Contact us with your stories about badly fitting saddles and using the Perfect Fit saddle fitting kit.
Kathryn Angus - 10:40am Aug 14
Well I've used the kit on three of our gg's so far and it's just fantastic.
It's very easy to use, with the instructions being very comprehensive. From having saddle fitters out to fit from scratch the process always seemed a bit complicated, but your kit has really demystified a lot of it for me.
Being able to see where the saddle doesn't fit the horse is great and being able to create a history of templates for each horse is going to be very helpful.
So congrats on a great product—would recommend this kit to anyone who has a horse.
Rolo is my home bred fifteen year old, warm blood, bay gelding. About 2 years ago I noticed that his saddle was a little low in the front. A friend of mine was having some work done by a saddler and, as he seemed a knowledgeable person, I asked him to restuff it for me. After it has been done, I asked him to check the fit, which, he said, was fine. As I knew next to nothing about saddle fitting, I had no reason to doubt him. At that time Rolo was working really well and I was about to start teaching him changes. I expected him to find it easy, but he didn't. He got into a real stew and I, thinking I was doing something wrong, stopped, but, not only did Rolo's tension remain, it got worse. In canter he would bend his body this way and that as if he was scared that I was about to ask him for a change. Then the tension moved into other areas of his work, until he was a tense and unhappy horse in every area of his work and life. All this time I was blaming myself for bad riding. Then, out of the blue, Rolo started to compulsively scratch himself. Fearing some kind of illness, I got the Vet out. He did blood tests and looked him over, but came up with nothing. My next recourse was to a physiotherapist, I can't remember why, she went straight to the saddle, saying it was too tight. She worked on him on several occasions and I replaced his saddle, both of which helped him hugely. I realised later that the saddler had overstuffed the original saddle, making it almost as hard as a brick, the extra stuffing making the saddle tighter than it should be. No wonder my poor horse was unhappy and tense, he was coping with a lot of pain from his back.
Despite the new saddle and the physio's help, much of his tension remained and, during the course of the next year or so, he bucked me off several times and ran away with me on a hack, something he had never done before. He had become a nightmare to hack out, being terrified all the time. It seemed like he had lost his trust for everything and everyone in life. I wondered what else could be wrong with him. In my quest, I asked a Thermal Imager to take a thermal picture of him. She showed me that she could see a lot of pain in the sacroiliac joint and along his back and shoulders. It seems that while trying to contort his body to escape the pain of the saddle he had twisted his spine and it was still twisted. She recommended a McTimoney Corley chiropractor who adjusted his pelvis. Again he improved markedly. A few months later, because he still wasn't quite 'right' another chiropractor came to see him and, like putting in the final piece of the jigsaw, she adjusted his atlas joint and fixed him completely. Now, at last, I have a calm happy horse, who trusts me, trusts life and is a delight to have as a friend.
I'm just thinking that if I there had been such a thing as the Perfect Fit Saddle Fitting Kit, and if there had been, I would certainly have bought one, I would have made a quick check of the fit of the saddle and how it had been stuffed and known instantly that I couldn't have used it. This would have saved my horse many, many months of pain and me many, many months of anguish, not to mention the cost and the pain of being dumped on the floor so many times. It astounds me how long it took, and how many wonderful people, to finally make him better. That badly fitting saddle left physical, emotional and behavioural scars on my precious horse which certainly tested my resolve. If any of you reading this have similar problems don't let a stone be unturned until you have found the way to make your horse more comfortable.
Hi Liz, I was just rereading your article about your saddle fitting problems. It would go awfully well in our website saddle fitting stories. Would it be Ok with you if I put it in there? All the best,
Clare Albinson / Lyndsey Scott -
The Perfect Fit Saddle Fitting Kit
Saddle story in ETN Date: Tue, 20 Sep 2011 17:03:24 +0100
Dear Clare, it was a pleasure talking to you this afternoon. Below is the copy I wrote for a previous ETN. Recent copies are on their way to you. I'm so looking forward to receiving my 'kit' – and your article. With many thanks, best regards, Liz
CASE STUDY from Equestrian Trade News editor Liz Benwell.
I was having a job finding a suitable saddle for my four year old Anglo Arab,
Four years, 19 saddles and several (variously qualified) saddle fitters later, Melton Mowbray based saddlers S. Milner & Son working with The Ideal Saddle Company came to the rescue.
Having tried to go down the'correct' route when my young horse needed her first saddle, on three occasions, I had been given my money back by helpful but unsuccessful SMS qualified saddle fitters. One saw my horse and said 'no thanks'. In desperation, I went on to buy saddles from ebay (one of which very nearly worked) and went down the 'alternative' and treeless routes (a disaster).
Most alarmingly, I was sold a saddle that turned out to have the panels laced on asymmetrically. And by the time I realised what was wrong – despite repeatedly telling the saddle fitter something was amiss and not being listened to – more damage was done to the horse's back.
Yes, as well as sore muscles (treated by a qualified physiotherapist) my mare has had plenty of saddle rubs. Fortunately, especially in the case of the 'twisted' saddle, she doesn't tolerate discomfort for long and begins tail swishing, bucking and throwing herself onto the floor if she's unhappy. A common theme was for her to refuse to go down steep hills in most of the saddles.
Finally, it was Kirsty Milner, SMS saddle fitter at S. Milner & Son, who was prepared to put in the extra effort to find a saddle that fitted correctly. There was no flash salesmanship, but Kirsty clearly put much thought into the process.
"Liz's horse is very short-coupled but also very round. This meant that the saddles she had tried before sat on the horse's shoulder and just stopped there,"said Kirsty.
"Because she is so incredibly short-backed, we opted for an Integra double flap saddle with a 16" seat on a 15.5" panel. The Integra fits out of the shoulder quite well and so doesn't collapse on the shoulder. We also had point straps fitted and less flocking than normal."
The Integra is one of the designs produced by Ideal for its sister company, Walsall Riding. Kirsty was able to go to Ideal with the measurements and trace she had taken. Along with the various modifications she requested to the standard design, the company was able to produce a version of the saddle to fit my horse.
Thanks to Kirsty, at last I've been able to enjoy riding and even jumping my now eight year old mare. My lovely new saddle looks fabulous, although I wouldn't have cared if it was sky blue pink provided it fitted the horse, yet I paid no more than the normal retail price. That's amazingly good value for all the expertise that has gone into it.
Needless to say, my horse and I have been back to S. Milner & Son for regular saddle checks. On one visit, Kirsty's husband and fellow saddle fitter Andy Milner's passing shot made me smile: "Whatever you do, don't breed with her!"
I bought Princess about 4 years ago. She's a lovely bright bay with four white socks and the most beautiful nature. I bought her just for hacking out, but then my friend started jumping her horse, so I thought I'd have a go too. She seemed to be a natural and sailed over almost everything I put her at, but every so often she put a stop in. Once or twice, when this happened, my friend got on her and really smacked her and shouted at her to get her over the jumps. She said she was being naughty. Princess was never naughty in other ways, but her bullying always seemed to get her over the jump. I didn't like watching her being hit because she was such a sweet horse, but I know so little about riding and my friend knew so much I let her carry on.
I couldn't understand it for ages, because most of the time she really enjoyed her jumping, but then someone pointed out that it always happened when she was on the right rein. We experimented with her and found that she only refused when the turn was fairly tight. I realised that when we were working in the school on the right rein, she didn't feel right either and hated doing a small circle to the right. I suppose it didn't matter to me that much, because I'm not a serious rider, but I was bothered that she may be hurting, I couldn't let that happen, I had to help her. Someone I was talking to about it suggested I get a horse physiotherapist to look at her, so I did and she told me that the saddle didn't fit her- she said it bridged and showed me how she could slide her hand between Princess and the underneath of her saddle. I'd bought the saddle with Princess from her last owners, thinking I was doing the best thing I could for her and it wasn't cheap. She explained that my weight was resting on two smallish areas putting lots of pressure there. She said it was like wearing a shoe that was too tight and would have been constantly rubbing her. Just like someone with an uncomfortable shoe, Princess had tried to escape the pain by bending her body. I got a new saddle that fitted and when I rode Princess next she was happy to work in a straight line or turn to the right easily and jumping on the right rein she was as right as rain!
A few months ago I was talking to a boy whose horse wouldn't jump at all, well not if the jump was more than two foot off the ground anyway. I told him what had happened to Princess and, on the strength of that, his parents got someone to look at his pony. That person, I think they were a chiropractor, found that the saddle was too tight and hurting the pony every time he jumped, so he'd learnt not to jump. Apparently he's got a new saddle too and they're winning everything
NO ONE WOULD FIT THE SADDLE
A couple of years ago we were looking for a dressage saddle for my precious mare. A friend was selling hers so she gave it us to try. It was roughly the right width at the withers and we could see through the gullet, but that was all we knew about saddle fitting then. We rang round a few saddlers asking if they would check its fit and none of them would, even for a fee. They were only interested in selling new saddles. In the end we gave the saddle back because we weren't prepared to take the risk. Now of course we'd just get the perfect fit kit out and we'd know immediately. Wish it had been around then. Wish it had been always been around.
A PRIVATE COMPETITION YARD
A top class competition yard tells their experience of commissioning brand new, top of the range saddles, made to measure for each horse on the yard. When the saddles arrived, it became obvious that the saddles made for each horse actually fitted other horses better. The fitter did not seem to be embarrassed or surprised by this. The yard owner accepted the situation believing that the saddles had been fitted correctly. However, within a short time, two horses were showing stiffness, loss in performance, decrease in suppleness and one was seriously lame. This was investigated and traced back to ill fitting saddles. The horses were given top class veterinary care and substantial rest and are now returning to cautious work with new saddles. It is interesting to note in this case that the underside panels in this particular make of saddle are extremely 'tight' and quite hard to the touch
CAROLINE AND HER NINE YEAR OLD MARE SARA
Caroline was delighted to have bought a top competition horse and was determined that only the very best would do for her new star! She contacted a very well known saddle brand and commissioned a made to measure saddle. The saddle arrived in a box (not accompanied by a fitter) and Caroline trusted that this saddle would be perfect for Sara. Unfortunately, after only a few months, Sara became extremely stiff on one rein and then actually started to show serious lameness in one hind limb. Investigations were made to find the cause and Caroline was horrified to discover that the underside panels of her new saddle did not match. One panel was significantly more angled than the other. This meant that Sara was having to move and jump with far more pressure on one side of her back than the other. The panels were supposed to be precision cut and made from 'horse friendly' latex guaranteeing comfort. In fact, the panels were each from a different size of saddle and had been used by accident.
The saddle has been sent back to the manufacturer but Sara is still lame and being treated by the physiotherapist.
Advert seen on British Dressage Classified Site
Wow saddle for sale. Perfect, as new condition. Made to measure, but did not fit!