December 2018

  Happy Holidays from Terry Peiper, Fit Right Saddle Solutions!  I hope this eNewsletter finds you and yours doing well and enjoying the holiday season. 

  We are making huge progress on the new barn. It is so exciting to see it all come together.  Larry is putting down rubber mats in the stalls and we are starting to run electric.  

 Our next Basic Saddle Fit class will be in the new barn on March 16, 2019 9am-4pm

  The Basic Saddle Fit Class is for riders to learn to recognize good and bad fit with their own saddles.  It is not about learning to fit saddles. Participants will gain a better understanding of the anatomy of the horse's saddle support area, the guidelines of good fit and what if anything can be done about it.  After these 2 interactive presentations, we go to the barn with the saddles the participants bring and evaluate the fit of those saddles on my horses.  By the end of the day everyone can easily tell which ones fit, which saddles don't fit and most importantly why.


 If Crossville, Tennessee is too far for you to travel, get your friends together.  I will come teach the class at your facility and the best part is the hostess gets to come for free.

  My very good friend, Sam Papalimu from Clark, Colorado recently published a very informative article about saddle pads.  Since saddle pads are a HUGE part of saddle fit, I want to share it with you.  Yes, some pads and girths are very helpful and can improve the horse's comfort.  But, some saddle pads and girths can cause more harm than good.  Every horse/saddle combination is different.

  Sadly, consumers have been led to believe that we can fix a poor fitting saddle with a special saddle pad or girth.

 One retailer advertises:

  If Your Horse Has This Problem  =  Then You Get This Pad 

  Well, let's look at a couple.  The first problem is your horse is sway back.  So, they recommend you buy this special pad that is built up in the middle.  Well, yes that might work if everything else about your saddle fits correctly and the amount of hollow space between your horse's back and the bottom of the saddle is pretty close to the build up in the pad.  You would have to be extremely lucky for all that to match up correctly.

  The next problem in the catalog is your horse has muscle atrophy behind the shoulder.  So, they recommend you buy this special pad that has strategically placed wedges filling in the area behind the shoulder.  Again, you would have to be really lucky that they mass produced a pad that matches your horse's shoulder holes.  I would be willing to bet that if you have muscle atrophy behind the shoulders, you need a different saddle.

 Dr. Ruddock explained to us how shoulder holes and muscle atrophy are caused by a poorly fitting saddle at the Horse Dissection Clinic

click on the picture to see the video  

  The next problem is your horse has hollow wither pockets.  The solution is a pad with adjustable foam padded shim   Winner!   The saddle pad also has wither relief and is made of a good quality wool felt.  Again, the saddle still has to fit in all other areas.  That is basically what I do when I build a shim pad for a client.  I adjust the Thin Line shims to fill the space between the horse and saddle.  It is very important that we don't over shim which is why I get so frustrated with these preshimmed pads.

  As Sam explains in her article, be careful with pads that are not contoured on the top like the shape of the horse.   I saw a horse just the other day being ridden in one of those saddle pads with the hole in the wither area.   

This is an example of a pad that can be very tight in the front.  If you use one check it frequently.  Even though we pull them up when we saddle the horse, they can still get tight while you are riding.

 The hole is supposed to provide relief and comfort, but if you look closely at the front of the pad where the leather is stitched across, it can pull very tight across the wither putting painful pressure on the supraspinous ligament.

  The saddle I saw the other day was also too wide in the tree angle.  When a saddle's tree angle is too wide, there won't be any clearance between the top of the withers and the bottom of the pomel and/or the bottom of the bars are not actually touching the horse.  A big thick saddle pad does not fix this problem because the pad is the same thickness at the top as it is at the bottom.  So with the pad on the saddle still doesn't have any clearance for the supraspinous ligament to lift the vertebrae which is what allows the horse to lift his back and be "round."  And the bottom of the bars still are not supporting any weight, which causes the pinching action at the top of the shoulder blade.  The horse was extremely sensitive all along the supraspinous ligament and the day I was there, he was lame in the front.

  Saddle fit really does make a difference.  Here's the link to Sam's article.   The Power of a Pad

This is an example of a tree angle that is too wide

  As always, thank you for reading my eNewsletter, for sharing it with your friends and for helping me help the horses.  I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy New Year.

TTYS & God Bless,

Terry Peiper, Fit Right Saddle Solutions

"Spreading the word about saddle fit and how it affects our horse's behavior, performance and ultimately the health of horse and rider."  (717) 609-2822