Why my saddle with the System X? Because it will move and flex with the movement of the horse.
Experts tell us that approximately 80 to 90% – perhaps even more – of all horses have back problems.
Unbalanced riders cause some of the problems, but the overwhelming majority of the issues are directly due to ill-fitting saddles.
Some riders may see this figure and say it’s too high. This is likely because many riders are completely oblivious to the issues their horses are suffering from.
By nature horses put up with a great deal from us humans, ill fitting tack is only one of those things that they endure because of us.
Determining Saddle Pressure
This is still often equated with the appearance of white hair, swelling, edema and dry spots.
By the time these symptoms appear, saddle pressure limits may have already been exceeded. The damage done.
In reality, saddle pressure begins much earlier. To recognize it the rider must observe the horse and judge its actions and reactions, honestly.
Palpating the horse’s body will give the best chance of finding and localizing problems.
This procedure of physical palpation is far more advantageous than anything on the market. It is more accurate and economical than any computer measurement.
Easy too, it is hands on, right now, right there with your horse.
To be most effective the palpation must be done and noted both before and after the horse is ridden.
Then again a couple days later after hard riding, because we all have likely experienced that ‘second day after’ soreness. Horses are no different.
Over the years riders have compensated for the issues they have found with all forms of pads and shims among the most popular of solutions.
This caused many horse owners to spend hundreds of dollars on these ‘helpers’ which do not actually solve the issue of pressure points.
Whereas with the System X, the pressure will be redistributed along the entire surface of the panel that is in contact with the horse.
Clearly those that are researching and purchasing these ‘helpers’ are concerned. Showing their wish to do better by their partner.
Although to eventually find a real solution, one must first deal with the root of the problem.
How do horses move?
I’ll begin with purely theoretical considerations about the effects of an inflexible object, like a saddle on a horse’s very agile back.
How can we expect a stiff object such as a saddle able to fit a free moving horse’s back?
As your horse stands, with its head up he has a slightly bent back, which a rigid saddle may bridge, leaving a gap in the center of the back, putting pressure on the four corners of the saddle.
When your horse turns, one side becomes shorter and the other longer. A conventional saddle cannot adapt to this movement. This results in increased pressure at certain points.
A horse with its head lowered has a relatively straight spine. Same with a horse that moves down-hill. More pressure is placed on the front edges of a conventional saddle.
The Conventional Saddle
Conventional saddles will always produce certain pressure points at some point in time, depending on the basic shape of the saddletree. This is a fact.
Allow me to share with you a few photos of some horses. You can see how different their withers are, how wide their shoulders are, how dippy their backs are, how long/short their backs are, how fast the croup rises up.
As you look at the following photos, you can see that not just any saddle will work to give the horse complete freedom of movement.
You can ONLY achieve this with a System X Panel.
For those of you that have used or worn a metal frame backpack, filled it up with stuff and then carried it around while running jumping and climbing up hills.
How comfortable would that really be?
Imagine if that pack was a lil too small or too big for you and causing rubbing, pressure points and sometimes even injury. Because of the way it is carrying weight or applying pressure.
That is what wearing an ill fitting saddle is like for a horse.
In a pack you’re carrying dead weight which can be better than an unbalanced rider. Riding in an ill-fitting saddle, bouncing around will only make all those pressure points that much more severe.
You can check your present saddle by putting it on your horse (without any extra pads to hide a true fit) and slipping your hands right under the supporting surface (for example, on the front, rear and center).
Then check it with someone sitting in the saddle.
You will probably pinch your fingers and it will be uncomfortable. The situation for your horse is exactly the same as for your fingers!
What you feel when you slide your hand under the saddle is what your horse feels the entire ride. Except that pressure moves around as the rider moves with the gaits.
This should make it clear to anyone that has performed this test with their own saddle. That something as inflexible as a saddle can never really work together with something very flexible like a horse’s back.
Granted this is only the movement problem. Problems actually begin much earlier.
They begin with the fact that horse backs come in an infinite number of shapes, with different shoulders, different withers, different muscle structure, etc.
This is why the saddle industry has produced so many different saddle tree patterns (about 8-15), nearly all ready-made sizes. Can these ready-made tree sizes really fit your horse?
Take a look at how many different horse types you can see in the pastures, regardless of whether they are all the same breed or not.
Can you really believe a saddle or saddle tree manufacturer could provide for all that variation? I explore the answer to that question in Are there Options?
Photo courtesy of Carlee Strack