Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dawn Complains

Dawn has started complaining about saddling. Partly this may have been due to her going into heat - her heats are less noticeable since we started using Mare Magic - and partly I think it's a saddle fit issue. I'm using my Rodrigo saddle that fits Maisie like a glove. To use it on Dawn, I've been using a front riser pad, which our chiropractor said made the saddle fit Dawn "OK". Dawn's a hard horse to fit - she's wide in the barrel, fairly low and somewhat chunky in the withers, has broad shoulders and is slightly downhill. The past several days, she's been making very ugly faces and even showing her teeth to me - she doesn't bite because that's not allowed but opinions are - as I'm putting on the pad and saddle, not so much when I'm tightening the girth. This makes me think it's the saddle itself that's the issue.

Also, I think Dawn's shape's changed a little bit since we've been working hard - she's lost some weight and also built some muscle. The result of that is the saddle no longer fits right in the shoulder and wither area, I think. The riser pad is putting pressure on the area behind her shoulders and isn't allowing for good contact in the area behind and below her withers. So today we rode without the riser pad to feel how that was. I've tried this before, and the result was that the saddle tended to tip forwards too much because of being too loose in the shoulders and to rock too much - a little rocking is OK. Without the riser pad today, the shoulder clearance felt pretty good, but I noticed that when she was trotting, the front edge of the saddle was pretty tight on her shoulders. We worked pretty hard - lots of trot shortening and lengthening of stride, some lateral work (leg yields at walk and trot and the beginnings of walk pirouette) and did some softening work at the canter. No tipping down this time and less rocking, and I thought her movement was a bit freer. It was clear when I took it off, however, that it still wasn't making good contact just behind the shoulders and still was a little pinchy at the front edge. So I've taken a knife to the riser pad to see if I can customize it a bit to eliminate the shoulder pinching and improve contact behind the shoulders - the pad is really old and wasn't working anyway so if I mess it up it doesn't matter. We'll see what Dawn has to say about that the next time we ride (pictures of the butchered pad will be provided if it works)! If that doesn't work, there's always the folded washcloths stuffed between the flaps and padding method of adjusting saddle fit - if I resort to that I'll take pictures too. Whatever we do, I think our chiropractor will be visiting soon and we'll see what she thinks, but I expect Dawn will tell me what works and what doesn't.

In other news, Joe has managed to hurt his left hind, and it's apparently the superior digital flexor tendon (the big one running down the back of the leg from the hock to the pastern) - not a bow but he's pretty uncomfortable and on stall rest. The vet is coming tomorrow to ultrasound it to see how bad it is, and I'll have her look at Maisie's left hind (what is it with left hinds these days?) suspensory and possibly ultrasound it as well. That may give me a better idea of what her prognosis is and how her rehab should go.


18 comments:

  1. Horses are so fragile, aren't they!

    I used to use Mare Magic until I descovered www.herbnhorse.com. The only ingredient in Mare Magic is Raspberry Leaves, and you can buy it in bulk through this website. It is only $4.20/pound. I've ordered from them many times. Much cheaper for the same thing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I recently read that sometimes if your saddle doesn't fit properly you can restrict proper muscle growth in the shoulder/wither area. I think that was what was happening to Tucker with our prior saddle, which was a little narrower through the pommel. I now have one with a wider pommel and was using front shims but found that after time I didn't need the shims because his muscle developed more one it had room to do so. Sounds like Dawn's muscle development is changing as well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ugh, saddle fit and vet calls... tough stuff. Best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Won't mention an Ansur again....honest. *G*

    With the work you've been doing with Dawn, I would not be surprised that the saddle fit has changed. Her wither area has probably started to muscle nicely. Hope you can adjust the saddle fit to suit her new physique.

    Hope Joe is OK. Hind end things are a frustrating indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm a beginner on the horse trail so I can't offer any great advice, just best wishes that all these problems and obstacles are soon overcome =) Thanks for including all the sidebar things like the Mark Rashid clinics. He's been recommended several times to me!

    ~~ JennyB, Horsefeathers

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jean - I'd love an Ansur, but I've already got 3 saddles, only one of which fits any of my horses! Maybe if I could sell the other two . . .

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have struggled with finding a good fit for my guys. It's taken a year to find a saddle that fits and that I can afford. My next worry is whether I need to be getting some sort of fancy, foamy, spongy saddle pad! Right now everything seems to fit well, though.
    I keep telling my horses how lucky they are to live in this era. Just think of the discomfort horses probably suffered way back when, when there weren't many saddle options.
    Good luck with finding a solution for Dawn.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Saddle fitting is a pain in the booty! Horse's gain and lose muscle which makes fitting a definite challenge... well, unless you can have 3 different saddles for one horse!

    I've been using a riser pad on Lilly to lift up the front of the saddle. It has made a huge difference for her in both western and english saddles and I can see a change in her attitude. She's much less cranky about saddling.

    Sorry about the tendon issue... I hope the ultrasound brings good news!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Kate, I have a Parelli Thera-Flex air bladder type pad, it is pricey but....it is the only pad I have ever found that makes saddles fit Gilly's back. He has high withers, broad shoulders, with a hollow behind the shoulders and a short back. I have gone through 5 saddles and many pads and finally when I got the Parelli pad now I have no problems with the saddle fitting. I have a Thornhill wide dressage saddle and using the pad that you can adjust the amount of air on each side, plus I have to use some shims for behind the shoulders but the fit is wonderful. His whole back is wet when the saddle comes off, no dry spots! He's happy!
    I am not promoting Parelli's stuff but really, this pad is worth is weight in gold to me. I know others who love them also. Here is the link to the pad and on the page are links to click on to read more about it.
    http://shop.parellinaturalhorsetraining.com/product.jsf?catId=21
    It may be worth checking into for you. I use the English one and I also used it with a round skirted western saddle I had. Worked great for both saddles.

    Sorry to hear about Joe, hope things get healed up soon! I am lucky that Gilly seems to be pretty healthy and not get into trouble! Now that I've said that...I'd better keep my fingers crossed! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Kate, What a challenge it is to get the saddle and pads to fit well! It sounds like you know how to tell what works for her, and you have a good plan for trying different options. Hope all goes well with the vet, and the pads! (And congrats on your upcoming honeymoon!)

    ReplyDelete
  11. It sounds like Dawn has her reasons! I am always changing saddles on my mare and she never complains but there are always so much padding between her and the saddle, Im not even sure what she actually feels! As usual, I can't wait to read more to see how the cranky saddling story unfurls

    ReplyDelete
  12. I feed Mare Magic to Dee. I really don't know if it helps but I'm afraid to quit feeding it now lol.

    My sister's gelding's shape changed dramatically when she started doing dressage with him. A saddle that was a reasonable fit was suddenly way too narrow for him.

    Good luck with the vet tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've had lots of problems fitting a saddle to Dusty and Blue. We did have a saddle fitter come out and trace for a tree. She came back with one that's fits both of them perfectly. The price isn't bad for the saddle either, (Black Country Saddles). I'm in the same boat also,I've got too many saddles that don't fit any of our current horses. Anyway, hope you find the right configuration for Dawn's comfort.

    Hope the hind end kids are feeling better soon.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm in the same boat, I always wind up with 3 or 4 saddles but only one that actually fits anybody! But then I am hesitant to sell them because who knows when I might need them or due to changes in physique they might now fit someone again. This sport is so expensive. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. You might try a gaited saddle if anyone has one in the barn. They are very wide at the shoulder... and high in the wither.

    ReplyDelete
  16. My two cents...We have held many saddle fitting clinics here with Ann Forrest out of Florida. The saddle that has fit many horses is the Albion (I have one). My horse has a long low back and I use a Mattes pad that comes with shims. It gives you a great deal of flexibility in the front and back. Not fitting properly can be very painful for the horse. It's like us putting a size 9 foot into a size 7 shoe and being expected to perform. Hope you can get something that works. Dawn will appreciate it, I'm sure.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Kate! Just wanted to say I love your blog. You used to comment on my old blog and now that I have a new I'd figure I would come over and say hey! Hope you get the saddle issue sorted soon.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love people who listen to their horses. I've never used that Mare Magic (we don't have any mares) but I'm wondering how it works. Sounds interesting.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for commenting - we appreciate it. No spam or marketing comments will be published.