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Saddled With A Sad Saddle…

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I used the same old Sears & Roebuck saddle for a number of years on a number of horses with nary a problem.

I’m pretty sure the reason I had no problems was because the saddle fit all the horses I rode.

The saddle fit all the horses I rode because I preferred to ride a certain type horse. I preferred the stocky, bulldog type horse with the same body shape, hence the saddle fit all the horses the same.

When I was growing up horses were still being used for work where I grew up. If the horse was not productive, it went on to the mink ranch, it certainly wasn’t bred. If the horse was productive it was often bred.

Form follows function.

When you have horses who are consistent producers at something their conformation or their form tends to fit the function.

When you watch the championship rodeo ropings you notice all the roping horses are pretty much cookie cutter types. They all look somewhat the same. Horses who don’t have that body shape, conformation, don’t make good roping horses.

And so it goes.

Back in my youth horses looked pretty much like horses. Now days they look like camels, zebras, sheep and what have you. The withers are razor sharp, the necks shoot off into the sky, the backs have bumps, the croups drop off like ski slopes and so on. A horse who looks like a horse is a rare animal these days.

We used to breed for productive purposes. Now we no longer breed for work, now we breed wishfully.

I can't tell you how many times I have shown people their horse was conformationally unsuitable for what they wanted to do with it. Perhaps it had a severe sacroiliac strain (you may know it as a hunter’s or jumper’s bump) that the rider’s weight influences and or prevents the horse from easily getting its hind legs under it. These SI horses are very often inconsistent and unpredictable and the condition seldom improves.

I don’t believe I have ever had a person not tell me, “Well, it’s okay. She always wanted to be a brood mare anyway.”

Breeding for the wish instead of breeding for the work. Next thing you know we are inundated with horses that are unsuited for pretty much anything other than being a lawn mower.

Now days horses are all over the board as far as conformation goes and it’s not enough to simply look at a horse or reference its breeding to properly fit it with a saddle. Each horse has to have its own saddle for optimum, most willing work. And, here’s a real kicker, its saddle needs may change as it becomes more or less conditioned.

In my work with problem horses I would say at least 50% of horse problems are saddle related if not more.

I was hauled to Delaware for some private work. They had three horses that looked somewhat the same and one of the horses was jiggy and tended to bolt. They had four saddles they used interchangeably on the three horses. When I walked in the barn I noticed the racked saddles and asked if they noticed anything unusual about them. All four of the saddles had different shaped gullets. None of them came close to fitting the jiggy horse.

When you go on hike you’ll quickly demand a proper fitting back pack. When you go on a ride demand a proper fitting saddle and the horse will react accordingly.

“What kind of horse you got? Arab? The Arab saddles are over there,” saddle fitting won’t cut it. Have an experienced saddle fitter go over your saddle fit while you say, “Convince me.” Hopefully they won’t “just happen to have a saddle in the truck that is a perfect fit.”

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