Thursday, February 4, 2010

Concerns about saddle fit

A week or so ago, after my trainer rode my horse especially hard, we noticed that he was quite sweaty over each shoulder and hardly sweaty at all underneath the rest of the saddle pad. My trainer was concerned about saddle fit, but when we laid the saddle on his back without the pad, it sat flush, with even pressure, all along his back. So instead of panicking and running out to buy a new saddle, for now I'm keeping a close eye on things.

There are two things I suspect may have had something to do with the dramatic unevenness of the sweat that day. I saddled him (rather than my trainer), and I think I might have gotten the saddle too far forward — I'd noticed that it looked too high on his withers when my trainer was riding. It was a subtle difference, but maybe it was enough to cause the uneven sweating (something I haven't noticed in the past).

I've also been using the two frontmost straps for the cinch. So now, in addition to being much more particular about where I'm placing the saddle, I'm also using the first and last straps, in an attempt to create more even pressure across the entire tree.

I've been closely monitoring the sweat marks afterward, although I haven't yet ridden him as hard or gotten him as sweaty as my trainer did that day. I've definitely noticed that he sweats more underneath the flaps than under the parts of the pad that have no pressure on them, which makes sense to me. He sweats less under the seat, but he still does sweat a little there, so I'm not positive yet that it's reason for concern. He certainly doesn't act like it bothers him.

Here is a picture I took after riding Panama yesterday. He was moderately sweaty, but it doesn't show up in the picture well, so I've created some visuals to help you out. The green line is the edge of the saddle pad (because I have a green pad), and the red lines marks the sweatiest areas (which weren't all under the pad, as you can see). The orange lines marks where he is less sweaty, and the yellow hashing shows where he was barely sweaty or not at all.

I should note that even the sweatiest parts (in red) underneath the saddle were no sweatier than his chest and in his armpits, which is where he was the sweatiest. This also leads me to believe there isn't a problem, but has anyone else found that their horses don't sweat as much under the seat as under the flaps?

Sweat marks under my horse's saddle

If you have a hard time seeing my shading, click on the picture for a bigger version. Also, please keep in mind that it is a pretty rough estimation of what I remember from yesterday afternoon.



At February 4, 2010 at 2:09 PM, Blogger Sydney said...

You need to read, and send the pictures to this blog very wonderful you will find the answers there that you need.

At February 4, 2010 at 7:25 PM, Blogger jane augenstein said...

Gilly's sweat pattern on his back is the shape of his saddle pad. I have a Parelli English air pad, yes, it is very expensive's the only saddle pad that I can us on him, I use shims too. I LOVE the pad and it's worth every penny to me. I had tried a lot of other pads, none worked. this one works with both my English and my round skirted western saddle.
I am going to check out the saddle fitter blog that Sydney mentioned too, sounds neat.

At February 5, 2010 at 7:37 AM, Anonymous Jackie said...

I've worked lots of different horses into a sweat in my riding days, and mostly in English saddles with square pads, and this seems like a pretty normal sweat pattern to me. The only time I've seen horses sweat evenly under the saddle is when they get really hot and sweaty. Ace tends to sweat on his chest and under the girth first. As he gets warmer he'll start to sweat under the front of the saddle flaps, and when he gets really hot he'll sweat under the seat and the back of the flaps.

I think this makes sense based on how I've seen their bodies heat up. As they get hotter, the sweat starts on their chests, then their necks, then their girth areas, and then back at their flanks.

If he's not showing any other signs of pain or resistance under saddle, I wouldn't think you have anything to worry about.

At February 6, 2010 at 1:04 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Sydney, thanks for the URL for that blog. I found the posts interesting but haven't found any answers quite yet. I'll go back again at a later date. Do you think she would mind looking at the pictures? I don't want to impose or take advantage.

Jane, I'm afraid I can't afford the Parelli name. LOL Especially not knowing whether it would work for Panama! It does sound good, but the only way I'd fork over that much money is if I could try it from someone else first. Unfortunately, I don't happen to know anyone else who can afford that either. LOL

Jackie, thank you VERY much for your comment -- you made some very good points there. You're right, that is the direction they sweat, even without a saddle -- front to back.

Today Panama got sweatier than the day I took those pictures, and again the sweat was heavier under the flaps and girth. This time he was sweatier under the rest of the saddle and pad, but it still wasn't even. My trainer again mentioned getting some kind of foam pad to even out the pressure, but I'm still not convinced it's necessary, especially since he doesn't seem to be bothered by the saddle.


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