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Mutton Withered Horses

She writes:

This is going to seem very stupid, but I really need to ask this. I am a beginner with almost no saddling experience. I've done some reading on the web, but nothing seems to cover this.

I've tried two different saddles, and had the same problem with each one, so it must be me. Our gelding is an enormous foundation QH type, very big shoulders, wide back, just big all over. I have also tried two different blankets, one is 1 1/2 inches thick, the other just a Navajo blanket.

Here is my problem.

I have the cinch snug, the saddle looks like it fits all right, but there seems to be about 3 inches floating above the withers. Once the cinch is on, I try the stirrup and the dang thing slides towards me when I try to get on. This has happened with both saddles and both pads. Is there something that I am doing wrong? Saddle too far forward, or back? There are no books on saddling western style in my area.

Could it just be that I have a big round horse that needs another type of saddle than the ones we have? Ours are square skirted, normal looking western saddles that look dwarfed on him.

Again, I apologize for the silly question, but if I ever want to ride this horse, I've got to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

I reply:

There are NO stupid questions where your safety and animals are concerned. Actually, there are no stupid questions when one is seeking knowledge.

You may very well have a mutton withered horse. In other words, he has a flatter back than most. Mutton withered horses require a saddle with a different tree than more normal horses require. With a normal withered horse there is somewhat of a peak that helps to keep the saddle from just spinning around when you mount. A mutton withered horse has little or no peak and unless you have your girth SUPER tight, it will tend to spin as you mount and even then you may still have the same problem. Having a super-tight cinch is not really all that comfortable for the horse either.

A cinch is really not intended to keep you on the horse. It is merely intended to keep the saddle on the horse, but if the saddle is on a "barrel" shaped horse, it is going to move.

Your post indicates to me that you may be trying to get on a horse long before you should. While it's a gutsy approach, it could get you in trouble and make you think twice about horses. I'd suggest you look around for a saddle club to join, or someone who could take you under their wing and get you through the basics.

Without seeing the horse, the saddle, pad and you, I really have no way of telling what the problem may be. I have a couple of Morgan mares I ride and they have tabletop backs and NO saddle stays in place on them. I solve that problem by using a mounting block, tree, table, or truck tailgate to get on and hope that the girth is at least tight enough to hold the saddle where it's supposed to be while I try to stay over the horse.

I have seen devices in barns that are used to tighten the cinches... Is "cinches" what "English" folk call cinches, the word escapes me at the moment, it's been a long day? Oh, "girths" is the word! Anyway, these tighteners use lever power to tighten the girths. An "English" saddle is a whole lot smaller and lighter than a "Western" saddle, seems kinda odd one need a lever to fasten it on.

Please try to find someone who can help you in person with this problem. Riding a horse when you don't know how to saddle it is dangerous. Get some lessons to get you past the basics.

She re-writes:

Hi Marv:

I should have probably mentioned that I have been riding since I was five :) Just never tacked up before in western. I've worked with Charley for 4 months, (remember his respect problems) and did the bonder with him. He's come a long way, and I'm taking it really slow with him.

I think you are right, he is definitely flat backed. I rode him bareback the other day before we got this latest saddle and boy is he wide backed!

I am now looking for a good used saddle for "bubba" otherwise known as Charley. That's what we need to set up on the group a tack section!

Thanks for your help!

I reply:


Your name was familiar which was what threw me when I read the hadn't saddled before line. Glad to hear Charley is doing so well.

I work with so many horses and people that I need a lot of reminding sometimes about who is who and what was what.

I'm glad you seem to have a handle on the problem.

Feel free to put ANYTHING horse related on the group, tack searches, for sales, whatever. However, the distances between the group posters and readers makes buying and selling horse stuff kind of involved.

Click here to check out my very reasonably priced DVD inventory covering many of the subjects featured on my site's pages in greater depth.

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