off work, a hard season, the maturing and ageing processes - it should be noted that horses can undergo change of shape in terms of developing asymmectrically. "
This is a quote from the book Practical Saddle Fitting, a Comprehensive Guide to Saddling Horses and Ponies for all Disciplines author Ken Lyndon-Dykes
As always I want to emphasize that your saddle fit should be checked every time you ride and by a professional no less than every 6-12 months.
If you are in MD, VA or PA call Specialized/TW Saddles Reps
Karen Bates from Westminster MD 443-974-1715 or
Dawn Deihl from Millerstown PA 717-275-4299
Is your saddle a pain in the back?
Fortunately, our muscles tighten to protect so if we stop doing whatever it is we are doing we can save ourselves from nerve or disc damage and simply rest the sore muscles.
If you are experiencing back pain during or after your rides, stop riding in that saddle.
Here are the most common reasons why your saddle hurts your back:
1. If your seat is too wide for you, your legs will be spread apart putting painful pressure on your hip joints, your muscles will tighten causing muscle pain in your lower back. Stop riding in the saddle before painful permanent damage is done.
2. If your stirrups are hung too far forward for you putting you in a chair seat, you will lose the natural curvature of the spine causing pinched discs and nerves. Sometimes moving the stirrups back is possible and all that needs to be done. But, sometimes especially with female riders the leg goes forward because the seat is not allowing the leg to hang down. Do not force your leg back! Your leg naturally falls under you. If it is a struggle to keep your leg under you while you are in the saddle, we call this "fighting the saddle." Don't do it, stop riding in the saddle before painful permanent damage is done.
3. If your saddle is out of balance causing you to be in a chair seat, your back will lose the natural curvature of the spine and it's ability to absorb shock. The discs between your vertebrae are shock absorbers if the spine is not curved the discs are getting pinched. Stop riding in the saddle. Note that lifting the back of the saddle for your balance will usually cause painful pressure to your horse's withers. I never recommend lifting the back of a saddle.
4. If your stirrups are too long you will lose your ability to absorb shock in your hips, knees and ankles sending all the shock to your back. It is also more difficult to keep your balance. Your stirrups should allow gravity to pull your heel down slightly.
Note: Riding in a classical shoulder hip heel position is not only healthier for the rider but also for the horse.
As always, thank you for reading my enewsletter, for sharing it with your friends and helping me help the horses. I hope you are enjoying many happy comfortable rides.
"Spreading the word about saddle fit and how it affects our horse's behavior, performance and ultimately the health of horse and rider."