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Orthoflex Widths

Last week I posted that different Orthoflex models have
different tree widths, and that one should probably take
this into consideration when trying to fit an Orthoflex to
your horse.

This past Saturday I visited an Orthoflex dealer and measured
a bunch of models.  Here are the results.

1.  The inside measurement was taken by flipping the saddle
    on its back on a flat surface, letting the panels relax
    naturally open, and then measuring a straight line between
    the panels from front post slit to front post slit with a
    metric tape measure.  The "slit" is the little slit cut in
    the panel foam right above the post where the tool fits in
    to screw the panel to the post.  This was a surface
    measurement; I didn't try to push the tape measure into the
    foam slit to measure from post to post.  (The easiest way to
    find the slit is to feel for it with your finger on the bottom
    of the panel.)  This is what it looks like from the front with
    the saddle lying on its back.  The line of hyphens is the
    measurement I took.

        panel--> \                     / <--panel
                 =\-------------------/= <--post
                   \                 /

2.  The outside measurement was taken by putting the saddle on a
    stand and pulling it forward so that the front of the panels
    were in front of the stand.  Then, take two pencils and a
    12" wooden ruler.  Place the ruler against the front of the
    panels.  Holding the left pencil perpendicular to the ruler,
    stick it between the panel and the saddle bottom until the
    point hits the front post, bisecting it (or the gasket that
    covers it).  Do the same with the other pencil and the other
    post.  Use the ruler to measure the distance between them
    (center of pencil to center of pencil).  Be careful to keep
    the pencils perpendicular to the ruler.  As viewed from



                  o  pommel  o       <--front posts
                  |          |       <--pencils
                  |----------|-----  <--12" ruler

The measurements are not overwhelmingly accurate, say
about +|- 1/8".  What is important is more the relative
widths than the absolute widths, anyway.

                         slit-to-slit          post-to-post
16.5" Stitchdown            17cm                  8 1/4"
17.5" Stitchdown            18cm                  8 1/2"
16.5" Versatile             17.5cm                8 1/2"
15"   Am. Outback           18cm                  9"
17" Softsteel Patriot       18.5cm                9 1/4"
16" Softsteel Patriot       19cm                  9 1/2"
16" Endurance Cutback       20cm                  9 3/4"
14" OF Traditional          24cm


- The Stitchdown was uniformly the narrowest.

- It looks to me like the Stitchdown and the Versatile may
  very well be the same tree.

- There could be great variation even within models--the 16"
  Softsteel Patriot was *wider* than the 17"!  My guess is
  that the posts were just mounted lower on the tree.  These
  are the $895 "cheapo" model Patriots.

- The Endurance Cutback, though the "smallest" saddle, had
  the widest tree.  I wish there had been more than one of these
  to measure so that I could make sure it is generally true.

- There were no Express Lites, but the dealer said that they
  are very similar to the Endurance Cutback and fit similarly.

- The widest of all, by far, was the used 14" Traditional the
  dealer had on consignment.  There weren't any slits to measure,
  this was just fleece-to-fleece above the front post screws.

- There were no "English" style models, like the Dresseur, to

- By the way, the System II panels are 57cm long, and the old
  style panels on the OF Traditional were 66cm long.

So, there it is.  What it all means is hard to say.  It is
certainly true that, on any given horse, the saddle with the
wider front posts is going to sit lower on the horse's
withers/shoulder assembly than the narrower saddle.  I suspect,
however, that the front *profile* of the saddle may still be
as important as the width; i.e., 9" wide posts that point
"downward" may fit a wide withered horse better than 9" wide
posts that point "inward."  Solving this puzzle--if a solution
exists--may be the key to getting an Orthoflex that fits.

Many thanks to Linda Chita at The Mane Place in Uxbridge,
Massachusetts for letting me tear apart her Orthoflex saddles,
nummas, pads, and booties in a crowded store on a busy
Saturday morning, and all without even giving me a funny look.

Linda B. Merims
Massachusetts, USA

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