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Fit to be a Champion: Recognizing Saddle Fit issues with 5 Star Equine by Robyn Duplisea

Fit to be a Champion: Recognizing Saddle Fit issues with 5 Star Equine by Robyn Duplisea

Recognizing Saddle Fit issues with 5 Star Equine by Robyn Duplisea

You demand a lot of your horses. You ask them to perform highly athletic maneuvers that are no small feat for a 1200 – pound animal. They are your partner as you enter the arena and you entrust your safety and lives to them every time you mount up.

These wonderful animals try for us under the toughest circumstances. They lope through the heat and show for us despite the loud and scary noises that their intuition says to flee from. Are you doing your best as a partner to ensure your horse’s comfort?

The largest piece of equipment you use is your saddle. It is the foundation to your performance, and the fit of that saddle can affect your horse’s comfort and athletic ability. While choosing that beautiful silver encrusted work of art that makes a rider swoon, we want you to be sure that your partner is comfortable in that saddle and fit to be a champion.

Take a closer look for these five signs of poor saddle fit:

• Dry Spots after a ride are never a good sign. Dry spots indicate too much pressure in one area. After your ride, your horse’s back should be evenly damp, with the exception on the spine.

• Saddle Sores. While not always caused by poor saddle fit, sores on your horse’s back should be a red flag. Is your saddle too loose or tight and causing excess movement, which is rubbing your horse? If you have ever been forced to walk in shoes that have caused blisters you can only imagine the discomfort these rubs are causing your partner!

• White Hairs. Sadly, by the time you see this sign of poor saddle fit, your horse has been uncomfortable for a while. Trauma from severe or chronic pressure causes damage to the pigment producing cells in the skin, resulting in the growth of white hair.

• Tipping Up of Saddle.  Have you ever seen horses longing and noticed the saddle is tipped up off their back – this is a clear sign of a saddle that does not fit that horse’s back.

• Behavioral Issues. Does your horse show signs of resistance? Perhaps he is swishing his tail more than normal or just doesn’t feel like he can relax in that new saddle. Is he grumpy when you tack up? Or perhaps becomes crankier as your ride progresses. All of these signs may be your horse telling you he is not comfortable.

Once you have evaluated your horse for signs of saddle fit issues or soreness, you need to make a plan to heal his back. Obviously the first step is to eliminate the poorly fitting saddle. If you are not experienced in saddle fit, now is the time to hire a professional to help you find the perfect fit for your partner!

The next step can be to evaluate what you are using under that saddle. Are you helping or hindering your horse’s natural cooling process? Synthetic pads can cause overheating and blistering of the back, a thin show pad may simply not provide the protection and padding your horse deserves. A quality saddle pad like those by 5 Star Equine Products, offers additional padding in a natural wool felt material that maximizes the breathability and pressure reduction from your horse. A 100% Pure Virgin Wool Felt will be able to wick 20X its weight in moisture, which in turn removes heat from your horse’s back, helping to prevent further white spots and sores. When evaluating your training and horsemanship program, one of your greatest assets will be to learn to listen to your horse. A previously happy and easy – going horse that suddenly begins to buck or balk is often in pain. If you look for these signs of poor saddle fit and remedy any issues as quickly as possible, you can save both yourself, and your horse, from the pain and aggravation that a chronic issue can cause. Your horse deserves the best care, so he can truly be fit to be a champion!

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