Extra Padding for Saddle Fit

This is for a college assignment

The exact question is “When might extra padding be useful for saddle fit?”

Based on the nature of the questions, my teacher did not mean saddle pads, but panel flocking. I’ve tried googling every variety of this question I could think of, and all I get are saddle pad articles. Can someone tell me why this would be useful for saddle fitting? I think that this would be used for horses that are either narrow or have sensitive spots, but I’d rather have a firm answer than guesses. Thanks!

In my mare’s case, it would be useful. She’s recently been diagnosed with Cushings and has muscle wasting along her topline. As a result, her saddle is a wider fit than it used to be, and there are areas behind her withers where the panels don’t make consistent contact with her back. Because this is a new diagnosis and the vet is hopeful that we can get weight back on her and get her muscle tone back, I’m currently using a shimmable saddle pad to fill in those gaps. If this were a long-term situation where that physical issue wouldn’t be resolved, then I could see adding extra flocking to the saddle to correct the fit.

When a horse is going though a fairly rapid physical change. Weight gain, weight loss, conditioning. Padding through the transition to keep the saddle fitting isn’t a bad thing. Once the horse has plateaued at their new shape, then it’s time to fit the saddle and minimize the padding.

Let’s see . . .

Muscle wasting
Sway back
Uneven development
Seasonal changes
Weight loss
Conformational abnormalities . . .

I’m sure there are others.

Good luck! :slight_smile:

If a horse is between saddle tree sizes, you would get the larger tree and then pad it up

If you have a younger horse that you expect to widen and fill out, get larger tree and flock it up - saddle fitter could then adjust and remove flocking as horse grows up

If a rider already has a saddle that they love, and gets a new horse that’s narrower, some adjustments could be made

Only useful to a point, as there’s only so much you can do with flocking before you really do need to go down a tree size

Talk to a good saddle fitter in your area. There are all kinds of different reasons and they’d make a great resource for you.

I have an arab cross with REALLY high withers, hollows, slight sway and the left side is a little more hollow than the right. We used shims in a Mattes pad to fill in the hollows until the custom saddle came in.
With the custom saddle we still use a small felt shim on the left to fill in that extra hollow spot. My saddle fitter does not like to asymetrically flock a saddle.

Note to self: blog about this for The Saddle Geek in the near future.

In the meantime, Kitt Hazelton wrote a thoughtful post in 2010 about various panel modifications for horses with certain conformations. It’s not the end-all be-all guide to panels, but you may find it helpful for your assignment.

You can also search the whole blog for the term “panels” if you want to dive even deeper.