Category Archives: Horse Tack

Western Saddle Fitting with David Royal!

Western Saddle Fitting

Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supply was lucky enough to have David Royal come to our location and provide a seminar on Western Saddle Fitting! We all know how hard it can be to know if your equipment is properly fitting your horse.

David Royal is a professional saddle fitter from Morresville, North Carolina. David has been fitting saddles for over 25 years across the country and has extensive knowledge fitting problem horses. He has been a saddle expert with Circle Y, Reinsman, & Tucker Saddles for 17 years. David has competed in cutting, team roping and mounted shooting and has held board positions with several equestrian associations over the years.

The video listed below really allows any equestrian to discern if their saddle is fitting properly or not. It is important to make sure your saddle fits appropriately to avoid muscle damage, soreness, muscle atrophy, and prevent pain. For western saddles, it’s vital to know if you horse is a semi quarter horse bar or a full quarter horse bar. It is equally important to take into consideration the slope of the withers or absence of withers as you don’t want create pressure sores or slide around on the horse’s back once you’re in the saddle. Additionally, you will need to be aware if your saddle is bridging and causing back soreness to your horse. This is all important to help determine if your saddle fits appropriately or not.

There are options to help your saddle fit better if it is not already a perfect fit. You can explore using shims or corrective pads that can help relieve pressure or fill in the gaps where your horse needs it.

Riser Pad for Western Saddle

Riser Pad

This is a wither riser pad that is helpful for a high withered horse that tends to rub or useful to help fill in gaps by the shoulders.

T3 Matrix Western Saddle Pad Shims

T3 Matrix Shims

These are T3 Matrix Shims for the Toklat T3 Shimmable western saddle pads. They come in a set of 12 and are to be used for the front, middle, and/or back of the saddle pad to help saddles fit better if they are gaps between your horse’s back and the saddle.

T3 Matrix Extreme Pro Impact Performance Western Saddle Pad

T3 Matrix Extreme Pro

This is an example of a Toklat T3 Shimmable western saddle pad that you can use to correct your saddle fit.

Reinsman Shoulder Fill Correction Western Saddle Pad

Reinsman Shoulder Fill

Reinsman also makes a corrective pad for shoulder correction for high withered horses to help fill in the hollows behind the shoulder blade. This will provide more comfort and a better fit to your horse.

Thinline Sheepskin Correction Western Saddle Pad

ThinLine Correction Pad

Thinline  also has a sheepskin correction pad that you can add shims to correct the fit of your saddle on your horse. This is a nice durable and comfortable pad for your horses back even without the shims, but being able to customize to provide comfort to your horse is priceless!

There are so many options to consider when searching for corrective pads that it can be overwhelming. If you have questions or need assistance we are here to help! It is always advisable to have a qualified saddle-fitter come out to assess your horse and saddle in and out of the tack!

Practical Bitting Seminar

Practical Bitting Seminar

horse bits

Wondering about your choice of bits for your horse or is bitting a mystery to you?

Does your horse have telltale signs it might be the wrong choice?

Do you know how to determine the correct bit size for your horse?

Have you run out of friend’s bits to try?

We can help with all of this & more!

Join bitting experts Vivian Schmidt & Lisa Gorretta at our Herm Sprenger practical bitting seminar on Sunday April 23rd at Sweetwater Equestrian Center – 6490 Peck Rd. Ravenna, OH 44266. This seminar is FREE! Schedule a time to bring your horse to discuss issues & find the correct fit!

Time slots for horses available from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

Space is limited – call to reserve your spot today! 1-800-321-2142

No horse is necessary to attend the seminar – attendees are welcomed & encouraged!

You can also attend Vivian’s seminar during the Anniversary Sale Event at Big Dee’s on Saturday April 22nd at 1:00 pm!


Practical Bitting Seminar

Expanding Horizons: Jessica R. for Team Big Dee’s

Up & Over Double Points Hunter show at Buckeye Horse Park, June 20th & 21st, 201510246688_10205730420957612_6759050269869428867_n

When someone asks what discipline I best associate myself with, my first answer would be as an eventer. My answer as to what comes in 2nd is fast becoming the hunters. My first true and lasting experience with hunters was just last year when Paladin was 4. After his first two mini-trials, with less than ideal dressage scores, I wanted to give him some time to mature mentally. He really enjoyed the jumping phases and I decided that I wanted to find more opportunities to build his confidence over fences than just a stadium round here and there at the mini trials. I firmly believe that building a safe and reliable horse over fences, takes consistent steps to build confidence and trust through the lower heights.  I figured that showing in the hunters would allow both of us to gain experience together and expand our horizons. I found the added difficulty of attempting to present a horse with a relaxed and steady way of going particularly challenging. Trying to ride like I know what I am doing is even more so, especially since historically my only goal in jumping was what I call the 3 S’s ((Stay on (rider), Stay up (rails) and Stay Sane (horse)). Last year we enjoyed showing in the cross-rails and 18” divisions, the lower heights really allowed us to get a feel for the ring and to better understand proper striding.

The Up & Over Hunter Jumper Association is an ideal fit for us. With shows scheduled around northeast ohio nearly every weekend of the summer, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and show at any height.  Even though I still would not consider myself a “hunter”, I thoroughly enjoy the relaxed pace of the shows, the challenge of memorizing courses (without the aid of numbered fences) and meeting new friends. My attempts to ride “like a hunter” are generally futile Continue reading Expanding Horizons: Jessica R. for Team Big Dee’s

Horse Saddles: What the Fit is Telling You

March is an excellent time to take a look at the fit of your horse saddles with a critical eye. With our Northern Ohio winters, it is very typical to see changes in weight and fitness in our equine athletes and this can have a dramatic affect on the fit of this very important piece of training equipment.

Some tell tale signs that you might have an issue include changes in your horse’s attitude about grooming or tacking:

  • Is your normally docile horse getting a little gnarly when you are grooming – especially along the spine or girth area?
  • Do you see friction rubs or bare patches where the saddle panels make contact?
  • Does this grouchy behavior continue under saddle…pinned ears especially in upward transitions, “cold back” or a refusal to stand at the mounting block?
  • Are you experiencing difficulty picking up the canter or with lead changes?
  • Does your instructor more frequently mention that you are sitting off to one side or do you feel that your balance is “a bit off”?
  • Is your normally symmetrical lateral work now more difficult in one direction over the other?

Another typical cause of saddle fitting issues is seasonal changes in weight.  People tend to gain a pound or three over the winter, but your horse can have swings either up or down, or changes in muscle tone, especially over the back. Have you noticed that you have gone up or down a hole or two when girthing your saddle? Have you noticed that the surcingles on the winter blanket have required adjustment since the start of the season?

Once you have determined that you have an issue, how can you determine what and how serious the issue might be?  The following few easy steps will provide a wealth of information…

1. Check your horse’s weight with a weight tape or centimeter tape.  Place the tape around the heart girth and snug up the tape gently. If you can get into a habit of doing this a couple of times a year, note that it is most important to be consistent in tape placement and degree of snugness, as you are really watching for a change in the number more than the actual weight or centimeter reading.

Saddle Fit | Big Dee's Horse Tack

2. Examine the surface bearing area of the saddle panels on your horse’s back. Are there any sub-surface swellings, particularly along the sides of the withers?

 

3. Are there rubs on the withers or friction hair rubs on the back? Is your horse sensitive to palpation with moderate pressure of your finger tip (be careful if you have long finger nails as your horse may give you “false positive” reactions).

Horse Friction Hairs | Big Dee's Horse Tack

This is a classic example of a friction rub caused by a saddle that is out of balance – check the tree width and condition of the panels if flocked. If the rub mark looks suspiciously like the binding edge of your saddle pad, possible culprits are that your pad is too small and the end of the saddle panels sit over the outside edge of the pad; your laundry detergent or washing frequency isn’t keeping up with the increased demands of winter skin conditions ; your horse’s coat is dry and in need of a good coat conditioning spray at the end of a really good grooming.

4. Pull out your last set of pictures to compare the view from the side and over the back (to see muscling and symmetry of the shoulder area). If you have attended one of our talks on saddle fitting, you know already the importance I place on these shots taken periodically throughout your horse’s career or certainly when you are starting the process of saddle shopping.

Horse Muscle | Big Dee's Horse Tack  Horse Muscle Symmetry

Of course if you have a saddle with a changeable gullet, it is a good idea to also look at the gauge and snap a photo that you can date and keep in your horse health file.

Gullet Guage | Big Dee's Horse Tack

If your saddle is flocked, examine the panels to check for asymmetry in the panel shape, softness or lumps and bumps within the flocking material itself. The panels should be symmetrical (I prefer to address asymmetry that your horse may suffer with therapeutic pads rather than adjusting the actual panels). When the saddle (without pads) is placed on the horse’s back, you should feel consistent contact as you run your hand along the panel from the pommel to the cantle. Bridging (absence of contact) or tight spots are indications that your saddle fitter is due for a visit.

This is a good time to examine the condition of stitching and your billets as well!

Western Saddle Stitching | Western Tack

Taking a small amount of time to look over your saddle fit now can pay off big in preventing both lost training time and potential bills later to bring your horse back into good training condition when the weather finally breaks. As always, I recommend you maintain and encourage open communication with all members of your horse’s health care team: Vet, Nutritionist, Farrier, Physio, Dentist, Trainer and Saddle Fitter in order nip possible problems in the bud and keep your horse ready for whatever is your riding pleasure!

Remember: Think Spring!