I hope this email finds everyone well. Larry and I have been staying pretty close to the farm where we have plenty to do. And even though I have never been a fan of remote fittings, now it has become absolutely necessary.
Sometimes something bad has to happen so something good can happen. This time the good is I am expanding into long distance fittings. Of course, 10 years of doing it in person has really helped me prepare. The feedback has been very positive.
The beauty of having an adjustable saddle is that when your horse changes or you change horses, the saddle can continue to fit. The Specialized and TW Saddles don't take any special tools to adjust so, I have been getting riders to "measure" their horses for fittings and setting up new saddles via email and FaceTime. Sometimes figuring out the time zones is more complicated than the saddle adjustments.
Although it may require shipping the saddle, the Peter Horobin saddles that can be adjusted with a tree machine and wool flocking can also be fitted remotely. I can forward the measuring instructions, then do a video chat with you so that I see the saddle on the horse and evaluate the fit.
Also, since we have a system to set up the saddles remotely, I have listed all the saddles I have in stock on the website. The ThinLine and Christ pads and girths have always been on the website but now we have a whole page for what's in the trailer.
Saddle Fit Myths
Doesn't it drive you nuts that 10 different horse trainers have 10 different ways of doing things? Horses are so adaptable and tolerate, they are truly a gift from above to put up with us. Sadly, it is the same with saddle fit. There are different opinions on how a saddle is supposed to fit. Some differences can be explained by culture and disciplines but, sometimes even saddle fitters and saddle makers within the same discipline have different opinions. It can be very frustrating I know, that is why I do what I do. I was there.
I was also frustrated that saddles that seemed to work for the horses (and I had no idea what I didn't know then about that) absolutely did not work for me. My problem was hip and back pain. I was really struggling with the wide western saddles hurting my hips and that turned into back pain.
I even sold Nicholas at one point because I had too many horses and he hurt my back. Thankfully I found the TW Saddles that don't hurt my hips and got a Thin Line pad for my back. Nicholas came back to me years ago and now he my rock star! Saddle fit really does make a difference.
I think the #1 biggest saddle fit myth is that even sweat means the saddle fits and dry spots are bad. There are just too many variables to make a decision for or against a saddle based on sweat. Dry could mean tight or dry could mean bridging. Rubber pads make horses sweat and wool pads help cool. So on a hot day with a rubber pad there could be a lot of sweat. On a cold day with a sheepskin pad there could be no sweat. It does not mean the saddle does or does not fit. All we know for sure is if the sweat doesn't look right, you should probably check your saddle fit.
Another big myth is that you can make a saddle fit with a special pad. Just the other day I watched a very well known trainer on TV say "saddles should be custom made to the rider and padded to fit the horse." He also said that full Quarter Horse Bars fit most Quarter Horses, Appaloosas and Paints, saddle length is never a problem and the best or worst thing he said was don't worry about white hairs. This was last week, no wonder saddle fitting is so frustrating for people.
First of all, there are MANY different shapes of Quarter Horses, Appaloosas and Paints. To put them all together and say a saddle with Full Quarter Horse Bars will fit them is crazy. There is no standard measuring system regarding full and semi Quarter Horse bars. So even if you do have a typical stock type Quarter Horse there are many different saddle manufacturers that use the tern Full Quarter Horse Bars, and they have different widths and angles.
And the length of the saddle is critical! Some horse's will buck when a saddle is too long. Bucking is a big deal! I have seen many horses stop bucking when the long saddle was changed for a shorter saddle. My horse, Easy is one of them. Sadly some horses are running scared around a round pen until they stop bucking, literally being punished for reacting to pressure on their backs that could be eliminated with a proper fitting saddle.
Some horses will have trouble with leads and engaging because the saddle is too long. It is true that western saddles are longer and as long as the tree flares in the front and back, the extra length won't hurt the horse. But, when a western saddle does not make contact in the middle or is bridging, that means the saddle is tight on the shoulders and in the lumbar. Those are the exact 2 spots where the saddle should be flaring away from the horse. When the horse feels weight in the lumbar the reaction is to tighten the back muscles. It is an automatic reflex. Muscles tighten to protect joints and bones.
Some horses with tight backs are stupid spooky so we buy calming supplements and special saddle pads. That works for a little while until the horse can't stand it anymore so then we get the body workers. The body workers come along and push control alt delete and that works until we put the saddle back on again, then the problem comes back.
Another problem with saddles that are too long happens when the saddle goes to one side and rubs on the spinal ligament while we are riding. It is not a big deal to rub a little bit, but day after day, mile after mile eventually it will show up as a hind end lameness. Dr. Robson explains this in her book called How to Tell Your Horse is In Pain and What You Can Do About It. When we have a hind end lameness the vet recommends bute and a few days off. That will work until we put the saddle back on again, then the problem comes back. The next recommendation is usually hock injections. Sadly there are a lot of horses getting hock injections at a very young age that I believe because veterinarians have explained it to me is because of the "big old heavy western saddles."
One more big myth is gaited horses need gaited horse saddles. All horses need a saddle that allows their shoulders to freely come back under the saddle and engage or lower their haunches not just gaited horses.
My advice is listen to your horse. Horses don't lie, they only react. They are not influenced by marketing, famous people with sponsors or the latest styles. Trust your instincts. If you think there is a problem, there probably is. Get a real saddle fitter. Let the trainers do the training.
As always, thank you all for giving me the opportunity to help your horses with their saddles. I see some light at the end of the tunnel as our Governor has said I can do appointments again starting May 1. I am so excited to be going back to work! Stay well everyone!
TTYS & God Bless,
Terry Peiper, Fit Right Saddle Solutions
"Spreading the word about how saddle fit affects our horse's behavior, performance and ultimately the health of horse and rider."
Check out my video about storing the saddles so they stay nice.