Slipping to back of saddle woes... me, the horse or the saddle??

happyappys

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Hi I am currently on saddle fitter 3 tomorrow, just wondering if anyone else has had this problem! I (and another rider that used to ride my horse) have found that we are 'thrown' to the back of the saddle as shown below when riding my horse Betty. She is Gelderlander so is very 'uphill' so wondering if it is just that which is taking some getting used to or something else! Anybody got any experience of this?? Thanks!

bets_zpsjisr8efc.jpg
 

happyappys

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Thanks for the reply, I have tried a different saddle today as shown below, same result! Looking at it you can see it's 'up at the front' and the balance just isn't right. Saddle fitter number three coming tomorrow so fingers crossed! What is your gelderlander like, this is my first experience of the breed, do you compete? What saddle do you use on yours please if I may ask?

66ab06c4-89b2-4567-a0ea-f82fb0de1d00_zpszitpo4rj.png
 
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old hand

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The centre of the saddle should sit flat then you can stay in the middle. I feel your pain as it was saddle fitter 3 that sorted one of mine. he was a similar shape and needed an extra wide saddle, wide gullet and a high cut back head. 3 sizes wider and 2.5 inches shorter than the other two said! They fitted a medium 18" and he took a an extra wide 16.5inch. from your pictures it looks like saddle is not fitted behind his scapula, you should put two fingers behind the scapula and then fit the saddle, I suspect yours will be too long if you do this. if you fit it too far forward it will tip backwards and try to take you with it. I got a K2 16.5 inch with a high wide head, luckily for me I found one secondhand. If you measure from two fingers behind the scapula to the last rib you will get an idea of the longest he will take. K2's have a big seat so the 16.5 is more like a 17.5 in other makes. Hope this helps, my chap bucked me 15ft up in the wrong one as it trapped his shoulders. That was before I decided to find out about saddle fitting myself as I was pulling my hair out and got hurt too. Also make sure that there is sufficient room around the head as some wide ones do not have enough room for a big boned wither at the sides. Good luck with the new fitter.
 
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Tnavas

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Your saddle is too narrow in front so fits tilting the seat back. Get a piece of chalk, place it on the seat so that it can roll, and see where it settles, should roll to the centre of the seat
 

sbloom

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The second saddle is definitely tipping back but it does NOT mean it is too narrow, you cannot in any way tell if a saddle is too narrow from looking at the it from the side, seeing as width is defined by the angle of the ribcage and the angle of the tree and how they relate. You don't have a lot of room there, you want something on a flattish tree but with wither height, with a super short panel and moderately deep rear gussets, but if you can push a saddle back off the wither, and keep it there, then as long as you can ride in a smaller seat size you'll have more ability to keep the front of the saddle down and the back up.
 

kamili

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have you tried one of these? http://www.perfectfitforsaddles.com/

It definitely looks like the saddle is sitting too high up on the front and too low on the back which is putting pressure on his back where you are sitting because you are not in the center of the saddle.


But deffo get a fitter out to check what you have and show them the photos. Are you putting the saddle in the right place on his back? Sliding it down from his withers in to where it should just sit comfortably itself? I'm not saying that this is what is happening but it could be a contributory factor. I've seen a lot of people not do this (myself included) and the saddle doesn't sit right at all.

Before you get a fitter out have a look at these videos, at least you will go in knowing a bit more and can figure out what is wrong before chatting to the saddle fitter.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA35A02DBF310BB9D
 
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Tnavas

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The second saddle is definitely tipping back but it does NOT mean it is too narrow, you cannot in any way tell if a saddle is too narrow from looking at the it from the side, seeing as width is defined by the angle of the ribcage and the angle of the tree and how they relate. You don't have a lot of room there, you want something on a flattish tree but with wither height, with a super short panel and moderately deep rear gussets, but if you can push a saddle back off the wither, and keep it there, then as long as you can ride in a smaller seat size you'll have more ability to keep the front of the saddle down and the back up.

Of course its too narrow! - if it were wide enough it would not be sitting up high in front! Same as if it's too low in front it will be because the saddle is too wide.

The withers and the area either side dictate the width of the gullet - too narrow a gullet plate and the saddle will sit too high and will also pinch the horse.
 

sbloom

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I'm sorry you're not correct. A saddle can sit too high in the front because it has too much flocking in it, because the tree is the wrong shape, or because the rear panel is too shallow. It can also tip back because it's too far forwards and up on the shoulder. Without a really good clear view of the front of the saddle indicating where the points are you can't possibly tell ANYTHING about width. This is why people run into problems with changeable gullet headplates because they think the same as you - too high in front put a wider headplate in. By no means always the right solution and can cause as many problems as it might solve. Width, clearance and front to back balance are all related but are not at all the same thing.
 

ester

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I was going to say why the rear panel couldn't be too shallow, making it wider won't necessarily make it fit as once you hit the withers it may still be tipping back!
OP a friend did have a similar issue with her very uphill gelderlander (was easier when he was 4 and still growing/being bum high made him more level. I can't for the life of me know what she used on him in the end. It is doable but I think you need someone who knows what they are doing so fingers crossed with the next one. In the second one pictured if you could lift the back a good 2/3" it might sit level!!
 

Tnavas

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I'm sorry you're not correct. A saddle can sit too high in the front because it has too much flocking in it, because the tree is the wrong shape, or because the rear panel is too shallow. It can also tip back because it's too far forwards and up on the shoulder. Without a really good clear view of the front of the saddle indicating where the points are you can't possibly tell ANYTHING about width. This is why people run into problems with changeable gullet headplates because they think the same as you - too high in front put a wider headplate in. By no means always the right solution and can cause as many problems as it might solve. Width, clearance and front to back balance are all related but are not at all the same thing.

Thank you - but I have been fitting saddles for many decades without any problems - I was after all taught by a Master Saddler! All the things you mention mean that the saddle is too Narrow - maybe if some flocking is removed it will fit - because then the space between the arch will become wider!

From the pictures we have both saddles look to be sitting too high - the first could be a little further back but the second is fine. The tree is too narrow and possibly the actual design of the saddle underneath is wrong. If a riser pad is needed then the saddle is the wrong shape and design for the horse.
 

Leo Walker

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The first indication that my horses saddle is too tight is me feeling very slightly like I'm tipping back. Its only marginal, but if I didnt sort it, I would no doubt end up the same. I think yours must either be too tight or not balanced properly. Definitely get a GOOD fitter back out. Not all fitters are any good!
 

ester

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Thank you - but I have been fitting saddles for many decades without any problems - I was after all taught by a Master Saddler! All the things you mention mean that the saddle is too Narrow - maybe if some flocking is removed it will fit - because then the space between the arch will become wider!

From the pictures we have both saddles look to be sitting too high - the first could be a little further back but the second is fine. The tree is too narrow and possibly the actual design of the saddle underneath is wrong. If a riser pad is needed then the saddle is the wrong shape and design for the horse.

Err you do know what sbloom does for a living don't you? A living she does well and with a plethora of happy customers? So she perhaps has fitted just as many saddles as you and likely more to more trickier beasts. Not all of the things she mentions will mean the saddle is too narrow at all. Please explain how the rear panel being too saddle does certainly NOT mean the saddle is too narrow - this also depends on the panel being gusseted, Nor the tree being the wrong shape, nor the flocking situation really (because really we are talking where the tree is).
I really don't see why you can't fathom that the tree could actually be too wide and still not sit level dependent on a horse's back conformation. Conversely it could be too narrow and still sit too high at the back if the tree is the wrong shape/panel wrong for the horse.
 

Tnavas

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Err you do know what sbloom does for a living don't you? A living she does well and with a plethora of happy customers? So she perhaps has fitted just as many saddles as you and likely more to more trickier beasts. Not all of the things she mentions will mean the saddle is too narrow at all. Please explain how the rear panel being too saddle does certainly NOT mean the saddle is too narrow - this also depends on the panel being gusseted, Nor the tree being the wrong shape, nor the flocking situation really (because really we are talking where the tree is).
I really don't see why you can't fathom that the tree could actually be too wide and still not sit level dependent on a horse's back conformation. Conversely it could be too narrow and still sit too high at the back if the tree is the wrong shape/panel wrong for the horse.

Ester - there is a lot that can be wrong when fitting a saddle - but in general if the saddle is sitting too high in front it normally is that the tree is too narrow - sometimes simply removing some flocking will correct it and sometimes adding a little more behind will level the saddle.

I am well aware what sbloom does for a living - doesn't mean I have to accept everything she says as gospel. As the OP is finding there are saddle fitters and then there are saddle fitters!
 

ester

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Reword that to 'sitting too low behind' because that is the problem here and I am with Steph in that neither photo shows it is too high in front/too narrow.
The point she was trying to make is that there can be a lot of that can be wrong when fitting a saddle and just because in general it might mean the tree is too narrow some cases aren't general and you have to look at the thing as a whole so she was listing the other possibilities so that the OP is aware of them - this is quite important as it gives the OP the questions she should ask of the new fitter to make sure those areas are covered. Whereas you made a statement of fact that it is too narrow which 1) is impossible to tell for sure from the photos, 2)makes out there is no other possibility when it is in fact possible that a too wide saddle with a plain or upswept panel could be too low behind too. I know this because we had this issue with an arab whose conformation meant that a plain ungusseted panel would never work for him regardless of tree width and that is before we even get on to tree shape - which no amount of flocking adjustment is going to account for.

I am :eek3: that you think it is appropriate to imply that she is a bad saddle fitter because of the helpful points she has written on an internet thread, even if for some reason you think you know better.
 

Tnavas

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I am :eek3: that you think it is appropriate to imply that she is a bad saddle fitter because of the helpful points she has written on an internet thread, even if for some reason you think you know better.

Where am I implying that she is a bad saddle fitter - the comment made was that the OP was on to the third saddle fitter and that not all saddle fitters can do a good job - I certainly did not mention sbloom in that comment.

Modern heavily gusseted saddles are often hard to fit, personally I think they are the cause of many horses problems. Less gusseted saddles are far easier to fit - unfortunately these days everyone is after a deep seat saddle so they don't fall off so easily! Some of the current designs are ugly! Love my tidy stream lined Fulmer Dressage saddle. Positions the rider beautifully and is comfortable for the horse too.
 

ester

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I am well aware what sbloom does for a living - doesn't mean I have to accept everything she says as gospel. As the OP is finding there are saddle fitters and then there are saddle fitters!

Ah so although in the same paragraph the second sentence didn't relate to the first, my bad.
 

Goldenstar

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Well no one can tell why that saddle a bad fit from looking at those pictures but a bad fit it is .
I have a Dutch harness horse who was a night mare to fit when I first backed him at ten he needed a saddle with lots of space for flocking behind otherwise nothing sat level .
He spent a long time with a memory foam pad stuffed under the back half of the saddle to level it up not ideal but it worked .
It would have been very tempting to widen the front of the saddle but this would have just given you a second issue .
In the pictures the rider looks as though lengthening the stirrups a little might help her to to sit easier in the middle of the saddle however you would need to see the pair in motion to be sure .
I remember well what a frustrating time I had with Tatts and saddlers but with him as he developed the back of a ridden horse it all got easier .
 

Auslander

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Agree that it's not possible to tell whether a saddle is too narrow from a pic. As an example - this saddle does not fit the horse well (although he likes it better than the well fitting Albion that he usually wears, for some reason best known to himself) I tried shimming the back up, expecting that it would make the saddle too tight in front, but it isn't - there is still plenty of room for a hand on either side. If anything it is too wide for him.
I blame tree shape for the poor fit.
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Pinkvboots

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Agree that it's not possible to tell whether a saddle is too narrow from a pic. As an example - this saddle does not fit the horse well (although he likes it better than the well fitting Albion that he usually wears, for some reason best known to himself) I tried shimming the back up, expecting that it would make the saddle too tight in front, but it isn't - there is still plenty of room for a hand on either side. If anything it is too wide for him.
I blame tree shape for the poor fit.
13096306_10154349159105730_678390580527427194_n.jpg

13076569_10154349159015730_3909447861657572514_n.jpg

one of my horses only has shims in the back and middle part of the saddle to even it out or the back moves about, I don't think it matters if you only shim parts as long as it is sitting level which yours does in the second picture,
 

Goldenstar

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I have no issue at all with shimming saddles to improve the fit .
I have various saddle cloths and numahs that take shims small changes in the horse shape can make for a big feeling when your sat on top with your horse moving .
Horses doing lots of good flat work training can be changing muscle shape all the time you need to be able to be on top of this yourself all the time .
As a owner you need good basic understanding of how to shim a saddle until the saddle gets to you to advise what to do ongoing .
Some horses go through periods of profound changes in shape you just have to go through it .
 

Auslander

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one of my horses only has shims in the back and middle part of the saddle to even it out or the back moves about, I don't think it matters if you only shim parts as long as it is sitting level which yours does in the second picture,

I'm delighted that it has worked - just need to get myself a shim pad now (this one was borrowed to see if it worked). The saddle is a bit scruffy, but it was once a very expensive handmade saddle, which is supremely comfortable. I love riding in it, and was a bit gutted that it didn't fit him as he aged and lost muscle over his topline.
 

Pinkvboots

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I'm delighted that it has worked - just need to get myself a shim pad now (this one was borrowed to see if it worked). The saddle is a bit scruffy, but it was once a very expensive handmade saddle, which is supremely comfortable. I love riding in it, and was a bit gutted that it didn't fit him as he aged and lost muscle over his topline.

it's a very clever thing when used correctly, one of my horses constantly changes shape so I find it the best option for me, I think your saddle looks very comfy I am a bit fussy with saddles they need to be nice and padded on the seat, one of mine has a double padded seat and makes everything else feel like sitting on a brick, but I do have a bony backside so that's probably why lol!
 

Auslander

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it's a very clever thing when used correctly, one of my horses constantly changes shape so I find it the best option for me, I think your saddle looks very comfy I am a bit fussy with saddles they need to be nice and padded on the seat, one of mine has a double padded seat and makes everything else feel like sitting on a brick, but I do have a bony backside so that's probably why lol!

I have a very well padded backside! I like the Xenophons suede seat - it as saved me a fair few times when Alf has pulled off some of his more spectacular moves. I didn't realise how secure I feel in a suede seated dressage saddle, til I started riding him in the Albion GP. Its a lvely saddle, but not my cup of tea!
 

sbloom

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I think every tack room should have a good shim pad, personally I like the shims in the Mattes pad, and they have the best sheepskin, as they are trimmable so you can make wedges which are better than single thickness foam pieces, but if it works it works. I agree the Xenophon looks better shimmed, but I'll also say that girthing will bring the front down (always girth up for photos) and then of course the rider changes the balance, then the horse lifts its back differently in every pace, so walk and trot can show VERY different balances.

To get technical saddle tree width is about one thing and one thing only, the tree angles are narrower than the horse requires means the tree is too narrow. Having more flocking in the front and it tipping back does not mean it is too narrow, it is simply overflocked at the front and to say that flocking is the same as tree width isn't helpful, there's enough smoke and mirrors in saddle fitting without more confusion :). Tree width not only changes the clearance and balance but it also changes the pressure points - a too wide saddle has too much pressure along the top edge of the panel, a too narrow saddle will "gape" at the top edge of the panel, lacking contact, but will have too much pressure at the tree points. Adjusting the flocking CAN help a little with a too wide saddle but a too narrow saddle should never be ridden in. Padding/shims can also help with lifting the front of a too wide saddle but few can help alleviate the uneven pressure, it's why I like the Mattes pads as I can make the shims into a wedge in two directions - wider at the bottom that the top, to fill in the gap left by too wide points, as well as taper them at the back under the middle of the seat so they don't leave a ridge.
 

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I think every tack room should have a good shim pad, personally I like the shims in the Mattes pad, and they have the best sheepskin, as they are trimmable so you can make wedges which are better than single thickness foam pieces, but if it works it works. I agree the Xenophon looks better shimmed, but I'll also say that girthing will bring the front down (always girth up for photos) and then of course the rider changes the balance, then the horse lifts its back differently in every pace, so walk and trot can show VERY different balances.

Good point - shim pad has gone back to it's owner, but I'm going to buy one asap,and will girth up before I look at it again. He's never grumbled about it, even when it was tipping backwards, whereas he really doesn't like the other saddle, which appears to fit him like a glove! The xenophon does have a very wide channel, and I suspect that's why he likes it. The other saddle is a GP - he's got big shoulders, and has always been ridden in a dressage saddle - perhaps the more forward flaps feel weird!
 

Tnavas

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I'm A problem I found with my Bates Caprilli dressage saddle was that the depth of the flocking beneath the rider was too fine. When horse rounded up in his canter work there was pressure on his spinal processes.

In the end I sold my beautiful saddle, saved up a long time for it, as horse only had to lose a kg of weight and the saddle no longer fitted under the rider.

I went on and bought another Bates, slightly different design and it was fine.
 

el_Snowflakes

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I had a similar issue. My horse is also a WB & built very much uphill. I was getting left behind her movement so I got a Black Country saddle & the saddler built it up slightly at the back so it wasn't tilting me backwards & it's been great.
 

sbloom

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Sorry, should have replied with quote, this is to Tnavas' last post:

That can also come from the horse being more A framed and the saddle being for a back that is wider side to side, sometimes narrower seats and panels allow the saddle to sit on the higher part of the back and keep it off the spine. If the fitter tries to flock more into the centre to correct this issue it can cause instability ie rocking or slipping. Sometimes a spine free sheepskin pad is enough to give the space for the horse to lift it's back, but it's why I hark on about flat trees all the time, if the tree is curved you have to keep the flocking light in the middle (if it can be made stable at all) and that can have downsides, especially on A frame horses.
 
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