Hi Judy - an addition to what I said in my earlier response:
Having a saddle shaped "to fit the horse's back"
is not necessarily a good thing. If the horse is crooked and the
saddle panels are made crooked to match the horse then the horse is locked
into that crooked shape. Perhaps what has happened is that your horse
has become either more or less crooked because of your conditioning work
so your saddle fits much less well now than when you had it reflocked.
Also, the way it was reflocked could be adding to the problem. Older
saddles were flocked with wool which would eventually felt because of the
heat and moisture from the horse's body. The traditional way to reflock
a saddle was to add more wool fleece in little clumps to plump out the
panels. The trouble was that the new felt didn't blend with the old
and the result was often lumps and bumps. The best way was to completely
remove the old flocking and replace it. Newer saddles are padded
with foam that, theoretically, lasts longer than wool fleece before it
needs to be replaced. Not all saddlers are able to replace foam panels.
You can check to see if your saddle tree and panels
are straight or crooked. Prop the pommel of your saddle on your foot
with the under side out so you can look down the gullet from cantle to
pommel. Look carefully at the angles and shapes of the panels to
see how even and symmetrical they are. Don't be surprised if they
are not symmetical, very few are!!! Determine where the middle of
the rear of the cantle is then look down to the pommel to see if the line
between the middle of the back of the gullet and the middle of the front
is straight or if it veers off to one side or the other. More than
likely your saddle is crooked because almost all english style saddles
are made that way. Why? Because there isn't much quality control
in the industry, according to Andy Foster of AJ Foster Saddles in Walsall
England, the center of the English saddlemaking industry. Also check
to make sure your saddle tree is not broken by resting the saddle on your
thigh, top side up, then pulling the other end towards you trying to fold
it in half. If there is any movement at all, your tree is probably
broken and the saddle needs to be replaced 'cause a broken tree can't be
As you can probably tell, saddle fit is a passion
of mine. I hope I haven't either bored or frightened you to death!
I've said a lot of this in my book (small plug here!): "Choosing a saddle
for endurance and long distance riding," ($10 from Filaree Press, PO Box
1361, Carmel Valley CA 93924.
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