This has to be my millionth saddle fitting thread on COTH. :lol: I brought popcorn.
I had an independent saddle fitter out today to check the fit of my mother’s saddle and one I was looking at for purchase. The fitter said: You need a hoop tree on this horse.
“This horse” is a wide-shouldered fellow with a curvy back, moderate withers, and wither hollows. He has been going in a saddle very similar to the one I was trying for almost the last 10 years: same tree, slightly different panel. In that 10 years, he has not had a saddle fit problem. I define this as: In that 10 years, his vet/chiropractor (who has taken care of him for 15 years,) the barn vet/chiropractor (who has done his routine care and chiro for 2 years,) his massage therapist, his farrier, and I have not seen pain, tenderness, atrophy, or anything else going on in the topline or way of going that we could attribute to the saddle. We have seen pain and tenderness in the SI that seemed to originate in the feet and resolved by adjusting his shoeing, and topline muscle atrophy secondary to “25 year old horse being ridden less due to age and quarantine.” We have also seen substantial positive development of the topline after changes in work and an overall positive change in his way of going over that time.
I’m not saying the fitter was wrong. I saw what she was seeing, I understood her recommendation, and I’m not trying to buy the saddle she told me not to buy. However, I have to wonder- my horse speaks really good English, I know him well, and he has a great care team who has known him for a long time. I ride him bareback often enough to feel a difference in his way of going between saddle and no saddle. And not one of us on his team heard him say “this isn’t good for me.” So, I’m having a hard time understanding if the saddle that I had was not good and he was compensating brilliantly (fitter’s opinion,) or if it was actually good enough the whole time and changing from a generous A-frame tree to a hoop tree would be better.
Anyone have experience with the line between “actually good and right in all ways” and “good enough”? How did your horse tell you? How did he improve when you got to “actually good”?
(BTW- I’d previously posted re. creative shimming solutions for my mom’s saddle that I had him going in a set of shims I made out of running shoe insoles because there was nothing on-market that did what I needed. The fitter said that was, and I quote, “genius” and confirmed Mom should keep riding that way. I use this to illustrate that I am not a total moron about the geometry of saddle fitting. There is always more to learn!)