It must be fair to say that the Equine Chiropractor can make no major, long-lasting contributions to the horse without a proper fitting saddle.
I would like to take this statement one step further and say that without a proper fitting saddle pad, the proper fitting saddle is of no use to the horse. I was taught by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) that it is imperative that the back of the saddle does not rock from side to side when it is fitted on the horse. (This is without the girth tightened up and without a saddle pad on). In other words, the saddle must stick to the horse’s body when the examiner rocks it from side to side.
The saddle pad I am referring to as a cause of problems in the horses muscular and skeletal system is the rounded (or shaped) saddle pads. When you place these saddle pads on the horses back, it makes a slight fold in the material at the base of its semi-circular shape. This fold is enough to lift the saddle ever so slightly, resulting in the back of the saddle rocking from side to side. With a square saddle pad, this does not occur.
Please check this yourself and confirm that the back of the saddle does does not rock from side to side when pushed at the side of the cantle.
What needs to happen, is that the saddle pad cut must be in reverse: the fold that was always at the back of the pad must be in front under the pommel, and the flatness of the material that was in the front of the pad must be at the back. In other words, must be an upward slant in the front third of the pad, to accommodate the sloped withers.
The exception to the rule is sheepskin saddle pads. These shaped ones fit the horse nicely, regardless of the top contour. The artificial sheepskin is a disaster, and should be never used.
I see expense beautiful fitting saddles all the time that are made null and void by ill fitting saddle pads.
P.S. An update to the above letter is that there are first class shaped saddle pads on the market that fits the contour of the horses back beautifully.
In the initial letter, it was mentioned that the fold in the base of the saddle pad affects the saddle fit. What must be added is that in these ill fitting pads there is no firm support in the overall shape of the pad, which must be the main contributing factor to their defect.
This lack of support was noted when one of these pads was not washed for several weeks. The sweat and dirt in the pad made it rigid and less flexible, thereby complementing the proper fitting saddle.
(Dirty pads are not recommended – rather get one that fits properly)
Some clues that the saddle may be causing problems without having the tack and rider present:
Clues while under saddle, with or without rider:
Common sense about saddles:
Basic steps to fitting the saddle: