Fitting a saddle to the asymmetrical horse


Zelda's back
Zelda is more developed on her right side, specifically her right shoulder. This means her saddle slips to the right.

I knew there was something wrong. I was crooked. I had to keep stepping hard in my left stirrup to stay even. It was particularly noticeable jumping. I was beginning to feel like I couldn’t ride. Or at least that there was something wrong with her saddle (because I didn’t feel unbalanced on Freedom).

So I did what any “normal” person would do. I called my saddle fitter and bought another saddle. Actually, I bought two. I figured that one of the three should work out for her.

When my saddle fitter came and I described what I was feeling, we stood up on a mounting block and took a look at her back. It wasn’t the saddle. It wasn’t me. It was Zelda. She’s asymmetrical.

The Schleese had the right tree size and panel shape but it was overstuffed. Gary had to take a lot of the old wool out.
The Schleese had the right tree size and panel shape but it was overstuffed. Gary had to take a lot of the old wool out.

Zelda’s been a bit one sided since I got her. She is a “right handed” horse who is more balanced and comfortable tracking right. And I guess I haven’t been diligent enough

about working her more on her “off” side, especially during hunt season where it’s hard to keep track of how long she spends on each lead.

One of the “new to me” saddles that I bought looked like it was going to fit pretty well — it’s an older model

Some of that wool must've been in that saddle a long time! It was quite compressed. The saddle was probably made around 2003.
Some of that wool must’ve been in that saddle a long time! It was quite compressed. The saddle was probably made around 2003.

Schleese monoflap jumping saddle. It had been overstuffed so Gary removed a lot of the old wool. As you can see, some of what in there looked pretty compressed and nasty.

The saddle now fits Zelda well. We chose to pad the saddle, using a shimmed Mattes pad, to keep the saddle centered. The other choice

The Mattes pad has four pockets for shims. We added just one to the left front.
The Mattes pad has four pockets for shims. We added just one to the left front.

would be to flock the saddle up on the left, but that wouldn’t leave her the room to even out her shoulders.

Luckily I still have the Mattes pad on hand. It only needed one shim. It seems like a small thing, but it keeps the saddle from slipping. It’s great to finally feel even again!

Schleese
Here’s the Schleese after my hunt last weekend. I forgot to take a picture when it was clean, so this is a post-hunt pic. I was very pleased by how comfy it was on our two hour ride.
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2 thoughts on “Fitting a saddle to the asymmetrical horse

    1. Liz Goldsmith

      Hi Tammy,

      Great question! Horses, like people, tend to be more comfortable going in one direction (left handed vs. right handed). It’s not a major problem, just a lopsidedness that can be fixed by working them more to build up their “off” side. During hunt season I know that I don’t make Zelda work evenly and she is far more likely to pick up her right lead canter while we’re out. You’ve given me a great idea for a post on how I intend to “fix” her.

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