I am trying to fit my mare
with a saddle that doesn’t hurt her back. I have tried an Arab tree and a semi
QH tree but they both left dry spots and welts on her back. She has a short back
and has been 4” higher at her rump than at her withers for years. She is 8 years
old and 15.1 hands.
I am currently using a gel
pad with the rear 2 pads removed and replaced with thin felt pads. She seems to
move much more freely. I am 6’ and 190 pounds. My saddle has a long skirt (31”).
I am sure this causes problems with her hip hitting and then pushing the saddle
onto her shoulder blades.
Some articles I’ve read
suggest getting rid of the horse which I don’t want to do. I know her back hurts
on the hills. I was able to ride her in an English saddle (even though I was a
nervous wreck) and she amazed me at how differently and freely she moved.
I am hoping that a shorter
skirt will solve the problem and wonder if a full QH tree with a gel pad would
be the answer. I would have a saddle made if I could be sure it would help the
Yes, your mare has very difficult
conformation to deal with but it sounds like you have a good start on solving
Use a saddle with the shortest
skirts you can, and one with round skirts rather than square skirts.
It sounds like you probably
ride in a 16” seat (Western). This makes it difficult to get a seat to fit you
but with bars short enough for your horse’s back. I think custom is the only way
to go and even then it will be a challenge for the saddle maker. If you can look
at the western saddle on the cover of either of my longeing books
Longeing and Long Lining Exercises or Longeing
Lining the English and Western Horse
you will see the custom saddle
I had made about 5 years ago to fit the black gelding who is wearing it on the
covers. He is very short backed but fortunately has a slightly uphill topline.
Until I had that saddle made, I rode him 95% of the time with my dressage saddle.
As you say, when a saddle fits well, the horse flows and he really showed me that
he preferred the dressage saddle over my previous square skirted, longer western
saddles. Now, with my custom Western saddle, he goes just as well Western as English.
You will have to find a knowledgeable
saddle maker and go for more of a balanced ride type saddle with the deep part
in the center of the seat rather than one that has a seat with a built-up front
that sets you back behind the center of balance.
Avoid stiff, long pads too –
make sure your pads are about the same size and shape as your saddle. Elevating
the front and minimizing padding at the rear like you are doing is a good strategy
for your downhill horse but you can’t take it to extremes or the saddle will be
unstable in the front and cause undue pressure on the horse’s loins.