Kim Sturgeon wrote:
I would love to get others' takes on the info in this article about the stress on a horse's back during rising or posting trot vs. sitting trot, and the recommendation of riding in two-point as much as possible, at least for young horses. http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=15517
Also, I had a trainer who I respect very much recently advise me that it is better to ride my 3 year old in a well-fitting and balanced saddle vs. a bareback pad because the well-fitting saddle will provide more freedom for muscle development in the shoulders and around the withers. Her opinion was that bareback pads actually put a lot of pressure in those areas. And, now I'm also wondering what does all this mean about treeless saddles?
I had been thinking that riding bareback or in a bareback pad would be the best thing for my young horse, but all this really has me reconsidering.
Would love to hear others' educated opinions.
I am not a fan of bareback pads. I think the rare horse can be comfortable with them with a human on top with sharp unpadded ischia - if you sit down on your seat bones with your hands under you you'll discover our fat butts fold up out of the way and the ischia are in near full contact with the surface we are on - and they are SHARP.
Had a big strong horse when I was a kid that taught me that the hard way. Bucked only when bareback, and never with saddle. Took me the longest time to figure it out.
On the other hand, putting aside todays bareback pads, and looking at treeless, I see much promise for these in our current and growing materials technology. Substances that change characteristics under pressure for instance, or mold and partially set up, then return, when pressure is released to a fluid shape. Imagine, a custome fit saddle tree, every time on every different horse you might ride. Most of them with gels are too wobbly but like corn startch under sudden pressure some new materials can hold the new shape for some time, and harden enough they don't wobble.
But even with current technology I think for the right horse under the right rider treeless is the way to go. I may try that with Bonnie, but that's three years away so don't wait for a report.
Dimensional pressure, referring to treed saddles, has minimum and maximum lmits. A short tree may be too short and put too much pressure in too small an area (the problem with BBPads in fact), while too long a tree will press into the top of the should as it rotates forward while the hoof is moving back from a stride. It will also press into the croup and especially sensitive area.
Then there is an issue of the curve, compound at that, or rather complex. Rounded left and right to accommodate the slope angle of the horses barrel, rounded too to accommodate the dip in the horse's back, front to rear.
It's very easy to misfit a saddle of any kind, even a treeless rigged incorrectly.
I just yesterday helped a youngster, a student of mine, with her brand new saddle. They ordered pretty carefully with my advice, and the saddle fit extremely well, both rider and horse. The young woman, sixteen, is quite small, and she swam in my 17.5 inch Pariani, yet her mother thought, when she saw this new saddle, it was too small for her at 17 inches. But it actually fits to a tee.
It's an All-purpose with extended panels which made me worry about the shoulder and croup pressure, but it's also very well flocked and turns out fits without pressure points showing up.
I also ran beside her with my hand under the front of the bars, one side at a time, of course, to see if the shoulder on her big AngloArabian rotated back under them. Nope. Nice fit. All around.
As all horses he is one sided so there is a tendency for this longer barred saddle to accentuate his one sidedness. Proper exercises will help with that.
I can't help but wonder if you misunderstood your trainer about pressure on shoulders and withers with a bareback pad. One would have to sit on the withers (ouch!) to accomplish that.
The only pressure I am aware of is, as I said, from the seat bones digging into the horse's back.
Not as severely as bareback, of course, but with some horses probably enough to disturb them.
Much would depend on the weight of the rider, in any case. How they sit, how well they move or don't with the horse.
The best saddle for the horse I ever used, and that only very shortly, was an old army issue McClellan. The worst saddle I ever used that I sat was the same saddle. That's why it got such short use. I was only 11 and thought I have found a great saddle to one up my friends with horses. Was I sadly mistaken.
But it left a nice even sweat mark on him with no gaps. I sometimes wonder if that tree might not make a good foundation with a better seat installed over it. I suspect it's been done but I'm too lazy today to do a search. It's hot, midday, and I'm sleepy so I'm going to nap, and then have some iced coffee, and then, when it's cool, go and play with Bonnie and Altea.