A client recently asked me what the strangest symptom was that I’d seen in a horse to indicate it needed its saddle fitted. I did have a couple of stories to relate, but they were from my own horses. At saddle fitting appointments I only see horses for a short time so I don’t usually see the weird things they do, I usually only see what happens in the barn and arena such as after the saddle is fitted the horse is less girthy, the transitions get easier, the horse becomes straighter, lighter off the aids, etc., the “normal” saddle fit indicators.
Have you had a horse with a weird symptom related to saddle fit?
When I first got my current tall dark and handsome mount, he was underweight and very lacking in fitness so he went through several saddles. At one point I noticed he needed an upgrade, the saddle was no longer conforming to his body as well as it had, but it was early summer when my business is at its busiest, and he seemed to be moving fine, his work in the arena was coming along well, so I decided it would be OK for him to wait a little while. The only issue we were having was on the trails behind the barn, with one particular bridge.
He hated that bridge all of a sudden. It used to be fine, but then he got a little sticky crossing it, and then he got a lot sticky. If I dismounted and led him across then we could have a perfectly lovely trail ride on the other side, and it was no problem to cross it on the way home. Over 2 or 3 weeks he started balking farther from the bridge. I started carrying a whip, he started threatening to rear. I racked my mind and couldn’t figure out what his issue was.
Then we sorted out his saddle, and we never had a problem with that bridge again. From the very first ride out post-fitting he marched right up to and over that bridge as if it wasn’t even there, and we never had a problem with it again.