It’s Complicated – Part Three

by Fernando Cardenas, DVM

Picture taken by Marina Lemay

Does your horse have a persistent issue?
Could an improperly-fit saddle be causing the soreness?

When 3H vets went in search of answers, we learned from some of the best, and one of the things we learned was the importance of dialog. Your horse will probably let you know if he doesn’t like the saddle, but as veterinarians, owners, riders or trainers, we can begin a conversation.

Since there’s no such thing as an “even” horse or an “even” rider, and “crooked” is part of every rider/horse equation, then….a correct saddle fit is dependent on many variables.

We encourage our readers to begin a conversation with these questions from VetPD (E. Davidson, W. Tenney, E. Engeli, A. Gavin and VetPD)

  • “Is the tree width correct – does it follow the shoulder area down in the same line as the horse?
  • Is the shape of the tree correct for this horse’s back conformation? (You can’t put a curvy tree on a flat-backed horse, or vice versa)
  • Does the saddle settle comfortably behind the scapula and not further back than T 18?
  • Is there sufficient clearance at the withers, both at top and at sides?
  • Does the gullet shape accommodate the width of the spine and not sit on the spinal processes?
  • Is the saddle balanced back to front, with lowest part in the middle over the center of mass?
  • Is the saddle evenly balanced side to side? Horses with a large shoulder and big dip behind, drop the panel into that dip and rotate the saddle diagonally.
  • Is there an even bearing surface through the panel area?
  • Are the girth straps falling correctly in relation to the girth groove?”

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