This short piece is the second part of my advices and insights to poor saddle fitting, the first one being, how to tell if your saddle doesn’t fit? So, let’s say that you’ve come to the realisation that your saddle doesn’t fit. You will have to book your saddle fitter in, to either reflock your current saddle, modify the shape of the tree or, if necessary, get a brand new saddle. Here are a few things you also need to make sure you do.
Get your horse checked by your manual therapist!
The very first step you need to take, after booking your saddle fitter, is to book your horse to be seen by a manual practitioner! Your horse will have developed dysfunctions to adapt to the pain caused by the saddle, modifying the way he stands and moves. This means that if you don’t have him realigned and rebalanced before you buy a new saddle, it will be fitted onto a crocked back. Not the best! So before you do anything else, get your horse mechanically sound.
Building your horse’s back
The next step is to rebuild the muscle. This will take time, so you will, most likely, not have the time to get your horse in top shape before the saddle fitting. But you do need to start working your horse in a way that will allow blood flow and decent muscle contraction, in order to get him fit again. And the easiest way to do that is to either lunge, or free school your horse (or both!). This will allow your horse to move freely, without any weight on, and will start building the muscles back up.
If you really want to ride, you can get a good quality half pad that you will use temporarily, to relive your horse’s back. You can get sheepskin ones, as this is only temporary. Or you can ride bare back! It will make you work harder, and get a nice feel of how your horse moves. If you do so, make sure your ride doesn’t exceed 20/25 minutes; otherwise your seat bones will stop the blood flow, again, from excessive pressure.
And what happens after you bought your saddle?
Most people assume that after they get their new saddle, it’s done and over, and they’re good forever. Unfortunately, this is very untrue. When you get your new saddle, it is a saddle that has been fitting on a back that will, most likely, have a lack of muscle. Depending on how long you’ve kept the old saddle for, the loss of muscle can go from very slight to very important. With the new saddle, your horse’s muscles will start to build up and change the shape of your horse’s back, again! This is something to discuss with your saddle fitter or with your manual practitioner as they will be able to advise for your specific situation, but if there’s one thing that you can remember from this post, it’s that your saddle will not fit your horse forever and that you will, one day, need to have it adjusted again. Remember that horses change shape all the time, between winter and summer, as well as with age, injury, amount of work done… So keep your eye on it!