Have you got your Horse’s Back?
Check another ‘Hot Spot’ when your horse seems sore
When your horse looks “off”, pinpointing the root cause can be challenging. Luckily for us, there are not quite as many real problems as the touted solutions available for them. For the smart horse owner, proper horse care involves sifting out reality from dogma. Once you develop a discerning eye and address saddle fit and hoof function (the two main “hot spots” in your horse’s body where issues arise) other areas of soreness become more easily identifiable.
Consider the difference between the wild and domestic horse. Most obvious is the treatment of their feet and nailing metal shoes into them. The other is about the saddle we put on to ride them. Let’s agree, most saddles are rigid and restrictive, specifically at the scapula or back-of-the-shoulder-blade area. Many of them are heavy, particularly western styles. And often, they are too narrow for the horse to really rotate the shoulder fully.
Learn the Warning Signs
Your horse will tell you long before the obvious development of discoloration and appearance of white hairs on his back that his saddle is not fitting well. His movements will be inflexible and unnatural. When you approach with a saddle, he will pin his ears back. He resists picking up the proper lead. He swishes his tail when he canters. By the time his hairs have turned white around the withers he no longer has pigment in these hair follicles. Circulation to that area has been inhibited for many months. If you could read the earlier telltale signs, you would remedy the cause of the problem well before symptoms arise.
Horses do not conspire to deceive or mislead us. They don’t pretend something is wrong when it’s not. It is our responsibility to understand what they are saying, which can be difficult because we are accustomed to seeing a stilted tender gait that it has become our “normal”. When you see a horse running with complete freedom of movement, it looks very different to many of the horses we are observe under saddle. The perceptive horseperson watches for detail with perception. She knows the difference. She has developed acumen.
Watch his Back
Here are some issues concerning your horse’s back and the things you might pay attention to:
- Uneven saddle construction: Like a pair of human shoes, even good saddles may have slightly uneven construction.
- Trees are often asymmetrical.
- Stirrup bars may be placed unevenly.
- Panels may be stuffed unevenly, displacing the gullet or creating lumps or bumps.
- Wool flocking changes shape over time.
Turn your saddle upside down and place the horn on the ground and just eye-ball down the center. You will see a difference from one side to another.
2. Asymmetry of the horse’s body:
Horses (like humans!) may develop differently on their left and right sides.
For example, a short or long leg may cause uneven musculature in the shoulders or muscle sling supporting the rib cage.
3. Changes in the horse’s musculature:
Bodies change and develop. A horse’s musculature will change throughout the riding day (as the horse tires) and over the season (as the horse ages, develops, tones or loses muscle mass). These changes effect the way the saddle fits the horse.
Your Horse’s Back May Not Be the Same Next Month!
Saddles as Static Objects
A saddle is a static object, but your horse is a living dynamic creature. Even slight changes in your horse’s weight throughout the year have a significant impact on the saddle’s fit. And naturally, saddle fit significantly impacts your horse’s experience.
That’s just common sense, of course. But many riders forget that a horse normally undergoes alterations in weight and posture throughout the seasons, and his life. And we continue to put the same old saddles on their backs, year in and year out. That’s what saddle pads are for, right? In some cases, yes. But most saddle pads under-perform when it comes to a customized and continually changing fit. You need to find the saddle pad that addresses all the changes that come with new seasons, age, injuries and habits. And at various points, you should have a qualified saddle fitter look at your saddle and evaluate whether changes are needed. I am not going discuss saddle fit because that is a topic unto itself and there are professionals available who would do better to come and examine your horse/saddle combination in person. What I have told you is that there are some serious issues with saddles and some things you should paying attention to.
You will find a helpful solution that addresses most of the changes that come with new seasons, age, injuries and habits in the Total Comfort System Saddle Pads. Specifically engineered to contract and expand where needed and mould for a precise fit between the back and the saddle for each and every ride. They even compensate for your weight and posture. Here’s how:
The combination of 4 technically-advanced lightweight materials create a system that absorbs shock and eases saddle fit discrepancies.
This multi-density solution, results in a thinner pad creating more room for articulation of the horse’s scapula during riding movements.
Firm poly fibre sheets are inserted alongside the protective memory foam inserts to create internal stability which serves to further equalize the load in high performance sports. These panels produce an inner equilibrium that even in very active rider movement or saddle stress situations, will allow a more complete utilization of the horse’s scapula.
We are currently experiencing the most dynamic change in the treatment of horses in history. Twenty years ago, it was a very different climate. People are now looking for alternatives; for ways to improve the life experience of their equine companions through proper saddle fit and hoof care. The proliferation and growing use of products containing glucosamines, MSM, pain killers and anti-inflammatories is a result of our inadequate understanding of saddle fit and hoof function – the 2 hot spots. Allowing our horses a pain free riding experience includes both appropriate comfort under saddle and naturally functioning healthy hoofs.
Wishing you many happy, comfortable miles on the trails,