Tag Archives: Vertebral column

Let’s See The Underside of Your Saddles

Having a horse with many issues is both heartbreaking and enlightening. Many athletic, healthy horses or extremely good natured, laid back ones put up with huge amount of training and management abuse without batting an eyelid. Now, if you have a horse with a plethora of problems who is unable to move in correct movement sequence when badly shod, when having side reins fitted, when saddle sits not quite where it should do, when you don’t sit straight…consider yourself lucky.

Horse with physical issues that are not a lameness and that eight different vets feels helpless in identifying opens your eyes so wide they never squint again. Even better, you start seeing a miniature version of those issues in horses that have no problems as such with their bodies but that are trying their best to communicate an issue without exposing themselves to danger…

One vet a few years ago told me that it’s interesting that we rarely see horses that “complain” upon a small physical discomfort like a person would. They get on with it, they adapt their way of going, way of holding their bodies so that whatever discomfort they feel is minimised. It’s a nature of a pray animal not to show its weaknesses and instincts often override thousands of years of domestication. 

Over time they strain more and more structures until it’s no longer possible for them to hide the fact that something is “off”. By the time this happens though, the intricate patterns of compensations have become like a labyrinth with many twists and turns and it takes thorough veterinary examination to find the real centre where it all started and where the treatment will be the most successful. 

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Secret Language of Sweat Marks

Who has never had a saddle fit issue is a one lucky person! When I was buying my first ever saddle in 1995 I had to trek many miles to a saddler and all I had to give him was the hight and type of the horse. He was a 16.2hh high wither Trakehnner and got his jumping saddle on that information alone :-/ No fittings, not even a photo of a horse for the saddler.

Thankfully, it’s a different story nowadays. We have some great saddle designs that can be fitted to both the horse and the rider well and come with some very good advice too.

As a horse owner or even as an occasional rider you want to know (don’t you?) how is your saddle doing on your horse’s back. There is a science to the saddle fitting and saddle check process and I will get back to it very soon but in this post I would like t odraw your attention to the secret language of the sweat marks that your saddle leaves on your horse’s back after you’ve ridden.

sweat marks
This horse’s saddle slides to the left matching his general motion pattern which you might happily classify as Right Banana… His dominant right foreleg and shoulder and crooked way of going also pushes the back of the saddle into right side of his spine every time he turns or circles. Small yellow circle on the side of the wither shows area of discomfort on palpation. A good saddle fitter can address all these issues but horse’s and rider’s training are both very important here.  

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