True Confessions of a Bad Horse Owner

ETA: My trainer looked at Connor and my saddle today and does not believe that that is a saddle sore.  She poked and prodded him and he was not sore at all on either side.  I am still nervous and will probably be contacting the County rep to come look at it when she gets a chance, but I feel slightly better than I did when I wrote this!

I have a couple of confessions to make.  First, I know you're all probably tired of my "As the Clipping World Turns" "General Clipping" and "One Clip to Live" soap operas, but I'm going to be full-clipping Connor for real this weekend after this happened during my Thursday night lesson:



Rivulets of foam on the backs of his legs...seriously.


Soaked.

I was dumbfounded, since he never got this sweaty with this clip last winter, and dashed off a quick text to Nick telling him to hold dinner late.  My trainer and I talked about the work getting harder this year, and she said, "You have the blankets you need.  If he was my horse, I'd take the rest off.  Plus with all those dapples hidden under there, he'd look really cute..."

Second...this is really hard to write, but last time I was there Thursday I realized that the hairless "bite mark" he came in with last weekend is probably a pressure sore from the saddle.  Only on one side.  It makes me a little sick to write that, honestly, after being lectured for four years in college on saddle fit and how acquired leuocodermas are a badge of shame for horse owners.  I don't know if this will turn into one, but it might.

I scratched at the mark a bit and a quarter-sized area of hair fell out.

It's further forward than I usually place that saddle on Connor, and it's on the side that he naturally likes to throw his weight onto that shoulder, something Thursday's lesson worked extensively on correcting.  I'm wondering if I mistakenly put the saddle too far forward and did a lot on the right rein the day before I found it.  He's moving really well in it the saddle when its placed properly, and I have the video from my lesson the other night to prove it.

One way or another, I can't trust the fit of that saddle after finding it, and am so frustrated by this area's lack of brand-agnostic professional saddle fitters.  My choices are a (well-liked and well-respected by many, including many of you) County rep that won't look at my non-County jump saddle and has always tried first to upsell me to something brand new when I email her about coming to reflock the Dressage saddle I already own, or nothing.

I am sick to my stomach and feel like the worst horse owner ever.  This horse is so hard to fit, and I've tried so hard to fit him, and still something like this happens.  If you're keeping score, in the past eighteen months, we've been through:

- Beval Devon 2000, 16.5" medium tree, close contact
- Stackhouse, 16.5" medium-wide tree, close contact
- 1994 County Competitor, 16.5" short flap medium-wide tree, Dressage
- Toulouse Annice, 16.5" wide tree, close contact (haven't ridden in it since August)
- 2002 County Competitor, 17" wide tree, Dressage

Plan of attack is: stop riding in my Thinline Saddlefitter half pad, evaluate fit on his bare back today, ask trainer for help, start a bareback Dressage league...

20 comments:

  1. Don't feel bad! You've noticed it quickly and are going to take action. Don't beat yourself up too badly over it. My girl is a tough fit too- I think partly because these cobs keep growing for so long and put on muscle so easily when in work- their shape changes so rapidly. I think I've also mentioned before Ginger has about a 1" wide chunk of white mane now from a blanket rub when she managed to tangle herself in it at some point in the night last xmas. It's really punk looking and makes me look like worst owner ever, so I'm afraid the title remains here :)
    I ride Ginger in an XW Stubben juventus if you're looking for things to try out and your saddle doesnt just need a minor tweak. Bonus that the saddle is for short small people too :)

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    1. Thanks, I think you're right. They are a strange shape and that strange shape seems to never stop changing. I am going to look for a used Juventus, I think an XW tree is where we are headed. Thanks for the tip!

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  2. Don't feel too bad, I'm pretty sure that every horse owner has gone through this, and you've noticed it really quickly!! Hopefully you can get your saddle sorted out soon! :)

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    1. Thanks! I am beginning to think it was just a bite mark, we'll see.

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  3. My Fiancee has a barrell shaped horse and she goes very well in a DUETT. The saddles aren't just wide they are U shaped trees instead of V shaped trees. The saddle now stays on even without tight girths and breastplates because it actually fits her back. The company was very nice to work with and we were lucky enough to find a local saddle fitter to come out and check the fit.
    http://duettsaddles.com/category/dressage/

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    1. I've heard so many good things about Duetts, I'm just so hesitant to move forward without a saddle fitter.

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  4. I totally know how you feel. I had some saddle fitting issues with my old mare Roxy, and I felt horrible once I figured it out! You caught on much more quickly than I did.

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    1. I don't blame anyone for missing it, it's the hardest thing to DIY as a horse owner. A good saddle fitter is worth just as much as a good farrier, IMO.

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  5. Yes do not feel bad you found it right away. I will suggest the Ride Light Saddle pad even though I know its not cheap, but its helping me fit Ramone while he is developing topline (and well I'm not keeping him for the long term),

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    1. I'll have to look into that. The chair of the equine department at the College also recommended supracor for similar reasons.

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  6. Happy clipping :D
    If the strange wound is not hurting, I would say work away. And it looks like a bite mark to me?
    Also, I'm not sure if this is how it works for every horse, but after my friend & I did our big trek last year, her mare came up in saddle sores (riding 7 - 8 hours a day & changing shape during the course of the trek caused them) but they came up ten days after we had finished and broke off the surface of the skin a week after that. So it could be something that happened weeks ago and is healed now.
    Looking forward to the clip pictures.

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    1. Those are all really good points, and a good anecdote, thanks. I have another picture to share soon, after I clipped him this weekend it really did start to look like a bite mark. My trainer definitely thinks it's a bite mark, but it would have had to have occurred through his blanket. Maybe they were playing rough.

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  7. I personally hate county saddles. they irritate me,they are made to custom fit only certain body types. I love my witec , we've had a lot of good luck getting them to fit all the coby types. I have a Southern Stars dressage saddle that I LOVE that fits super kid really well. and i. bought it used. rhyme and Conner are def. sibblings they both sweat like pigs

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    1. Never heard of Southern Stars, I'll have to look at it. Thanks!

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  8. Ohhhhh, I feel your pain. Tristan has a white spot saddle sore on his withers that has developed over the past month. I did not notice it at first because he is so roany - and then when I thought it might be a sore, he did not react at all to pressing on it - and then when I investigated further, his dressage saddle fits perfectly. It was only after weeks of nagging worry that I finally realized that his back shape has changed such that the saddle pads slip down and press against his withers, creating the pressure point. So it can happen to anyone at any time, and the trick is pinpointing quickly and addressing it. I totally get that sick-to-your-stomach feeling, though!

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    1. Wow, that's awful! I'll have to check pads too. I've been bouncing around between a few different ones. Thanks!

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  9. Not surprised you may need xtra wide. With all the good work you are doing, he is developing those lifting muscles. Comrade wears the widest gullet Wintec makes, though with his weight loss I have to use a thicker pad. Next size down is just a bit too small. Rosemary wears the second largest gullet. After having a hard time fitting horses we have gone the adjustable gullet route. So glad they are making leather saddles now with the system. Now if only I could afford it. Hope the fitting goes well. Agree with your trainer about the mark.

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    1. I still think he is a wide after looking at the Dressage saddle, but I definitely need to adjust the flocking. He still may end up in an XW someday for sure though. Such a hard breed to fit.

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  10. Checking out your blog after seeing a link to it on L's blog!

    I did the whole saddle fit saga, and actually just read a ton and watched a bunch of videos and got my Butet repaneled to fit (no wool there!). Afterwards Stampede was still having soreness and I managed to get the information on a saddle fitter from my vet (she rides dressage). I got validation that I had fit my horse properly, plus a lesson to make sure my horse is muscled evenly. Stampede now goes with a shim on the left side and is a happier boy.
    Anyways, sometimes you are left on your own to figure things out. Your gut will usually tell you if your horse is uncomfortable under saddle anyways. To me it also kind of looks like a bite. If you were anywhere near me I would give you the info on the lady I know, but I'm not sure where you are! I'm SE Michigan.

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    1. Nice to meet you! That's really interesting about only needing the shim on one side. I had a Beval that I loved that I was forced to give up after Connor started growing up and developing a back.

      Are you going to tell me to contact Lynda at Classic Saddlery? ;-) She is the one that helped me buy my current jump saddle after looking at photos of Connor. I wish she was closer, with all this trouble it seriously might be worth the trailer ride to go up there someday.

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