My, my...this issue of saddle fitting- It is a pain in the Patooty!
My senative TB mare so totally agrees!
I rode my TB mare near 15 months with the cushiest of all bareback saddles, the Cashel "Soft Saddle", in order to heal her back from the last saddle we had tried in 2010...looking for an Answer for the next saddle solution....
While the last used Dressage saddle I found to ride the mare in during May, June, July of 2010 was nice for the gullet/ shoulder width & had a raised pommel fo good wither clearance, it bridged terribly.
It also rode up against her shoulders as we rode, due to the girthing billets that fell straight down, while her girth channel was forward. Yea, I've learned alot about saddle fitting on this journey.
At my wits end for saddling problems, I knew my mare needed time to heal while I figured out what next direction to go in for saddles. I got her the physical therapy for her body accordingly... and I also knew riding without a tree, would be therapy as well-mental and physical.
So we did, we rode with our bareback softsaddle ...
And we rode......
All the while I was monitoring her back and making sure she was comfortable with how I was sitting on her. I used A sheepskin pad by" ENGLE" under the layers of closed cell foam of the Softsaddle,and my "Thinline pad" over that.
She got happier and happier...me too!
In late August of 2010 my mare sustained an injury due to a fall..the next week she was attacked by a cougar, having been left out to pasture with her pasture buddy Pantz, on a "nice night" in Sept. She still had some open wounds that must have attracted the cat enough to think -she was an easy target for the smell of blood(weakness).Both mares had wounds on their hind quarters from the attack, as well as deep tissue muscle/tendon damages to legs.
I did not ride her again, till I moved to my new boarding facility .
We took long ride walks, on the bareback saddle to strengthen her again, while doing stretching and deep tissue therapy every week .
I was still researching saddles and had begun to venture into the thought towards a treeless saddle.
Healing nicely, with my sister aboard during our walk rides~
I got the okay to do lunging in circles finally, from my therapist...so we began some core work for her back~
She was finally sound and could step up nicely~
She shaped up and began to use all of her body again..it* took* so* long* it seemed...but injury is like that...months and months for things to heal! And heal they did. All the therapy and time down, with careful habits, paid off.
My saddle searching was still going and after using my stable mate's ANSUR saddle for a few rides and the mare seemed to enjoy it....
So then, after tons of research, I decided on the "ANSUR Treeless saddle". Though treeless, it was not structure- less. The technology was right on for airflow to the horses back and the gullets seemed pretty nice. I looked at so many companies, and this one was the smartest design going for billet/stirrup placement, overall balance and wonderful craftsmanship too! No Velcro holding it together, no wide layers upon layers. The structure in the saddle is truly dynamic for it's shock/trauma absorption .
My NEW saddle, unveiled in the break room at ANSUR Co.
Every time I had mentioned some of my saddle fit issues to the owner, that I had experienced with my mare before, she told me would not be issues with this design. I had to rest my worries on trusting that all I read and was told about the saddles- was true!
LORD knows I was optimistically naive, but willing to trust, I had moved forward and made the decision.
Looking back, literally so, at this photo of all the saddle models behind us, and the one model down front(my choice) I now see what I have come to know as fact...different pommel and gullet sizes.
See the difference?? The 3 behind are a much different Gullet structure- being of a higher pommel and lower "point of width"- where the gullet will rest upon the horse in front.
Had I known this difference would make such a HUGE difference for fit on my mare-OBVIOUSLY- I would have spent all my HARD EARNED CASH$$$ more wisely!!!
The other jump saddle in the ANSUR line, does have the wider Gullet/higher pommel that would work...and I ALMOST choose that one. I sat in both and was directed from the owner to make the choice purely by, " how I felt in the saddles".
-NOW- while all this is said and written down here for the world to see- I do not wish to dissuade anyone from the ANSUR saddles. NO! That is not why I write this post. I do so to tell of MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE and to also WARN the frustrated horse owner that may be looking into one of these smartly hand crafted and designed saddles. PLEASE BE SMART AND SADDLE FIT YOUR HORSE ALWAYS!
I was OPTIMISTICALLY DOOPED into the phrase's in the brochure and online that said,... "one saddle for all your horses, that fits all your horses! This solves all your fitting, refitting, flocking, re flocking and saddle fitter expenses."
To tell you the truth...I SHOULD HAVE HAD MY HORSE FIT, and I WOULD HAVE WILLINGLY PAID for it!!! I did not do it, and paid for the expensive, but lovely saddle instead-that does not fit!
While my TB mare has a fairly typical body type for her breed, she is much rounder than most TB's and after riding with that wonderful bareback softsaddle for so long, making sure I had air flow, using my "ENGLE" sheepskin pad, and shock absorbsion "Thinline" over that, the mare was looking great!
She had developed quite a nice top line through the engaged lunging and trail work we had been doing as well.
So -the only other written warning I read did NOT cause me to think for a moment she'd be in this catagory- "For extreme conformations"..."we offer supplemental padding to use "temporarily" under the ANSUR"..." while the horse is developing a healthier shape". That totally did not dissuade me either, to maybe inquire about a saddle fitting- since she was full in her back musculature. It just never occurred to me that-" the SADDLE could be wrong" by being all together too narrow, without wither clearance for her.
It was kind of the point of me choosing this line and type of saddles
They were flexible and without rigid form
I am not the first person to make a saddle fit mistake, I know...but for how much I spent on this wonderful saddle, ordering it new and making sure all involved KNEW HOW DIFFICULT my mare was to fit...this being saddle 6 in 5 years. SOMEONE SHOULD HAVE HELPED ME MAKE SURE it was going to fit my mare!!! Sad but true...you- yourself, are truly your only advocate sometimes, for so much in life!
So, after riding the "ANSUR KONKLUSION" for 3 months..the mare becoming more and more unwilling to be saddled again, to acting out going down hills again. The last straw was the day I went for my first arena lesson In over 2 years (having waited till I thought she could mentally handle it for not having pain in body) ...OH MY..she exploded!
I said..this is NOT right and got off, took the saddle off and within a week she began to shed her summer coat to tell me the tale of woe...WHITE HAIRS EVERYWHERE on her withers and pockets.
My treeless saddle pad had actually kept me from noticing how TIGHT and CLOSE to her withers the saddle had settled to..being fully flexible.
NO GIRTH, just me aboard!
Sorry for the blurred shot there..my sister was holding an angry mare-and- taking the photo of no wither clearance, once I got on the saddle.
I contacted the owners right away, I was so disillusioned that this could happen! I was assured kindly, that they could help me and they asked for photos of everything..horse from like 10 angles, and saddle, girth and padding. I complied, knowing that I had researched all of what I used with my new saddle!
Here, a photo from the first time I put my new ANSUR saddle on her, it does seem that there is clearance for her...yet the gullet padding sits SNUG against her withers on the sides. Since it is not a wood tree, I was not too worried.
first time KONKLUSION saddle on the mare in JUNE 2011
Leather girth used while riding the ANSUR...though it does have elastic on the other side.
Always able to pull girth away from my mare, making sure it's not too tight~
FIRST > I was told my girth should be thrown away. Elastic is the enemy of these saddles and though I read all there was to read up on at the web site and brochures- NO WHERE did it say that I could RUIN my saddle with my girth choice. I had watched the girthing video my stablemate of "EQUINEMINE" blog had done for the company's web site. I knew NOT to over tighten the girth, I've always known that!
THEN > the saddle expert came on out to see the saddle and the other things regarding my mare. He saw that it sat right on her withers and asked me what I wanted to do or thought could be an acceptable solution. Having thought so much about this, because I had spent near $ three thousand dollars on this wonderful saddle- that was to be the end all for us, I believed.
I said, " a new Gullet system or trade for a saddle that fit or have the Co. sell it, them knowing the clients that are looking for them..and a saddle credit."
He Then > brought me his saddle to put on my mare..it was a newer model, that had a much larger pommel and wider "point of width" ( an unrecognised term at ANSUR, he said) for the gullet. It looked good too!! It sat far above her withers and wider away from them. It could be perfect...if I had only known to choose that style!!!
FRUSTRATINGLY > have gotten NO ANSWER from the owners since the expert came out...he ended up giving me two foam shims to "Tape" to my $3,000 saddle gullet...which I did and it was ridiculous! Tight fit plus 3 inches more..makes TIGHTER!
I wrote a very detailed and sensible email, describing my continued problems and desperate need of help for finding a solution to this... to receive a note from the fitter saying...glad the shims worked and you go ahead and ride your saddle!
So, with no solutions...I now write this blog post..I am dismayed with the lack of P.R.
NO ANSWERS FROM ANSUR.
Looking back I see my part in this problem. I was sorely mistaken to think that a saddle could fit - WITHOUT BEING FIT!
I would gladly pay for the fitting to know I would not be hurting my mare AGAIN, with the wrong saddle choice.
I had to send some really ugly photos of the mare to the owner..who probably thought, "oou, what a swaybacked and underdeveloped horse, no wonder she has problems!" But, the fact is, she really got hollow and lost her tone on her topline, as the saddle began to really hurt her and sit on her withers.
I begin again...healing the mare and hoping she may look like this again by spring- fit with her back muscled up again, and, with no white hairs of the poorly fitting saddle!
I do have some VERY HOPEFUL and good news to share soon, about selling my 3 Mo used ANSUR KONKLUSION All purpose saddle!!!