Augh! (Saddle innards)

Discussion in '2004 Archive of Posts' started by galadriel, Apr 30, 2004.

  1. galadriel

    galadriel New Member

    Haven't had my hands directly on any Niedersuss, but that one does look good from the outside :)

    If I were looking at this saddle to buy (and couldn't check it out myself), I'd want a picture of it from directly above, to get a look at the symmetry of the tree. In the pic from directly behind the cantle, it looks like the tree may be slightly twisted--but that sould simply be the angle from which the picture was taken, and it's near impossible to get a straight-on picture of the cantle. A picture from directly in front could also help.

    The gullet width looks good from the front to the back; it doesn't look like it makes a V from the front to the back :)

    I think the back of the right panel may be wider than the left--it looks that way in both the upside down picture and the cantle picture. Alternatively the panels could just be offset slightly to the left; that would make the right panel more prominent toward the center (and thus make it look bigger). This was extremely common in the saddles we examined, by the way. But again, it could be that neither picture is *directly* head-on.

    The leather doesn't look like it's going to wear out any time soon. :)

    The flocking isn't something you can see from a pictures, but the bottom should be entirely smooth and not lumpy at all. From the glare I'd guess that the panels aren't lumpy, but I have no way of knowing for sure. Theres also no way to tell what kind of flocking is in it (good wool, less good wool, synthetic stuff, foam etc).

    From the pictures that I can see, I would guess that the panels are slightly offset to the left, which has caused the rider to ride somewhat crookedly trying to compensate (trying to stay centered over the gullet, which is slightly to the left). This would cause a slight twist in the tree, and also uneven wear on the panels; the panels would be much more compacted on one side. Again the pictures may be causing an optical illusion--but even if the pictures are representing the saddle accurately, then all of the above is fixable.

    Most of the above I am confident that I could handle, if it arrived in less-than-perfect condition. If it had a broken tree or a major twist, I wouldn't be able to do anything about it without completely replacing the tree (on a saddle selling used for $900, it might be worth it). If you have somoene around you who does a good job with saddle repair, then you also might be able to be somewhat cavalier about minor-to-medium imperfections.

    But if you yourself can't, and you don't have anyone you trust to do work on a saddle, then you'll probably want to be very precise about whether the tree is sound, the panels are on straight, the panels are smoothly and evenly flocked, the tree is sound, the billets and stirrup bars are symmetrical, etc. It's going to be difficult enough getting a used saddle to fit your horse properly without a total reflocking.
  2. Tootsie4U

    Tootsie4U New Member

    I *think* all of them have foam padding. I know I read it on the description for the Symphony, at least.

    Not looking to buy *yet* as Mr. B and I are still sorting out our destination. I figure he'll go more hj than he will dressage so Im waiting to find out before I make such a financial commitment to a piece of leather, wood, wool and some nails :D I do plan to buy new rather than used unless its one heck of a deal that I can't turn down.

    If a saddle has a "wide" tree, will it also tend to have a wide channel / gullet?

    If Im crossing any lines asking questions like this, please feel free to tell me to shut up :D I'll understand; ignorance speaking here - I dont quite understand the meaning of a twisted tree. From things I've read, it can either mean that the tree is warped for whatever reason or that it has been molded by the saddle manufacturer for a better feel for the rider. New saddle descriptions say "twisted tree" like its a selling point... I dont understand. I would think twisted tree means that it would be uncomfortable for both horse and rider.... completely spacey on this subject.... sorry.
  3. KarinUS

    KarinUS Active Member

    I think 'narrow twist' is for the comfort of the rider. 'Twisted tree' is bad- defective.
  4. Tootsie4U

    Tootsie4U New Member

    Hmm. I think you've got it Karin, duh Tootsie.

    Anyway, I still wouldnt mind an explanation as to what is a narrow twist (what is twisted, is it always twisted?) Im learning... be gentle :D
  5. KarinUS

    KarinUS Active Member

    The Twist

    Here's everything you ever wanted to know about the twist:

    The twist of the saddle, viewed from above, is the narrowest portion of the seat, located just behind the pommel. Saddles can be broadly categorized into narrow twist and broad twist, with great variation possible within each category. The general type of twist you need depends upon the conformation of your pelvis and the way the femur is attached to it as well as the shape of the inner thigh muscle.

    Let's begin by separating the boys from the girls. Figure 3 illustrates the basic skeletal differences between men and women with regard to the shape of the pelvis. As you can see, women's seat bones tend to be further apart than those of men. This can cause a problem if the twist of the saddle is too narrow. In such a case, the seat bones are not correctly positioned on top of the saddle but fit down around the saddle - a very uncomfortable position! However this is a very rare situation since the seatbones do not sit on the saddle close to the pommel, but considerably further back, where the saddle begins to broaden. In fact, the crotch pain that many riders, especially women, experience rarely has anything to do with the width between the seatbones. Instead it has everything to do with the positioning of the femur in relation to the pelvis and the shape of the muscle of the inner thigh.

    The shafts of the two femurs are separated by the diameter of the pelvis and the shafts slope downward and inward to bring the knee joints near the line of gravity of the body. Owing to the female pelvis' being shallower and wider than that of men, this inward slope tends to be greater in women (left illustration) than it is in men (right illustration) though there is considerable variation between individuals. The more knock-kneed an individual is the more the inner thigh muscle tends to be relatively round. The more nearly perpendicular the shafts of the pelvis hang, the flatter the inner thigh muscle (the reason that most men have much flatter inner thigh muscles than women and thus much less difficulty getting the thigh to lie flat against the saddle).

    What has all this to do with crotch pain, you ask?

    When the rider sits correctly in the saddle he (or she) will be supported by his seatbones, the pubic crest (crotch) and the muscles of the inner thigh. The two generalized saddle shapes are illustrated in Figure 5. The left illustration corresponds to a broad twist saddle and the right to one with a narrow twist. The narrower the twist, the more the saddle tends to be concave on either side of the pommel. The concavity of narrow twist saddle very nicely accommodates the greater mass of a rounded thigh muscle and allows the rider to receive the proper amount of support from the thigh. A flat thigh muscle would not provide the rider of saddle Figure 5-right with any measurable amount of support until several inches down from either side of the pommel. This would result in such a rider bearing too much weight on the pubic crest and would result in much discomfort. The broader twist illustrated in Figure 5-left would support the flat inner thigh very nicely and would correctly and comfortably distribute the rider's weight.

    While men tend to have the flatter inner thigh muscles associated with the need for a broader twist, because of the narrower pelvis, there is usually less distance between the shafts of the femur and thus few men will be comfortable riding a really broad twist saddle but will tend to prefer something with a more moderate twist.

    For the TWISTED TREE explanation we will have to wait for galadriel though... ;)

    pics are on this site
    Last edited: May 6, 2004
  6. Tootsie4U

    Tootsie4U New Member

    wow, thanks Karin. :)

    Its so neat how horse anatomy and human anatomy are so important when making a saddle, it almost seems that a custom saddle is the way to go. Like filling a mold.

    I guess thats another reason why tree-less saddles are becoming more and more popular...
  7. galadriel

    galadriel New Member

    Twists and Twisted trees

    A saddle with a "wide tree" *should* have a wide gullet from the front to the back. But there's no guarantee. You just have to check the saddle and see how the panels are designed. The tree itself is only wide or narrow at the front, the distance from point to point:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The twist of the saddle is literally the way that the tree conforms to the horse's back. It must present a flat surface to the horse's back all along the tree; at pommel, the points lie parallel to the horse's back, which is a pretty steep angle. At the cantle, the horse's back is much more broad, and the tree must be much more flat to remain parallel to the back.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    So that, literally, is the twist: the way the flat part of the tree twists to stay flat against the horse's back.

    The narrowness or wideness of the saddle at the waist (where the twist is most drastic) is usually referred to as "wide twist" or "narrow twist." That can also be deceptive in advertising, by the way; a tree that says is is "wide" may be talking about the tree itself, OR it may be talking about the twist.

    A "twisted tree," on the other hand, is a warping of the tree such that it is no longer symmetrical. The warped tree creates pressure points on a diagonal:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The point will dig in on one side, and the tree will dig in at the cantle on the other side.

    A minor twist in a tree can be reparable, but a major twist may not be. A crack in the tree is not reparable.
  8. galadriel

    galadriel New Member

    I just want to mention that I appreciate all the questions; you're helping me out a lot as I am working on articles for my site :) As I come up with answers to post here, I am making images which I will be using, and coming up with the majority of the text I will use, also. First completed article so far:

    I think I've got 3 more I can write out of this thread :)
  9. Remmy

    Remmy Administrator

    Hi folks, just thought this might be an appropriate and 'hopefully' interesting article to read.Saddle Construction

    Just goes to show, you never can trust a book by it's cover! ;)
  10. KarinUS

    KarinUS Active Member

    We had our fit evaluation!

    Well, the saddle fitter came. I am glad I did it. It was well worth the 35 bucks- although we ended up not adjusting anything on the saddle.

    you were correct. Even US saddle fitters do sell saddles. This one is a distributor for County saddles. He was very professional about it though and didn't push his product, etc. Matter of fact he only mentioned it after I asked him how he got into saddle fitting. he said that County asked him to get certified as a saddle fitter kind of as a requirement to sell their saddles.

    I learned more about trees and saddle parts. It was good.
    What did he have to say about my saddle?
    Well. As I knew from buying it at a discount as a close out, my saddle is an older style. However he did say that he finds that style of Courbette much superior to the ones with the foam panels. He also said that when my saddle came out it was as good as saddle could be at that time.
    The other thing I already knew was that the combination of the saddles balance and my horses conformation slightly tipped the saddle forward. It makes it harder to keep my alignment correct but I have learned to manage.

    The good part were that the tree was the perfect size for DJ and that it fit really well from his 'side'. That was my main concern anyway.

    We discussed the option of having the fitter add some padding on the front panels but he felt due to the shape of the panels he couldn't add enough to make a significant difference.
    To level it out he would have to add in front and take away in the back and he didn't want to do that because he felt DJ's back needed the padding in the back.

    Until now we have been using a front riser pad. The fitter said he generally didn't like the pads but my case seems to be one of those where the riser pad is the best solution. It was nice that he didn't try to sell my a flocking, etc. but was rather honest on what could be accomplished.

    So we didn't get any adjustments but I got some peace of mind and came away a little bit more knowledgable.
    I am glad I had the only saddle fitter in the state of Texas take a peek at my horse and saddle.

    Right now I don't have the extra $3000 for a County saddle so a compromise has to be made. I am happy that in this case none of DJ's comfort had to be compromised on but rather only my own.
    Last edited: May 9, 2004
  11. galadriel

    galadriel New Member

    Good to hear it! Sounds like a very successful fit.

    Interesting that he's the only one in Texas. It seems to me that our instructor told us that County was made by someone who's out in Texas...I could be confusing them with someone else though.
  12. KarinUS

    KarinUS Active Member

    Yeah. Sort of sucessful. Of course I would have been happier, if I could have just paid some money and he would have been able to make the saddle just perfect for both of us. But as long as the horsey is okay, I am okay.

    I think it's entirely possible that County is made in Texas. Matter of fact he may not even be the only seller. When I said the only one in Texas I was just referring to the saddle fitter certification. He gave me the impression that County Saddlery really wanted him to have the certification but I don't know if it's a requirement.

    UPDATE: I looked it up and County Saddlery is located at 2698 Jennings Chapel Road, Woodbine, MD 21797.
  13. galadriel

    galadriel New Member

    I got the impression that both Albion and County really want their representatives to be qualified for saddle fitting, too.

    Ah, the saddle fitting program you mentioned earlier must be the one that County does, if County itself is based out of Woodbine. I fear that my instructor had a very low opinion of their program...(shrug) I've already mentioned where I thought it seemed to be lacking. Though I also read the article about it and found a couple of things mentioned in the article rather alarming (as in, never-do-this kind of solutions).

    Since you mentioned that you're not entirely thrilled--You know, it may in fact be possible to alter your flocking to make the seat of your saddle more centered--it's amazing what a minor change in flocking will do, without changing the way it feels "padded." And changing the flocking is infinitely better than using a pad. With flocking changes, you present the horse's back with a smooth bearing surface. When you shift the way the saddle itself sits, however, you may end up with a big problem at the other side--rough drawing, somewhat exaggerated, but:
    Essentially when you're not using the saddle's own panels as the whole bearing surface, there's a possibiliy of creating bridging and/or a pressure point at the other side of the saddle. The panels are designed to "flare" at the edges and so keep from having the edges dig onto the horse's back--when you use a pad that changes the way the saddle sits on the horse, the flare may not be adequate.
  14. KarinUS

    KarinUS Active Member

    I see what you mean! Great illustration.
    The riser pad is in fact not a single pad in front but rather a thin pad that goes along the whole panel surface and thickens in front so essentially it is flared as well rather than just a bump beneath the other panels. I don't think bridging is much of a problem with that design.

    As far as adjusting the flocking goes the panels would have had to have some flocking removed from the back and some flocking added to the front to level the saddle sufficiently. The fitter felt removing padding from the back would change the saddle in a way that would make it less comfortable for DJ and just adding flocking to the front would not improve things sufficiently because the panels weren't wide enough to add enough. So while he generally hates using pads to improve saddle fit he thought that my case might be one of those occasions were the front riser pad I have is actually the best solution.

    I guess saddle fitting happens to be just like everything else related to horses: everybody thinks their way is the best... ;) It probably gets even worse when money is involved (selling their saddles, having you come back for more $1000 training courses, etc.)
    So in the end you just got to get all the information you can and make the best sense of it. :)
  15. galadriel

    galadriel New Member

    It does sound like your current solution works well enough :)

    I think if you saw it in action, you'd be surprised at how easily you can *shift* flocking, while keeping the shape and bounce of the panels, and without changing the thickness of the padding. A very minor change can make a huge difference. Granted, I'm not there :) and I'm not looking at your saddle or your horse. But I've participated in a few very interesting flocking adjustments recently. All horses are individuals, you know?
  16. KarinUS

    KarinUS Active Member

    Yes, I know :)
  17. TMD

    TMD New Member

    I am so glad I found this forum!!

    Galadriel, Ros, and everyone thanks so much for all your insight to one of the most common oversights that plagues most horse owners.

    I have a barefoot (HAVE to mention that) 6 yo Tennessee Walker gelding that I've owned now for two years. He has been trained in gaited horse dressage and is now being worked at the trot to compete. My trainer encouraged me to buy a Wintec Dressage Pro saddle as she said they were great quality for their price. It was already my third saddle as I started out with a western saddle that was an AWEFUL fit and then a Collegiate All Purpose adjustible gullet saddle that I could never seem to get to fit right.

    I am having such a tough time finding a good fit for this horse. I just recently decided to have a professional come out trained by the MSA to do an analysis. I noticed nothing was mentioned about CAIR panels...are they THAT bad? I always feel lopsided on my horse and he gets a bump on his spine almost every time I ride.

    The more research I do the more horrible I feel. Does anyone know of a good site that rates saddles and what is a good buy and what isn't...that would be helpful because some places are just trying to sell the saddle. I've already been to and it's helpful, but I'm learning most horse owners, like myself, aren't sure if they've got a good fit or not...
  18. ros

    ros New Member

    Gosh - long time since I've posted on NR.

    I've now got two Heather Moffett Fhoenix part-treed saddles and I wouldn't go back to treed for anything. Have had them since they came out and Merly loves them. My friend on the yard I'm currently at bought a Barefoot London for her Welsh Cob and it's also working very well. For me, a well made treeless (or part-treed) saddle does solve the fitting issues and suits my horse.
  19. Lora

    Lora Banned

    I too am dismayed at state of saddles..

    Over a year ago, I had a county competitor that was so wide, it sat on my horse's withers. (he doesn't have high withers at all) (It was a medium tree) and like you said, in the back came to near a point. My horse because so distressed it bacame obvious back pain and sold it for a huge loss. (good luck getting one around here now though..LOL)

    I now have an albion that has been recently reflocked and fitted for charlie but I'm wondering if he's not having back pain because he's just became so crabby. This could also be excessive energy but still going to get the vet to have a look.

    I love this thread, it's so informative! Keep posting and love your pics and diagrams!

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