Have I bought the wrong saddle!?

Patterdale

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Hola
Finally managed to get a saddle fitter to my pony. I knew the one he had on wasn’t great, got it 8 weeks ago and his performance has gradually declined until a couple of weeks ago he started stopping at small fences so I’d stopped riding him a few days ago.

Before the fitting the saddler remarked that he had a fluidy lump on his back near his withers, I could hardly feel it though. She assessed his saddle and confirmed that it didn’t fit but said it wasn’t dreadful.

We went on with the fitting, trying lots of different saddles without a numnah. Some I rode in for a few minutes, some I got straight off. Eventually found one that fit, she adjusted it slightly and it was really good on him.

I rode for a bit longer in it, had a jump in it, and put the jumps up a bit as I wanted to give it a good trial.
Then after jumping for a while, he was suddenly reluctant to go forward and presented as lame behind. I got off, there was a massive stone in his foot, so I pulled it out but he still wasn’t happy when I got back on.
We were all satisfied that the saddle fit (saddler was lovely) so I bought it and we left.

I drove straight to the vets which was nearby as I’ve had enough lameness to not mess about. Top vet was luckily there who thoroughly assessed him on the lunge and declared him sound as a bell. However - the small lump on his back was now huge, very easy to feel, tense and very tender. Vet wasn’t concerned and said give him two weeks off and it should go.

What would you think!? Is it just the long saddle fitting that’s aggravated an issue caused by the old saddle? We all really thought the new (secondhand) saddle fit him v nicely. The saddler wasn’t pushy at all for me to buy, but she showed me how and why it was a good fit and thoroughly assessed it ridden. I don’t blame her in any way.

I’m now panicking though that I’ve bought a saddle that’s lamed him!??
 

OrangeAndLemon

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Why not get the saddler back out to check the fit? Mine always expects to come back and check when we've made changes.

My horse gets a massage every couple of months and that is really helpful in looking for any subtle muscle tightness. I share the report with the saddler and farrier as necessary and it means I have a very happy horse.
 

Red-1

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As a person with 3 saddles currently for sale, I feel your pain!

Has he had the 2 weeks off already? As this would be the best thing to start with. If the problem persists after the 2 weeks off then you have to do more detective work.

The trouble is, you need to only change one variable at a time to get an accurate picture of what is going wrong. So, old saddle leaving a lump, many new saddles on his back, longer than usual being ridden, strange arena surface, stone in the foot... No one could sift through that lot to see what the issue is.

With me, I let the horse tell me how the saddle fits after I have assessed it fits within reasonable parameters. If the horse is happy, then I am happy (again, as long as the fit looks OK to me too!).

In your case I would start with stripping the saddle myself and giving it a thorough examine. I would make sure it is straight (a surprising number are twisted), that the flocking is even (loads are lumpy which would hurt over time) and I would also thump the panels all round to make sure nothing pokes through under pressure. Then I would the saddler coming back out to assess basic fit, if you are not confident that it is a good one.

If that does not bring any revelations I would borrow a different saddle. The fit of this one only has to be basic as it is not to ride in permanently, so fitting one with a Prolite would be fine. The purpose is just to see if there was something about the way the current saddle fits is causing more problems the longer it is used. I have seen some horses go really well in rubbish fitting saddles as opposed to their usual better fitting saddles, but it is because the rubbish fitting saddle has not had a chance to bruise deeply as yet.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I am not promoting riding in rubbish fitting saddles, as I said even the saddle borrowed for the purpose of testing that variable has to be a basically acceptable fit, with the use of a Prolite or similar to accommodate it. It is not for permanent use, just to change the pressure points to see if a particular pressure point is causing issues. I used to keep an Ansur Treeless saddle for this purpose.

If the horse goes better in the borrowed saddle then yes, you need to change your saddle. Even if you think it fits, the horse is not happy. Happily yours is already second hand so you should not lose a deal of money on it. Maybe your fitter would have a similar size of something slightly different in stock secondhand?

If the horse is the same in a different saddle then I would go the vet route. Have a performance workup.
 

sollimum

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We have bought our saddles second hand. The saddler has always taken out all the flocking - amazing to see the different colours where other saddlers have just kept on adding a bit more over the years and completely reflocked the saddle so no hard lumpy flocking and a fresh start going forwards. I would definitely ask your saddler to do this for you.
 

be positive

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Unless I am interpreting your post wrongly the horse is still on his 2 week break to give the sore area a chance to recover so at this stage there is no reason to panic about the new saddle being wrong, the old one will have started the issue and it is likely that the saddle fitting session compounded it and made matters worse.
I would get a physio out to assess him before starting to ride again, do some groundwork to keep him in work and ensure the sore area is completely healed before putting any saddle on him, it could take longer than 2 weeks if the bruising is very deep, so allow as long as required so it does not flare up again and you can give the new saddle a fair chance.
 

Patterdale

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Sorry I wasn’t very clear - this all happened yesterday afternoon. I’ve had a good look at the new saddle and there’s a very very slight lump in the flocking on the side that he was sore on, but much further back (I was really looking for it). So I’ll smooth it out if I can.

I live in a v remote area, it’s a 5 hour round trip for me to meet the saddle fitter, or I’d just get another out next week for a second opinion.

What’s concerning me is that he actually refused to move and was lame with the new saddle. However, at the time we didn’t put the two together as we just assumed he’d gone lame, and he’d been going beautifully in the new saddle, much better than he had in the old one, for about 10-15 mins prior to this.

He did have a lot of saddles on his back though on an existing (very slightly) sore patch, so maybe it was just that!?

Why is it not just straightforward!!?? Have I actually gone for a saddle fitting, tried a saddle that made my horse lame, and bought it!?
Aaaaaggggghhhhhhhh I’m buying a bike instead
 

charterline

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Can you find a trusted saddler that you can post the saddle to, and get them to look inside, reflock to a template/photos.

Not the most desirable option but worth a shot
 

Velcrobum

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Sorry I wasn’t very clear - this all happened yesterday afternoon. I’ve had a good look at the new saddle and there’s a very very slight lump in the flocking on the side that he was sore on, but much further back (I was really looking for it). So I’ll smooth it out if I can.

I live in a v remote area, it’s a 5 hour round trip for me to meet the saddle fitter, or I’d just get another out next week for a second opinion.

What’s concerning me is that he actually refused to move and was lame with the new saddle. However, at the time we didn’t put the two together as we just assumed he’d gone lame, and he’d been going beautifully in the new saddle, much better than he had in the old one, for about 10-15 mins prior to this.

He did have a lot of saddles on his back though on an existing (very slightly) sore patch, so maybe it was just that!?

Why is it not just straightforward!!?? Have I actually gone for a saddle fitting, tried a saddle that made my horse lame, and bought it!?
Aaaaaggggghhhhhhhh I’m buying a bike instead
There is no point getting any saddle fitter out until the pony has had his two weeks off. He has had if I am correct 8 weeks of being ridden in an incorrectly fitting saddle during which time his performance declined. So he needs time for his back to settle before doing anything further and if he were mine I would get his back looked at by a vet before putting a saddle back on .
 

Patterdale

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Yes I’ll definitely give him his two weeks off before doing anything.
In the meantime he’s having arnica, the ArcEquine on, Bowen treatment (we can’t get physios out here unfortunately, but gentle massage can surely only help), and I’ll ride and lead him out now and then. He lives out full time too.

I’m just stressing that it’s the new saddle that did it!? But I suppose I need to just wait.
 

little_critter

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I would be surprised if a saddle that appeared to fit lamed your horse in such a short period of time.
He’s probably sore from the old saddle still and maybe the saddle fitting session aggravated that soreness.
See what he’s like after 2 weeks.
 

Red-1

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I thought he went lame suddenly then a huge stone was fund in his foot, then he was sound at the vets?

I think there may be 2 issues here;

1. Lame suddenly with a stone in his foot.
2. Sore from a previously ill fitting saddle.

The vet says 2 weeks off, so he needs 2 weeks off. Then see how he is. He may well be sound and going well in his new saddle.
 

sbloom

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Document everything in an email to the fitter to keep her up to speed. If you keep the saddle for a month then you have fewer rights to return, so let her know you suspect a possible issue.

Odemas are tricky, they usually have an area of pressure adjacent, if on the back of the withers I would suspect that your previous saddle, or possibly this one, has too upright rails and is putting too much pressure through the panels either side of the lump. If the new saddle is better fitting then I would expect the lump to come up, but to come up less each time, and to go away quicker each time. it can take a while which does make it tricky. If you trust your fitter then go with her, but I'd be chatting it through in detail and putting concerns in writing (in a nice way, I'm sure you'll treat her like a human being but you'd be amazed at how many think they can be as nasty to us as they'd be to Network Rail!).
 

Patterdale

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Thanks, yes I’ve sent her a friendly email just updating her on what happened at the vets. The saddler was lovely, took lots of time and didn’t rush me, explained how and why the chosen one fit and didn’t do the hard sell, so I dont want to start blaming her.

My concern is that whilst his performance had declined in the old one, he hadn’t been sore to the point of not wanting to move. But that could have been because we’d tried so many different ones with no numnah, and he already had slight oedema before we started.

I suppose all I can do is wait the two weeks and see what happens. If still v bad I’ll have to get a second opinion on it somehow.

The lump/oedema/sore patch on his back (to the side of and slightly behind the withers) has now gone down to almost nothing and he isn’t tender on it at all.
 
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