Saddle fit issues are a common source of problems with sports horses.
Improper fit of a saddle can cause many problems; reluctant behavior, bucking, lameness, and back pain symptoms are just some of them.
For a proper evaluation of saddle fit, at first the anatomical fit of the saddle has to be evaluated.There are several anatomical landmarks in the horse’s body that are important factors for saddle fit. Shoulder blade position is a first and very important factor, especially the tip of the shoulder blade (part of the withers region) needs to be free of contact with the saddle, otherwise the protrusion phase of the front leg is limited, which can be interpreted as front limb (shoulder) lameness.
Clearly the form and shape of the withers is an important factor for saddle fit. To make things more complicated, the withers can change shape during the training of a horse when muscles gets stronger and more voluminous, so suddenly a perfectly fitting saddle does not fit anymore.
The length and width of the thoracolumbar spine are also very important factors for saddle fit, the shape and size of the panels can inhibit lateral flexion of the thoracic spine.
As veterinarians specialized in sports medicine, our veterinarians are perfectly equipped to asses the anatomical saddle fit. Their scientific background and high level of knowledge about the anatomy and physiology of the equine spine makes them the experts par excellence to evaluate saddle fit and give an independent (we don’t sell saddles!) advise for your saddle.
Especially when you encounter problems with saddle fit, and you are not sure if your saddle is causing the problems or a potential other injury is bothering your horse, you need the specific expertise of our veterinarians.
You need to find out if the saddle is the cause of your horse’s symptoms, so you need to make changes to your saddle (or eventually buy a new one!), or that another pathological process in muscles, the spine or it’s legs is causing the problems, and changes to your saddle are not making a lot of difference. You can read our information about back pain in the education section of our website or download the powerpoint presentation about back pain to get more information about this topic.
Our doctors with their specific expertise on back pain, lameness and sports medicine are the perfect partner to incorporate in your search for a saddle fit-associated solution!