Monday, 28 May 2012

Dare I mention saddles...again?!

Things have been progressing, slowly. After the vet's visit, we have upped the long-reining - we're now at 40mins walk per session, with a couple of short trots (I'm getting fit too!) and I rode her a couple of times bareback in the field too, which was good.

However, on Friday I had a new saddler come out and look at the saddle I got from Jane. It was interesting. She said the saddle is ok, but she said Echo is very uneven. It was quite refreshing, actually. She is the first saddler who has looked at my horse and said - 'yes, she's wonky, so we need to make the saddle fit her,' rather than telling me that it's best to have the saddle even and that will somehow make her even. It doesn't work, and I end up with a sore horse! She described Echo as 'cross-threaded', which is pretty perfect to explain her problems - she has a bigger right hip and left shoulder, and a smaller left hip and right shoulder, so she doesn't move straight through her body - a bit of a problem when it comes to saddles!

So she added some flocking to the right side, to 'fill the hole' behind her right wither - she has quite severe muscle atrophy there and this causes no end of problems with saddle fitting. She put it on her with no numnah, watched me ride in it and said it hadn't moved at all. She wants to see it again in about 6 weeks, after the vet has reassessed her and hopefully before we start building in canter work.

I went to an interesting lecture a couple of weeks ago by Gillian Higgins, who writes the 'Horses Inside Out' books and she explained (among many other things) that when a horse carries a rider, it has to hold its back muscles, rather like us sustaining a squat position for a prolonged period of time. this made me think, as Echo is so weak at the moment. I have, therefore, been only riding her for about 15 minutes at a time so far, and I will break this up with days of long-reining to keep checking her straightness and keep the longer periods of walk.

So I rode her in the field on Saturday for 10 minutes, which was good, then took her down the track for a 15 minute hack yesterday evening. I am trying really hard to believe that the saddle is ok, but it looks to me as if it is STILL twisting slightly to the right. The flocking was supposed to stop that happening. I wonder if I am putting the saddle too far forward...or back...I don't know. She felt a little bit sore on the left of her spine this morning - and when her saddle twists, it brings the left panel across so it sits painfully on her spine. I just don't understand it - it was FINE when the saddler was here!

I am going to long-rein tomorrow, and she is having physio hopefully on Wednesday, so she should be able to look at whether she's sore or not. Then...I don't know. I'll have a play with the placing of the saddle and see if that makes a difference. I also wonder whether it is me that's crooked and I pull the saddle to the right. Either way, it's so frustrating!

I have, however, been keeping up with the yoga and she is getting much better at it. The physio was also pleased when she watched her trot up a couple of weeks ago, saying she looked much more sound now and she isn't lifting her right hind higher than the left any more.

Here are the before and after photos from Saturday evening.

Before yoga - just snapped as she was standing:

After yoga - again, just taken as I saw her standing. Note how square and straight she is (except being a big poser for the camera!)


Kelly said...


I just had my 3 month saddle check on my County dressage saddle I had made for Riva. When the saddle was made, Riva had muscle atrophy in her right shoulder (her club foot side) so she added more flocking to that side.

When we did the saddle check today, her muscle has increased and she was able to remove some flocking. But then added some to the left side - I had curvature of the spine and I weight my left stirrup more, so she said the flocking will break down faster of that side.

So when you said you might be crooked - you may be right and that could be causing some of Echo's issues.

Keep at it! Sounds like you are making progress.

Cat said...

I'm so glad to hear that Echo is still progressing and that you have made slight progress with the saddle fitting issue. It's very interesting what we learn about them, like Echo's hip and shoulder differences. Is the muscle atrophy behind one shoulder a result of her recent tightness / soreness / lameness or has that always been one of the issues with the saddle fitting? I find the yoga thing thing very interesting and have been watching how my 3 stand naturally when they are at rest. Interestingly it's little Buttons who who almost always stands square of his own accord. I've been trying a little yoga on Wolfie and he's gradually getting used to it. Echo looks very well and you seem to be doing a grand job. It must be difficult to continue with the saddle when you find it hard to trust it not to make her sore, but it sounds like you've got great communication between your phsyio, saddler, vet and farrier and everyone is listening to what Echo's body is telling them.

Suzie said...

I will definitely look into my straightness/crookedness. As for the muscle atrophy, I think it has always been there a bit. She's weaker in her right hind and I've always had more difficulty bending her to the right. But it's much more pronounced at the moment. I don't know whether it's that causing the twisting or the hind end movement or me...ugh why is saddle fitting so difficult!

achieve1dream said...

I'm so happy she's standing more square! :D She looks great.

As for the saddle try putting it on without the pad like the saddler did to see if you can find the right spot and then maybe ride in it without stirrups so you can maybe see if you're weighting one stirrup more than the other which might cause the twisting. Not sure if that will work as I've never actually dealt with the problem personally but it's worth a shot.

The thing you mentioned about the back being like us doing squats is why I'm only riding Chrome twice a week for ten to fifteen minutes. People I'm around (in real life, not the blog) are telling me to ride him everyday, but that just sounds like it would make him hideously sore!! He's only had a rider six times. He has to build up his back muscles! I do need to start exercising him more though (without a rider) otherwise he won't build up any muscles.

Good luck with the saddle! I hope you can figure it out soon.

achieve1dream said...

Yeah a trailer is the one you pull with your truck. Rear facing ones aren't as common around here, but a stock trailer has large open stalls where the horse can move around as much as they want while driving and stand however they are most comfortable. The only thing that worries me on that is if we had to stop suddenly or were in a wreck he was get knocked down.

Daily adventures while training my young horse.