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Re: [RC] [RC] downhill back - terry banister

Don't foirget flexible-panel saddles. They offer a tree for support of the rider, but the panels offer freedom of movement for the horse's shoulders. The panels offer maximum surface area on the horse's back for support of the tree, but unlike treeless saddles, the spine is completely untouched. And unlike conventional treed saddles, the flex-panels (different than flexible-tree saddles) can adapt to changes of the horse's back in movement and body condition.
The The American-Flex saddles even have an adjustable mounting point at the shoulder to raise the seat on one side to compensate for uneven shoulders, or raise it on both sides to level the rider of a downhill horse.

"May the Horse be with you"

>From: Laney Humphrey <laneyhh@xxxxxxxxxxx>
>To: Ridecamp Guest <guest-owner@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>CC: ridecamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
>Subject: Re: [RC] downhill back
>Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2005 09:14:25 -0800
>I'll jump in here. I'm sure you'll get lots of other opinions too.
>1. downhill conformation, i.e., front is lower than hind. Not
>uncommon but not a deal breaker unless it's severe. It means that
>the horse will naturally be "heavy on the forehand," in other words,
>will naturally put more than usual weight and pressure on its front
>end. With good training and riding a horse can be taught to move
>how it carries its weight back onto its hind but it's conformation
>won't change.
>2. saddle fit on a downhill horse. Since the horse's back is tilted
>forward towards the shoulders, any saddle will naturally slide
>forward and end up sitting against the withers and shoulders. This
>can cause pinching of the shoulders leading to short, choppy gaits.
>3. treeless vs. treed saddles. Treeless saddles, by definition have
>no rigid parts (except sometimes pommel and cantle). So they have
>no part that will put or keep them in a specific place on a horse's
>back. They require special padding to keep them from putting
>pressure on the spine. Since treeless saddles are, treeless, they
>can allow good shoulder movement even when sitting too far forward.
>Traditional, treed, saddles, have a rigid structure, the tree. A
>tree is a marvel of curves. Like a treeless saddle, a saddle with a
>tree will not necessarily stay put in a specific place on a horse's
>back, especially when the horse is moving. A tree that is correctly
>matched to the horse's back will mirror the curves of the horse's
>back allowing enough width in the gullet for the shoulders, enough
>arc from the front to underneath the rider's bottom to match the arc
>of the horse's back, and will also match the contour of the back of
>the horse's back - sharp drop-off or more rounded. An advantage of
>a saddle tree is that the saddle can be built both the match horse's
>back shape but also keep the seat for the rider level which it won't
>be naturally on a downhill horse. A tree built for a downhill horse
>must accomodate resting against the shoulders and withers so it
>should have good flare to allow shoulder movement.
>4. saddle placement. Here are two experiments you can try with
>whatever saddle you have now. First, use a crupper and make it
>tight enough to actually hold the saddle off the shoulders at least
>when you are going downhill. Even more important: try moving the
>saddle back. Most people put their saddles too far forward - up on
>top of the withers and shoulders. The saddle should actually sit
>further back than that. If you allow the saddle to sit in the
>pocket behind the shoulders, where it wants to be, you may find you
>have less bridging. If your saddle has enough flare to allow good
>shoulder movement, you've got good saddle fit. If you are trying to
>place, and keep, your treed saddle, up too high/forward on the
>withers so the front is over the shoulder blade, you are fighting
>gravity and physics.
> Treed and treeless saddles both have advantages and disadvantages.
>Finding the best fit for you and your horse is probably going to
>take time and experimentation. Don't give up on saddles with trees
>until you have played around with where you let the saddle sit.
> Email me privately if you want.
>Ridecamp Guest wrote:
>>Please Reply to: Kim Black blacks@xxxxxxxxxxx or
>>Does anyone have further comment on experience with downhill backs,
>>related to how treeless saddles work as compared to custom saddles?
>> I have finally accepted my horse is slightly downhill and that is
>>why I am having bridging problems with a variety of saddles. I plan
>>to try a treeless, before any decision as to what to purchase, but
>>would appreciate any input. Private reply is fine. Thanks, Kim
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Re: [RC] downhill back, Laney Humphrey