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Real Life Rider: Fitting the Newly Off the Track Thoroughbred

Today we are going to look at Joe, who after some layup time, has been in work for less than 6  months.  He is still putting on weight, muscle, and topline.  His rider is about 5’ 7”.

While Joe has a lovely uphill build which will very much suit the jumper ring and a big shoulder, he has the typical prominent, narrow wither. So not only is his wither high, it is narrow under the tree points, with a depression behind the shoulder.  To fit Joe we will look for a saddle with additional thickness in the paneling in the front and under the tree points.  This will support the saddle on either side of the wither and ensure good spine and wither clearance.

The first saddle we tried was an 17” Antares Evolution with a 2N flap and medium thickness paneling. The Evolution is designed with a cut-back tree which is predominately fits horses with big shoulders, but also large withers. It was still a touch wide but fit nicely with a half pad, and Joe was moved freely and happily.  However, this saddle is not working for our 5’ 7” rider.  Her knee is almost over the standard N flap and the flap in general is simple not big enough.  She will struggle to maintain her position in this saddle and hinder her horses way of going in the long run (Photo 1).

The next saddle we tried was a 17” CWD SE03 with a 2C flap (forward).  This saddle has pro panels - standard paneling with no specialization, a good choice for riders who ride multiple horses, lease horses, or who have young and growing horses.  I liked this saddle more for our rider but it didn’t fit Joe at all. It was simple too wide in front and without paneling to support the saddle in either side of the wither, the saddle tipped forward, pressing on his wither and lifting behind, once it was girthed up with weight (Photo 2).  When we look at the saddle from behind, we can see the panels are lifting off the back and not making contact (Photo 3).


For our rider in this particular CWD, she looks like she is too far in the front of the tack because the center of balance of the saddle is too forward. While the flap is much better, in a perfect world I’d like the forwardness to be more in front of her knee and less in front of her thigh (Photo 4).

On this particular day we did not find a winner for our horse and rider.  However, we did end up finding a Antares in the barn with some specialized paneling (build up under the tree points where the dip behind the shoulder occurs) that fit Joe and his rider beautifully!  The panels look a lot like this saddle in Photos 5 and 6. Notice how the saddle is much narrower under the tree points than it is dot to dot, or in the very front of the panels.




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