The Right Saddle: Will It Fix My Horse’s Back?
Many people ask me questions about saddle fit while I am in the process of evaluating their horse for back issues. While I have some basic knowledge about saddle fitting, I do not consider myself an expert on saddle fit. However, since I do consider myself an expert on the spine and saddles sit more or less right on the spine, I feel qualified to offer useful information relating back issues to saddle fitting. In case expert opinions are needed, I refer to a number of people whose entire business is saddles and saddle fit.
Every horse owner should be aware of at least some saddle fitting basics: Make sure there are no areas of white hair developing under the saddle, which would indicate a pressure point. Check the horse’s coat for uneven distribution of sweat after a ride, which can indicate unevenness of saddle fit, or musculoskeletal imbalances in the back. The saddle should ideally be designed for your particular breed, taking into account variation of such things as withers dimensions. I also like to advise owners to make sure the saddle is not too far forward and hitting the spine of the scapula (shoulder blade). To check this, find the furthest rearward point of the bone you can feel below the withers area. Put two fingers side by side just behind this point, and this should be the distance to the front of the saddle contact.
Many people upon suspecting that there horse has a back problem or back soreness rush out to spend money on a custom fit saddle. This will likely not solve the problem if there are musculoskeletal imbalance issues along with the inevitable muscle, tendon and joint pain.
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy performed alongside Orthopedic Joint and Muscle Release can help. This corrective therapy combination will actually change things on your horse’s back. Unbalanced muscles will even out, vertebral segments that appear “out of alignment” will line up better, postural asymmetries will be corrected, and the horse will have better overall weight distribution. We will assume of course that a spinal-related issue has been located and is the primary cause of these problems.
Indeed, many custom saddle-fitters are beginning to tell horse owners: “Fix the horse’s back problems before you fit a saddle to their back”.