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Saddle fit (sorry!): Normal for cantle to pop up at posting trot?

So I’m going through saddle fitting (argh) with my new mare. Had a rep out recently. She picked out the demo that she thought fit my mare best. Saddle sat nicely on mare on cross-ties before and after girthing (no popping up at cantle while stationary).

We start the test ride and as I’m trotting around, I notice that on each up of the post, I’m able to stick my hand (my whole hand) under the saddle. (Hand gets squashed if I don’t pull it back out before I sit.) I raise a concern about this, pointing out what I’m doing with my hand, and rep says: that’s normal.

Rep seemed really knowledgeable-- certainly more knowledgeable than I am. But this thing with how the saddle was popping up while I was posting the trot is still bothering me.

Is rep really right about this being normal?

Looking forward to the answers to this. I certainly don’t know much about saddle fit, but my guess would be not, also.

No that should not happen and it will make your horse sore. It can be down to the saddle being too wide at the front or the saddle tree being too curved and rocking.
I wouldn’t trust this rep if she said it was normal!

No, that’s really not OK!

And if that “pop up” is so big that you noticed without being told to look for it, I’d say the saddle really doesn’t fit.

Usually, this means the saddle is too wide in front and/or it fits ok further back under the stirrup bars but opens up to a set of shoulders/withers that are wider than what your horse has. And also (and more often) it means the tree is too “banana shaped” front to back.

Also, IME, the Frenchies really can’t do a wide tree very well. That’s because (I hypothesize) the banana-shaped tree plus foam panels always invite the gullet of the saddle to be too wide at the top. The British, who start with flatter tree, have better luck with building for wide horses.

In any case, to check out the “too wide up top” hypothesis, put the saddle on the horse naked. Slide it back until the saddle stops. That’s where this saddle will sit on this horse, just about no matter what you do with pads or breastplates or superglue. Evaluate its fit from there. Now look at the leading edge of the panel by the withers. A saddle that “opens up too wide at the front” will often have panels that do nicely parallel the horse’s back further down. But up by the top, near the gullet, the saddle comes off the horse. There’s all kinds of room up there.

To look at the curve of tree, look at how much the panels rise up off the back before the cantle. Some rise is OK and part of the saddler’s design. But if you can roll the saddle back and forth on your horse naked, it’s a just about a deal-breaker in my world.

The big deal about a saddle that rolls front to back like this is that it has a rolling-pin like effect on the long, thing pair of muscles that run along the spinal processes. IME, you can make a horse quite sore quite quickly by using a rolling-pin close contact saddle on him! Be careful with this particular fitting problem.

And in general, the more educated you can get about saddle fit and feeling your horse’s back and muscles for what’s normal vs. not, the easier (and cheaper) time you’ll have saddle shopping. It really isn’t rocket science. But you, like the fitters, have to put in some time to learn what’s good fit, ok fit and “it will hurt him, maybe sooner, maybe later” fit.

Good luck to you, OP. I think your good question helped you dodge a bullet on this saddle.

Agreed. Obviously not right.

That’s definitely not right! I would be uncomfortable buying from a rep that thought that this was ok. Some rock is tolerable, it’s definitely better than bridging, but definitely not that much, and definitely not from a custom fitted saddle.

Definitely not right and a fantastic way to end up with a back sore horse… Great advice above. I would recommend looking at other brands and/or an independent saddle fitter. I wouldn’t buy from a rep who says that’s normal.

Your rep is an idiot.

It might be “normal” for that rep but it is not ACTUALLY NORMAL. It’s a problem. The saddle should not move like that as you ride.

Nope. Pivoting on the withers like that is really not good and will end up making your horse sore.

Finding a saddle fitter who understands how to fit the horse in motion is the key. Doesn’t help if the saddle fits while they are standing still.

Not okay! Find a new saddle fitter.

Your rep is an idiot.[/QUOTE]

MVP to the left with the lengthy rational answer. Meup to the right cutting to the chase. This person has no business fitting saddles.

No, not “normal” and certainly not right. If you buy a saddle from that rep, you are reinforcing her a) lack of general knowledge, or b) desire to take advantage of you and sell you a saddle that doesn’t really fit.

Thank you, everyone, for your replies. Having to separate out the misinformation while you’re trying to learn about saddle fitting yourself makes the process even more challenging and frustrating. Really appreciate the guidance from you all!

Active and static fit can be vastly different. Saddles can “pop” up for various reasons including tree width, tree shape longitudinally, as well as, laterally, asymmetry and so on. It could be too wide, not enough depth in front, too curvy, balance point wrong and the list goes on. A very upswept or thin rear gusset can have this effect too, depending on the fit of the rest of the saddle. Very minor movement isn’t necessary something to fret about but “butt feedback” or major pivoting isn’t a good thing.