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FW: Saddle Fit

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2002 5:40 PM
To: Desgrange, Verlane
Subject: RE: Saddle Fit

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Dear Melanie,

I'm aware that lots of folks ride these "treeless" saddles, but as a
saddlemaker I have one big problem with them: they lack a tree for stability
on your horse's back. These are essentially a saddle that is constructed of
a 1" thick saddle pad material with an arch (fork) in the front and an arch
(cantle) in the back, both of which are supposed to confer stability on the
horse's back. When a saddlemaker orders a tree, (s)he will order the pitch
on the bars to match that of your horse's back. To the best of my knowledge,
you cannot order the pitch on the front and rear arches on these to match
your horse's back shape. 

These "saddles" are basically a glorified saddle pad that do not distribute
the rider's weight evenly over the horse's back as would a saddle with a
tree in it. And you don't need a big heavy roping saddle to have correct
weight distribution either. Any saddle with a tree in it will do this simple
function, as long as the tree fits the hoorse's back in the first place.

 From what you're describing, it sounds as though the rear arch is rubbing
on your horse's back because the pitch is too steep for your horse and thus
putting pressure on a small area of his back on either side of the spinal
column (in the cantle area). If your horse has a lot of "rear end" movement
when he trots out long, this "wiggle" in his movement may be causing the
"saddle" to rub back and forth in the cantle area. Even a saddle with a tree
may do this, but there is less likelyhood of this happening when the pitch
of the bars matches the pitch on the horse's back (think pitch of a roof).
So,as an analogy, if you put a steeply pitched church steeple on a
reasonably flat roof, the very edges are going to put a lot of pressure in
some very concentrated places on the flat roof, possibly causing the church
steeple to crack the roof where the contact points are. I'm going to guess
without seeing your horse, this could be the case.

Unless you change the shape of the saddle to fit the horse's back, you're
likely to repeat this problem. Let your horse heal and then look for a
saddle with the correct pitch for horse's back.

As to sliding forward when going downhill, a crupper will fix it. Your horse
apparently has no shoulders to hold a saddle downhill, but plenty of rib
spring to keep it in place going uphill. A comfortable well fitted crupper
should help, but always try on any new gear on your horse in a safe enclosed
pen first before heading out on a short ride.If y our horse has never worn a
crupper before, be prepared for some possible silly behavior. Work him on a
longe line before mounting. That way you can observe his reactions. When you
feel it's safe to do so, get on. Have another person present, just in

 When you get back from a short ride, check your horse for soreness,
tenderness, heat, swelling, or anything that could spell trouble on a longer
ride. Correct the problem immediately before going forward with any new

Verlane Desgrange
Master saddler and saddlemaking instructor, Spokane Falls College

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2002 9:57 AM
Subject: RC: Saddle Fit

Melanie Walker
I recently purchased a Bob Marshall Sports Saddle.  I love the saddle, but
it does not love my Arab.  There are very large rub areas on the
croup/loin area on both sides.  These did not appear right away.  They
occured over a period of about 6 weeks.  There is still hair there, but it
clearly is being rubbed.  The saddle tends to slip forward when working on
hills.  It does not slip back at all. I believe this is what is causing
the rub.

Although I am not currently using the saddle, I have purchased a new girth
and a Skito Equalizer pad in hopes that this will solve the problem. But I
will need to wait until the hair is back to may be awhile.

Can someone provide me some advice on this?  Is there hope for this


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