New saddle causing bad back - advice on how to approach saddler

SueAllen

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I bought myself, at vast expense, a brand new Albion K2 GP saddle on 14th December. It was professionally fitted. I thought this would be the best possible way of ensuring I had a saddle that fitted my horse. Today I had the physio out to look at my horse's sore back. She used the words 'horrified' and 'appalled'. She has asked for a photo of the saddle so she can use it as a training aid. What has happened is that the flocking has become so asymetrical that it just doesn't fit him properly and it doesn't sit evenly on his back. I know that I needed to monitor it and was advised by the saddler that reflocking would be needed 8-10 weeks after purchasing the saddle (we are about week 8 now). However, the physio considers that the amount the flocking has moved is way more than the amount of use it has had. (two weeks off over Christmas then hunting on average twice a week with one or two hacks each week) I am not particularly deformed so I don't think I have had an adverse effect on the saddle! She advised me NOT to put the saddle on the horse again, not even reflocked, and to contact the company for a refund or replacement. Has anyone had a similar problem and how did it work out? I am gutted as I really like the saddle and it was so much more than I could really afford.


Would be really interested in your thoughts. Apart from the ones where you think I am a complete dork for not noticing this myself and sooner. I know that already now - bit of a novice and scaling some fairly steep learning curves!


http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e157/SueAllen2/Flockingproblem.jpg
 

pottamus

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Is it the flocking that is causing your horse the problems...or the general fit too? I would be honest with the saddler and tell them the problems you are having and ask them to put it right. If it is the flocking, that can be fixed and you could still use the saddle? But to say the saddle is wrong after 8 weeks is going to be difficult...
 

Patricksmum

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That is really bad luck for you. Was the saddler a member of the Society?
The proceedure would be to contact the person who fitted the saddle & explain what has happened. Ideally they should come out at the same time as your physio/vet/back person to see what has happened. Give them a chance to rectify the problem as no-one wants an unhappy customer!!

With plenty of dialogue between you all this should be sortable whether it is by reflocking the current saddle or changing it for another make.
If you have no joy, you can contact the Society of Master Saddlers & ask for advice, maybe you can get a refund or something.

If they are not members then you are at the mercy of their good nature, but do contact them first & ask for it to be sorted.

Good luck
 

henryhorn

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I don't think you can blame yourself as you called in the expert... The flocking does move, I remember the fitter coming back to our hand made saddle, asking for a crop and whacking hell out of it to move it over!!
Whatever you do do not ring write and keep copies of all correspondence, has the physio written a report or was it verbal? If so ask for a written report.
If the saddler arrives, have an independent witness there to listen to the advice, and write down afterwards exactly what was said.
I think you have cause for a complaint and if that saddle goes on the horse again get a second opinion before riding on it.
If all else fails provided you have enough evidence, the Small Claims court will be the place to go.
Good luck, I really hope it doesn't turn awkward, but just incase, be prepared..
 

lexiedhb

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Flocking does tend to shift ALOT!!! I had my dressage saddle readjusted 3 times ( in about a year) after I bought it new, the saddler however was MORE than happy to do this for me........ I hope your is as understanding!
 

Bosworth

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just speak to your explain what the physio has said in fact you can get the physio to speak to the saddler. I will happily work with physios/ osteos and vets to ensure a saddle is not harming a horses back. If they are a professional they will be professional enough to deal with you in a professional manner. If they won't then you are perfectly within your rights to demand your money back as the saddle is not fit for purpose
 

SueAllen

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The general fit seems to be very good and surely it should be if it was professionally fitted? I agree that the time elapsed could make it tricky but the fact that the flocking has altered SO much and is so asymetrical and has caused the horse back problems in a relatively short space of time is something for concern.
 

SueAllen

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Saddler was a member of the society so at least I feel there is some professional body at the top if there are any problems getting the saddler to put it right. I will contact her to see what they she can do to put things right and I agree that a meeting between her and the physio would be a good thing ....except for my pocket! I've already had to pay out £45 for the physio, getting her back and the saddler would be approx £80! I
 

SueAllen

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Hey - you sound as organised as me HH!! I am a big fan of putting things in letters - keeps it all in black and white and on record in case people 'forget' what has been said in telephone calls etc!! I haven't asked the physio for a written report but I think she would be very happy to - she really was quite appalled at the saddle.

I am hoping that it won't turn awkward but would like to make sure I have a plan of action if it does. In a situation like this it seems there could be a lot of potential for buck passing.
 

SueAllen

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I do too but I will get charged for each visit, making an expensive (for me anyway!) saddle even more expensive. I suppose I am very disappointed that I made the effort to get the best I could (well couldn't actually - but that's what credit cards are for!!) afford for my Ned, brought in the professionals and in such a short space of time I have a problem, physio bill and no saddle!
 

SueAllen

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I take it from that you are a saddler? Certainly seemed professional enough when they came out - so fingers crossed that the 'after sales' service is up to the same level!

Thanks for everyboody's help. I now have a clearer idea of what I can expect.
 

Bosworth

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yes I am a saddler - and just because you had a saddle fitted by a saddler does not mean it fits - there are some saddlers out there who have no interest other than selling you a saddle.

A saddle can be built twisted from new so no guarantee it was symmetrical when it was first fitted. It should not be causeing the horse any pain whatsoever if it was fitted correctly. Assuming the horse had a decent back in the first place.

Did you use it with an elasticated girth on the off side. If yes then I would expect the saddle to have gone off to the right.

Flocking can move dramatically on a serge under side - but not so much on a leather panel.

The saddler may be able to balance it up by simply reflocking - and I mean total reflock from scratch - removing everything that is in there and starting again, you then need to look closely down teh panels to ensure it is symmetrical. Are you able to post pictures on the web so I can have a look and see how it fits - and also a view of the underside so I can see how symmetrical it is

Jacqui
 

SueAllen

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Are these two pictures of the underside any help to you? I can take others from other views if it will help. When it is on his back it does look ok - ie level, from the side certainly. When I first got the saddle my trainer saw it on him and checked the fit and thought it fitted well. She is obviously not a saddler but does know something about it.

http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e157/SueAllen2/Flockingproblem2.jpg

http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e157/SueAllen2/Flockingproblem.jpg

The horse did have a decent back. It is rather 'dippy' and he is high withered but this was taken into account at the fitting - according to the saddler. His last check by the physio was under a year ago and she was very happy with his back. We had a treeless saddle then.

I used it with a non elastic standard Cottage Craft girth.

It was actually fitted slightly wider than he needs to accomodate his dippy back and high withers and give enough clearance. I was advised to use a Griffin Nu Med high wither numnah which have done.

Hope this helps. Really do appreciate your professional opinion. I feel rather out of my depth with this.
 

Bosworth

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Looking at the pictures it needs a total reflock and balance - it is totally aysymmetrical - however it is only from a photo and it may be the angle. The front looks lopsided and the flocking through the waist looks lumpy

. I am also not sure why fitting wide would accomodate high withers and a dipped back - never heard that one before unless they recommended you use it with a prolite pad to allow the back to come up. How much clearance do you have at the front - 3 fingers? is that with you on? Can you take a clear picture with the saddle on the horse - no numnah and another with the rider on board. Just a sit on so I can see what happens.

If I am fitting for a dipped back and high withers I would fit to prolite initially to allow the horse to lift it's back and work itself through the top line. In many cases you will lose a lot of the dip when the back is free to work correctly. Dips can occurr with narrow bridging saddles so you do need to fit wider but the saddle needs to be lifted to be clear of teh withers and eth prolite allows this to happen.

I would always recommend a griffen Nuumed hi wither numnah/saddle cloth as they are the best out there for fit and wither clearance but they will not help with saddle fit.

If you can put those two pictures up I will see whatelse I would suggest
 

flyingfeet

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To add my 2 pennies...

How do you know your horse has a sore back? Did you know pre or post the physio coming out?

Before calling your saddler every name under the sun remember there are a lot of dodgy back people out there!

Also IMHO back people are too quick to blame the equipment rather than the rider....(blaming the rider tends to curtail any repeat appointments as no one likes being told they are making their horse sore. Bad for business)

I don't think anyone can tell anything about the flocking from those photos- you need to feel it and compare from more angles.

However if you've got a problem have your saddler back out to look at it.
 

SueAllen

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The more pennies the merrier!!


I could tell he had a sore area on his back as he dipped away if I tried to brush it and the area felt quite hard compared to the muscle on the other side which had some 'give' in it. Also, if I did press gently on the sore area it set up a larger area of spasm in the surrounding saddle area. This didn't happen on the other side or anywhere else so I surmised I had a problem and called the physio out to look at it.

I have used the physio (chartered) before and she is very well known and highly thought of in the area so I do have a lot of confidence in her - however, she could be fallible like anyone can. She treated him for a similar problem when I first got him and did an MOT on him last year. I do trust her opinion.

I really do appreciate that I could certainly be some of the cause although my instructor who has been teaching me all summer hasn't made any reference to any major inbalance and she's not the sort to blow smoke up my a**e!!


I'm not really planning on hurling abuse at the saddler - I am making the initial assumption that they will deal with the problem in a professional way - but am also aware that they may well try to 'wriggle out' (for want of a better expression - I'm tired!) of accepting any responsibility.

In an ideal world I would get the physio, saddle fitter, independent expert and my instructor all in together to look at and thrash out the problem. Not very likely or very cheap!!
 

flyingfeet

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If you horse is prone to a sore back and the saddler does flair, it might well be worth suggesting that they give you a special price to install it!

At least with flair there will be no lumps of flocking digging in. Personally I've abandoned wool flocking, and have either latex or foam panels or flair (wow saddle).

Either way I'm sure the saddler won't mind adjusting the saddle as generally new saddles should be reviewed after 6 weeks.
 

SueAllen

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14 July 2005
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Many thanks for your time on this. I'll try to get some pictures tomorrow that will give you a better idea. I am determined to sort this out - learning a lot in the process too!
 
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