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I have been confused by your placement of the spine, but I think I got where your coming from. This picure may help clarify for others. Still not sure how you place the front of the backbone based on the outside of the horse, but I get the general idea.

Jennifer

Jennifer.

I found the point of hip and base of neck and connected them. I have put in a black line on your drawing to show you where the yellow line came from. To find the base of neck on your horse find the where the neck gets wider go down to where it narrows again and that will be the base of the neck.

I have also put in some colored areas on the drawing that represent the areas of streangth on the back. The blue area is where the spine has the most elements supporting it. The purple area has fewer and the red area has only one muscle to help stabalize the spine so it is the weakest part of the back. If you follow the currently popular line of thought in regard to saddle fit you will be sitting on the purple and red zone.

David Genadek

zones_for_fitting.jpg

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If you follow the currently popular line of thought in regard to saddle fit you will be sitting on the purple and red zone.

David Genadek

I'm confused- are you suggesting that this is incorrect and that we should be sitting more correctly in the blue/purple zone over the withers more?

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If you follow the currently popular line of thought in regard to saddle fit you will be sitting on the purple and red zone.

David Genadek

I'm confused- are you suggesting that this is incorrect and that we should be sitting more correctly in the blue/purple zone over the withers more?

I'm saying there are different ideas about how to ride a horse and those ideas produce different conclusions in regard to saddle fitting and all equipment design. Therefore it is contingent on the horse owner to be clear on what they want when they talk to a maker. As a saddle maker the two biggest questions I will try to decipher from a client are where they want to sit and how they want to sit. If their answers are outside of what I do then I will send them down the road.

It is a matter of perspective. From my perspective I would never consider using T14 as the basis for the center of the saddle, the rear limit of the seat yes. The problem this presents is that it makes the tree shape more critical

and complex and thus selling becomes more of an ordeal . Historically saddles have been further forward than what is happening today. I've attached a picture of two paintings that show riders being in a forward position interestingly one rider is Jineta and the other is Brida but both are in a forward position on the horse.

David Genadek

jineta_brida.jpg

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David:

Do you have a picture or an illustration of the tree you would use on this project?

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David:

Do you have a picture or an illustration of the tree you would use on this project?

I'm not sure just looking at a tree you can tell much but here is a tree I think would be close. This shape is pulled directly from the profiles of a real back.

David Genadek

treebackview.jpg

tree_front_view.jpg

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post-999-1210367170_thumb.jpg

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Jennifer,

To get this back on track, you still have to fit bars to the back of your mare. That is the first order of business. Or the first order of business after she gets into shape whichever way you approach it. I'm with Jim, I'd get her in shape and then approach it. I think we all agree that she is built a little downhill. Picture angles and such can make that look one way or the other, but she probably won't shrink much in hind leg length, and might gain a little in front legs, will fill in and tighten up, but at four those growth plates are all but closed. You have what you have, and the lines down her side wherever you place them are going to be downhill. That is part of her, and a ton (no pun intended) of horses are that way. I've got one, and so have most people who have been around. People ride a lot of them and do just fine. The most square inches of bar on her with the least bridging and no edges digging in will fit her the best. That is the simple answer. The harder answer is - that is done with bar shape, spread, and angles. That has to be determined. What maker does to the topside is somewhat dependent on the bottom. Not always. but mostly.

David,

I have been following a lot of what you have written and on your website for at least a year and a half. Some I understand, and some I don't. I know you have some other ideas than many tree makers. I have seen the line drawings, but would be interested in seeing pictures of where your trees differ, and where you position them on the live horse. That would probably clear up a lot of the confusion. My seats generally have the same or more scoop in the side profile as the ones on your website, and really are not a lot different than many other handmakers. We may all be sitting pretty much in the same place? Maybe start a new topic to keep this one on track. I have to laugh on the painting. I am glad I wasn't a knight in 1500. If the live horse was bogged down that much in the back as in the painting, I am not sure my ride would have held up long enough to get to the battle, let alone pack me through it. I wonder how many of those mounted knights ended up in the infantry pretty early in the fight.

Bruce,

Here is where I differ, it took me a while to figure it out, I guess I couldn't beleave what I was hearing. So I have been doing a poll on several horse forums where I post these pictures and ask Where do you want to sit?

positions.jpg

A is where I always thought everyone was trying to get people to sit. B is where the industry is saying they are getting you to sit. C is where you will actually end up if you follow the current line of thinking of the industry. You just have to do the math. Here is a link to a quick study we did here.

So in this case we have a down hill horse which does put more wieght on the front legs and biomechanically puts the horse at a disadvantage to get collected. Here is a small film to show how the wieght distribution actually happens. If the horse is down hill it accentuates it even more. You can feel this by sitting in the positions above. You can actually see how this horse has changed it's posture to compensate for the different positions. In all the polling I did not a single person chose C as the position they wanted to sit in yet when they went out and paid attention to where they were they were in the C position.

So if Jennifer wants a saddle to fit this horse she needs to understand that the further forward she sits the more she will be helping this conformation. If she does the set the saddle behind the shoulders thing she will be working against her goals as a rider. In short order the horse will have pockets behind it's shoulders in additon to other back and neck pathologies that are now considered normal in the market place.

The paintings above are a wonderful illustration of both where to sit and how to sit. Both the riders are sitting in the same position but how they are sitting is different and you can see the effects on horses. You can see how stessed out the Brida horse is just because the rider is braced. So all this is directly related to Jennifers question becasue until she is aware of where and how she wants to sit she can not make a judgement about the information that she gets bombarded with. Weather a given concept is correct for her depends on how she answers those two fundamental questions. For the saddle maker these two questions define their saddlemaking practice. If you remember the Dusty Johnsons post on saddle fitting being a myth, he was correct for how he has defined his market. He was being honest and although my perspective differs from his I do respect his honesty. These differences help us define our own personal preferences.

David Genadek

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Hello David

You need to post pictures of this tree on a horses back so that everyone can understand your theory on placement and fit and please show the balance point of the seat at the same time. The pictures are very vague, You need to point out what is unique about it. You might cover the rigging too.

Kind Regards

Blake

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David, I think this brings the only clarity for me I've ever found in what you've been trying to tell us, the photos really help explain your way of thinking to me. This is what I see though I'm sure it will differ. Photo A is where you'd naturally ride bareback, photo B is where I see an English saddle sit, and photo C is where a western stock saddle sits. This is where I see your thought of ideal differing from mine. I wouldn't choose A as my choice to sit on a horse because it's putting all the weight he's carrying on the front end, the smoothest gaited horse will ride rough and have no choice but to learn to work on his front end, there goes any caliber of an actual stop and a horse couldn't rein very well when his front end is too heavy to get off his front feet and work on his butt. The result of riding a horse that far forward would prevent him from doing the job I need him for, if he stops on his front end and has to walk a circle to turn around he's rendered pretty much useless in a corrall sorting cows. Much of our country has been described as only having two places to ride up and down, and some of the country surrounding where I live is worse. As an example I had a customer in Idaho that runs fifteen hundred mother cows in country that supports them year round with no feeding hay just a lot of winter riding in the river breaks. They never put a horse in that country until he's five and they never left them in there past the age of nine or they'd stiffen up so bad in the front end they'd ruin them. Under conditions like these any extra abuse of a horses front end would be drastic.Position B would probably be the ideal best for the horse in the long term. I do think there would be some things I'd expect a horse to do that may not be possible because he's still carrying more weight up front than is normal to me and I'm assuming something would have to be different. I can see how someone just trail riding on pretty flat ground could ride like that all the time. I don't know if someone could maintain that position and do things that a western saddle was intended for, a forward position like that would make it difficult to stand up and rope a cow, when you stood up and leaned forward you'd be clear up over his front end in position A I guess, so far it would make it a little dangerous to be runnin' him through the brush. I'd think the weight that far forward would increase the chance he's going down. I've had ones head go between his front feet and out under his a@# at full tilt before so I'm not going to volunteer to do the study on how the laws of physics may apply to that scenario. I think the position C in the photo is a little exaggerated, that appears to me where you'd be if your knees were locked and you were really pushing against the cantle. But I'd agree that is roughly where most people sit in a western stock saddle. It may not be the ideal position for a horses structure to be carrying the weight from a veterinarians point of veiw, but a horse likely wasn't designed by nature and put on earth for the sole purpose of carrying a person. The C position seems to allow a horse to do things he can't with a person on his back anywhere else. A calf horse could never perform the athletic act he does with someone sitting up on top of his withers, a reining horse could never slide twenty feet and change directions with his front end being weighted to the ground, and a ranch horse couldn't safely navigate the brush, rocks and down timber he has to just to put in a days work. The position of the western saddle as it is has evolved out of nesscecity apparantly. In all fairness I'm sure a hunter -jumper couldn't perform well with a western saddle and someone sitting in Davids C position. The position they ride in has evolved to be the best for the task at hand also. Everything has it's place, and what's ideal under one circumstance isn't under another. I think maybe why you get misunderstood and frustratred with guys like me is that we come from different worlds.My impression (and it may be wrong) of back east where you are is that people mainly keep horses for sport or hobby, folks go to a barn to learn to ride, and most horses only job is the entertainment of their owner. My impression is probably inaccurate but that's the impression I've got, there are no cows to tend, no mountains, and most riders are confined to worked arenas. Riding a horse has never been a hobby you pick up like sking or instead of bowling to me it's just part of everyday life like driving, it's really not a decision you up and make one day like I think I'll learn to ride a horse. It's been a nescessaty for parts of life as long as I can remember. I "learned" to ride a horse because you sure couldn't follow my dad if you were afoot. It's not something I had to study to learn to do it's as natural to me as walking. I don't think a riding a horse is the same to me as it is to you. And some of what I'd want in a saddle you might not understand because it's not the same as what you'd do. I think your ideas will work in your world but I have seen folks with a lot of training about where to keep your feet and how to sit a horse come to mine and at the end of the day following a cowpuncher through the brush and rocks it seems to dissappear and they're sittin' like a cowpuncher because it's the only way that works where we're at.

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To add to JRedding's comments the stirrup leathers are hung just ahead of the low spot of the seat and they transfer a lot of the weight of the rider farther forward than what it appears in David's photo c bareback. If you ride on your ass with no weight on your stirrups your dead weight and will cripple you horse. Even when your heels are inline with your shoulders your stirrup leathers are still hung ahead of your pelvis so in no way is photo c an accurate representation of how one sits a horse. Greg

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David,

Looking at the tree pictures here. Do you have one that shows the rock of the bars? At least from the front, looks like a lot of rock. Is this how you get them forward and up over the withers more, by raising the fronts through rock? I can see how that could move the rider forward. If so, doesn't this remove some of the force at the front bar pads, but then concentrates it at the low point of the bow, theoretically where the rider is sitting? Then if someone were to use the horn for more than puling themself up, wouldn't this make the whole affair tip forward and bear down on the scapulas worse. If I am reading something into this that isn't there sorry, but more pictures and where you set these on the horse would help.

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The pictures are interesting especially B & C Where the horse is standing too far under itself exaggerating the hip. Picture A is just the opposite, The horse is well behind itself. The horse appears to have some issues other than where the rider is sitting.

David you need to clarify what you are saying and maybe give us some of the professional pictures that you use when you do your clinics and presentations. Its hard to grasp what you are trying to say or show everyone with the bits and pieces and antique art.

It might also help if you furnished us with your background as a Horseman.

I think everyone here is trying to understand if you can be a little more clear.

Kind Regards

Blake

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Greg has a very good point in that the stirrups carry a decent percentage of weight from the ball of the rider's foot, ahead of the heel/hip/shoulder line that runs through the rider's "contact area". (Is that a politically correct enough term for butt?) In any case, it is important to remember that the weight of the rider is distributed over the entire surface of the bar that is in contact with the horse. This is the purpose of having a tree in a saddle in the first place. It is different than riding bareback where the weight is concentrated right under the rider.

Rod

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Once again I'm on the road, (D.C., Va., and Fl.) and missed the first parts of this discussion but wanted to add what I've found. "I wouldn't choose A as my choice to sit on a horse because it's putting all the weight he's carrying on the front end, the smoothest gaited horse will ride rough and have no choice but to learn to work on his front end, there goes any caliber of an actual stop and a horse couldn't rein very well when his front end is too heavy to get off his front feet and work on his butt. The result of riding a horse that far forward would prevent him from doing the job I need him for, if he stops on his front end and has to walk a circle to turn around he's rendered pretty much useless in a corrall sorting cows." -JRRedding. Not meaning to offend anyone so I'll just say that from what I've learned that is the opposite of what history teaches. The Spanish were the "Supreme" mounted warriors because they could rein their horses and get them to work off their hind ends BETTER than anyone else at the time and this is due in large part to where they sat. The Native Americans out rode the cavalry and you can still see spectacular bareback riding including sliding stops and spins at Crow Fair and the big endurance race the Nez Pierce have each year to testify that sitting over the withers does not impede the horse but rather helps it. It is also why the early California saddles were center fire. How we rope cattle has more to do with the rearward movement of the saddle than horsemanship. And the effects of that rearward, movement and it's relation to roping, has also contributed to the increasing popularity of the slick fork, low horn Wade saddle in recent years. The bigger and bigger swells meant a rider did not have to stay above the withers in order to stay on a horse that was getting a little catty but a slick fork meant the rider had to be "fork-ed" and if you look at Randy Steffens drawings of a ol' time bronc stomper you will see them sitting right over the withers and he points out that that was the benefit of the slick fork. Also the reiners and cutters I've dealt with in the Dallas/Ft Worth area a do not advocate a lot of weight in the stirrups. If you balance with too much weight in the stirrups you are actually RAISING your center of gravity so again your horsemanship suffers. David had me do a little balancing in the saddle and it is the same thing the cutters were trying to get me to do which is center you weight in the saddle and NOT put a lot of weight in the stirrups. Try sitting in a saddle with your weight in the stirrups and have someone push you from behind. You tip over like a tea pot and the more weight you push into the stirrups the easier you tip! Some of the reiners do put a lot of weight in the stirrups but their horses are performing in spite of the handicap which is what good horses do. Our horsemanship evolved out of the Spanish riding tradition including the cattle work but it seems there has been a bit lost in the translation. I know this does nothing to help Jennifer but I wanted to point these things out. A lot of what David says did not make much sense to me at first (I thought he was a kook) but then I got to visit with him in person and got a clearer picture of where he is coming from. His video is pretty good and it is clear to me now that while I've seen and met much better and much worse saddle makers as far as saddle making goes David is trying to understand the biomechanics of the horse anatomy and physiology, the human anatomy and physiology and the interplay between the two which is the totality of horsemanship. He is really doing quite a bit of research and though he may be a bit kooky......he is not a kook!

Vaya Con Dios, Alan Bell

... but the stone the builder refused; shall be the head corner stone
Bob Marley - Ride, Natty Ride

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David,

Looking at the tree pictures here. Do you have one that shows the rock of the bars? At least from the front, looks like a lot of rock. Is this how you get them forward and up over the withers more, by raising the fronts through rock? I can see how that could move the rider forward. If so, doesn't this remove some of the force at the front bar pads, but then concentrates it at the low point of the bow, theoretically where the rider is sitting? Then if someone were to use the horn for more than puling themself up, wouldn't this make the whole affair tip forward and bear down on the scapulas worse. If I am reading something into this that isn't there sorry, but more pictures and where you set these on the horse would help.

Bruce,

I have applied the idea to roping saddles working with PRCA ropers. One thing we did do was to design the tree to accomodate a one inch pad. It seemed to work just fine. One thing I think people over look on roping is that the rear of the bar on the side of the pull is also in play. In the end you have roughly 20 inches of body that can take anything so in my mind the focus should be on trying to get the largest amount of area to take the hit. At this time I don't do a lot team roping saddles mostly ranch saddles and of course that is a different style of roping and I have had no complaints there either. But I will say that this is dependent on the skill of the horseman. One of the people I relie on for feed back is Harry Whitney you can see where he sits on his site.

In the end we as saddle makers need to understand the different schools of horsemanship and understand thier needs. From that point you can specifically target your market. For instance the market I currently target are people seeking the higher levels of horesmanship. My crew builds a mass customized production saddle that is priced between a traditional factory saddle and the custom maker. No matter what market I am in that is the segment I target with what I am doing now. So for me what I want to know is if a rider understands straightness, engagement of the hind quarters and the lifting of the base of the neck then they are a potential client. If they understand these things then how I do things will work for them if not I will seem like a kook.

David Genadek

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The pictures are interesting especially B & C Where the horse is standing too far under itself exaggerating the hip. Picture A is just the opposite, The horse is well behind itself. The horse appears to have some issues other than where the rider is sitting.

David you need to clarify what you are saying and maybe give us some of the professional pictures that you use when you do your clinics and presentations. Its hard to grasp what you are trying to say or show everyone with the bits and pieces and antique art.

It might also help if you furnished us with your background as a Horseman.

I think everyone here is trying to understand if you can be a little more clear.

Kind Regards

Blake

We used to write letters to Stohlman with saddle making questions and it would always frustrate me because often his answeres would be vague in fact sometimes his answeres would just be more questions. Now I know he did that to get us to think. I realize now that saddle making is not about how but why. I'm not putting this out there for all you old timers but I do want the new people just getting into this to understand that there is more than one perspective.

My perspective of fit is based on anatomy and biomechanics so the best way to understand it is to begin there. Here are some resources that are the basis of my perspective. Principles of Conformation analysis 1,2,3 You can pick these up at almost any tack store. Conquerors which can be had here. Lastly a back issue of Inner Horseman 2002 Theme saddle fit and function which is chocked full of anatomy drawings that pertain to saddle fit such as this: images_Page_91_Image_0001.jpgThe neat thing about this one is all of it is a direct result of questions I asked about saddle fitting. There are layer by layer drawings of the anatomy as it relates to saddle fit. That along with the others can be found at the above link.

David Genadek

post-999-1210453594_thumb.jpg

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David,Thank you for the information you have given us so far. Since I am a visual learner, I am still very interested to see pictures of your trees so we can see the underside a bit better and where you place them on a horse. That would help immensely in understanding your words. Thank you.

Some comments on information presented in previous posts:

Historically saddles have been further forward than what is happening today.

Here is a link to a very interesting site David pointed us to a while back. http://nicholnl.wcp.muohio.edu/DingosBreak...eatHistory.html

It shows that throughout history the rider's position has ranged anywhere from over the hips to the base of the neck. Just because something has been done it the past doesn't mean it is wise to repeat it.

the red area has only one muscle to help stabalize the spine so it is the weakest part of the back.

While vet school has been more years ago than I care to mention and I would never claim to be an expert in anatomy, I would like to point out that the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine include: (Note, all these names have one muscle body one each side of the spine.)

Under the transverse processes – the psoas major, the psoas minor and the quadratus lumborum

Above the transverse processes – the longissimus dorsi, the middle gluteal, which starts about L2 and goes back, and the multifidus dorsi.

Some of these are large diameter muscles and the musculature around the lumbar spine is much more substantial than along the thorax where the ribs help support the trunk. So where there are no ribs, there is more muscle. And, as elsewhere in the spine, the vertebrae are well connected with a complicated system of ligaments.I find it interesting that the earliest pictures of people riding as shown on the above site have them seated right over the hips. Anatomically, this would be the strongest place for the horse to carry weight since the spine is directly connected to the leg – bones connected to bones. The forelimbs of the horse, and every other mammal I can currently think of with the exceptions of humans and primates, are not connected by bone but only by muscle. (It is the collarbone, or clavicle, which is the connecting bone when it is present and active.) So while the lumbar spine is not supported by ribs, it is much closer to a solid base of support – the pelvis – than the forelimbs which essentially hold up the front end of an animal in a sling of muscle. I am not trying to make a statement here as to where the horse is best able to carry and move with the weight of a rider. I wouldn't want to ride on a horse's hips. I am only pointing out anatomical facts.

In this thread http://leatherworker.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=901 is this quote where David Genadek made reference to his source of information.

I'm not an expert on anatomy or equine biomaechanics but I have worked with an internationally respected expert in this area for many years.

I am assuming, David, that you are referring here to Dr. Deb Bennet whose works you are citing in your last post. On her website one of the articles in the "information" section is called "Woody". Here is a link to it. http://www.equinestudies.org/knowledge_base/woody.html

In it, under the 13th heading labeled "The Righting Reflex", she states "The shoulders are more independent in a horse than in, for example, a cat or a dog, because cats and dogs have collarbones and horses don't. This gives horses an ability to lean - to go crooked - which cats or dogs don't have." While it is true that cats do have tiny collarbones that are occasionally large enough to show up on X-ray, they are imbedded in the brachiocephalicus muscle and do not connect to the skeleton. None of our other domestic mammals have collarbones. As well, while cats will right themselves as they fall if they have enough space, dogs will not. I doubt that this research has been tried with horses. Extrapolating between species as is done in this article is a dangerous business because while some principles hold true, others don't. It is errors like these that make me question the credibility of other conclusions drawn by this author.

Denise Nikkel DVM

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Hello David

I appreciate what you are trying to say but You don't need to play head games or talk down to people to avoid answering honest questions by referring to someone that tried to make you think. I pretty much think that all of us "Old Timers" can be open minded to learning new ways. Thats how we got to be Old Timers instead of falling by the wayside.

I'm afraid that your credibility is headed down the tubes unless you can show everyone what they have asked of you. You need to post pictures of your tree as Bruce requested showing what is so different about it and how it sits on a healthy horse along with an explanation of the dynamics when it is being ridden.

If we have been doing it so wrong for such a long time then I for one would like to see how it is supposed to be and why.

I have a few books on equine anatomy and have a decent understanding of the muscle structure so adding links to more pictures still doesn't directly answer any questions that you have been asked.

Regards

Blake

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When you sit ON a saddle you concentrate the bulk of your weight towards the back of the saddle, the rear bar tips are not far from the lumbar vertabrae & kidneys. Wrong spot for weight.

When you sit IN a saddle you are distributing your weight between the stirrups and the seat. This is the only way you can balance with any stability. Besides the fact that if your horse farts and jumps sideways you have a better chance of not falling off.

Reference was made to the old bronc twisters being up over the withers of thier horses to ride them. If you study the drawings of Will James, Jo Mora & Ernie Morris (very accurate drawings) you will notice as the bronc is going up they are out over the front of the horse but as the bronc starts to come down the riders are not over the front anymore. I wonder why? My experiance has been if I'm leaning ahead when them front feet hit the ground I'm next!

Alan you also stated the center-fire rigs of old sat farther forward on the horses allowing the rider to be over his horses front end more. This is not so, the center-fire rigs sat on the same spot ( just behind the scapula) as today's saddles do. On these old center-fire kahk's they used cinches that were 6 to 8 inches wide to keep them in place. A properly fitting saddle tree will go to where it wants to be on a horse's back, rigging placement will either keep it in this position or hinder it's getting there.

David I am not trying to pick a fight with you but I dang sure disagree with some of the things you are saying. My offer to try one of your trees myself is still open if you would be willing. Heck it could change my outlook on the subject.

A few years ago Eclectic Horseman magazine published a series of 3 articles by Chuck Stormes on Trees, Rigging and Groundseats. I encourage all aspiring saddlemakers and horseman to read these articles. Maybe someone more computer savy than myself could post a link

Greg

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David,

I would like to see how these trees fit on a horse. Perhaps it does work on a rider improving their horsemanship. However a guy who catches cattle for a living I think is going to have issues unless it is way different than I envision. First off, the PRCA guys are riding whoever their sponsor is - Cactus or whatever, a Billy Hogg, Tod Slone, or paying dearly for an old Howard Council. Proper horsemanship and raising the neck are the last things in their mind. They use tie downs and over and under to engage the hindquarters. I am thinking that when they reach out and stick one, they are out over the front, and the jerk is minimal now that they fade their cattle instead of set them. The jerk is forward and maybe to the side as they face. The heelers and the calf horses are getting a pretty much forward jerk. If these front bars are looking like what I envision they do, that takes a heck of a back cinch to keep them from tipping down. As far as ranch roping, it all depends on the cowboy, the horse, and the crew. Big cattle and green horses, and those calves can be hopping all over in front, beside, and behind. I think that constant pull and little jerks and more work than a rodeo run is harder on a ranch horse than a rodeo horse. The rodeo horse is set for it, the ranch horse is trying to get somewhere while all this is going on.

Regarding the cutting horses. These guys are probably for the most part your brida riders. They have their feet in front ususally, and are pushing on that saddle horn to stay back. They are defintiely not up over the withers with their cracker butts in a 16-1/2" Cajun. I think a 200# non-pro being tossed forward and bracing up on the horn sticking up there is putting some force on that horn too. Probably more forward than the more downward jerk of a rope. I am not sure how those forces would factor out with vectors. The reiners in their Don Leson's or Bob's are not up over the withers either. I just have to think that most of the top horses have either really compensated for all of our mistakes, or that their are a couple ways to skin this cat.

These folks are all loading their stirrups to some degree, as were the conqistadors and the dressage riders. Not to the same degree in each event and not the same throughout each movement. Not many people are sitting their like the proverbial sack of spuds while they are changing leads, doing transitions, or trying to stay in the buggy while their mount is turning a cow on the fence, or trying not to get bucked off. These are the people most of us have targeted in our businesses.

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I have openly and honestly offered my view of the situation. On several occassions pictures have been posted of this only to be met with attacks. I did just put up a link to Harry Whitneys site which has real pictures of real horseman in one of my saddles and clearly shows what I am talking about. This debate has gone on since the beginning of horsemanship. I personally think you guys are some really incredible saddle makers and I have been referring people to Rod for his trees because in my opinion he is the most knowledgeable tree maker out there. However,there is more than one concept of fitting a saddle because there is more than one concept of how to ride a horse. It is unfair for the people that are trying to learn, not to be presented with alternative concepts. There is more than one path.

David Genadek

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All I can say as a newby to saddle making is thanks to all of you for sharing your knowledge and views. I can see that saddle making is like horsemanship - lots of opinions. All are valuable and should be filtered by the listener. When I started riding I learned to listen to everyone and take away from that what made sense to me. I think I've become a pretty good horseman because of it. I'm trying to do the same with saddle making. I respect all your abilities and opinions and THANK YOU VERY MUCH for sharing them. I have MUCH more to learn. I'll be dead before I ever get this right but I sure am enjoying the process. It's discussions like this that we all learn new ideas from and grow.

A couple of quotes that fit here are;

“The forest is a quiet place if only the best birds sing.”

- Kay Johnson

“Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.”

- Will Rogers

Thanks,

ArtS

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Once again I'm on the road, (D.C., Va., and Fl.) and missed the first parts of this discussion but wanted to add what I've found. "I wouldn't choose A as my choice to sit on a horse because it's putting all the weight he's carrying on the front end, the smoothest gaited horse will ride rough and have no choice but to learn to work on his front end, there goes any caliber of an actual stop and a horse couldn't rein very well when his front end is too heavy to get off his front feet and work on his butt. The result of riding a horse that far forward would prevent him from doing the job I need him for, if he stops on his front end and has to walk a circle to turn around he's rendered pretty much useless in a corrall sorting cows." -JRRedding. Not meaning to offend anyone so I'll just say that from what I've learned that is the opposite of what history teaches. The Spanish were the "Supreme" mounted warriors because they could rein their horses and get them to work off their hind ends BETTER than anyone else at the time and this is due in large part to where they sat. The Native Americans out rode the cavalry and you can still see spectacular bareback riding including sliding stops and spins at Crow Fair and the big endurance race the Nez Pierce have each year to testify that sitting over the withers does not impede the horse but rather helps it. It is also why the early California saddles were center fire. How we rope cattle has more to do with the rearward movement of the saddle than horsemanship. And the effects of that rearward, movement and it's relation to roping, has also contributed to the increasing popularity of the slick fork, low horn Wade saddle in recent years. The bigger and bigger swells meant a rider did not have to stay above the withers in order to stay on a horse that was getting a little catty but a slick fork meant the rider had to be "fork-ed" and if you look at Randy Steffens drawings of a ol' time bronc stomper you will see them sitting right over the withers and he points out that that was the benefit of the slick fork. Also the reiners and cutters I've dealt with in the Dallas/Ft Worth area a do not advocate a lot of weight in the stirrups. If you balance with too much weight in the stirrups you are actually RAISING your center of gravity so again your horsemanship suffers. David had me do a little balancing in the saddle and it is the same thing the cutters were trying to get me to do which is center you weight in the saddle and NOT put a lot of weight in the stirrups. Try sitting in a saddle with your weight in the stirrups and have someone push you from behind. You tip over like a tea pot and the more weight you push into the stirrups the easier you tip! Some of the reiners do put a lot of weight in the stirrups but their horses are performing in spite of the handicap which is what good horses do. Our horsemanship evolved out of the Spanish riding tradition including the cattle work but it seems there has been a bit lost in the translation. I know this does nothing to help Jennifer but I wanted to point these things out. A lot of what David says did not make much sense to me at first (I thought he was a kook) but then I got to visit with him in person and got a clearer picture of where he is coming from. His video is pretty good and it is clear to me now that while I've seen and met much better and much worse saddle makers as far as saddle making goes David is trying to understand the biomechanics of the horse anatomy and physiology, the human anatomy and physiology and the interplay between the two which is the totality of horsemanship. He is really doing quite a bit of research and though he may be a bit kooky......he is not a kook!

Vaya Con Dios, Alan Bell

Bob Marley - Ride, Natty Ride

Alan, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree like gentlemen here, I will respond breifly in my own defense and then I'm done.I won't compare Spanish history notes and try to draw conclusions from old pencil sketches because It really doesn't pertain to the topic. I've seen Indians ride horses I've lived on the border of the largest reservation in the state my entire life. I do understand how to cinch a bronc and ride a cutting horse I've done both of them. I'm genuinely not interested in how rearward movement will affect my roping, I've roped thousands of cattle and it's working fine, wouldn't want to foul that up. If someones pushing me from behind while I'm sitting on my horse I'm just gonna pray she has brown hair and I don't turn around to find a mustache with Copenhagen breath. And I never called David a kook.

I fold, deal me out

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David, the first diagram makes so much sense with the color zones for strength of the back. I come from the Morgan Saddlebred Hackney industry, worlds apart from the stock horses. Growing up in 4-H we were always taught the horse carried 60% of their weight on the forhand, with the saddlehorses the further back you can get the neck, the higher you can get the head and rocked back the higher the horse will trot. 50/50 on the weight some horses are built for this, most are not, it seems as thought a lot of the horses that redistribute their weight in this manor break down behind a lot faster, where all the impulsion comes from, thinking that on a lot of the horses the riders are dropping back into the weaker zones of the back. A lot of it comes down to the conformation, I feel that the horse that has a natural carriage, whether it be high or low is a lot better off. From pushing penuts to puking a full bridle with their heads cranked back unnatural carriage of the head is going to lead to problems. I know that I am opening a whole can of worms mentioning this, but my point is from roping and reining, to dressage and saddle horses the benifit is to be on the strongest point of the back. Dr.Raun, a vet and hackney pony breeder did a demo and he suggested on the show pony that the back pad be more centered in the back, roughly 4" from the withers, pm a 4 wheel viceroy the back pad carries little to no weight however but even that is in the stronger part of the back. But very valid points on the weight forward aspect of rider positioning, trends seem to move riders this way, that way, and every other way. A good friend of mine is a 6th generation morgan breeder and trainer always says he does it the same way he learned from his grandfather who learned from his grandfather, (who was a vet), Basic, simple and no gimics, let the horse choose what they want to do and go with it.

-Andrew

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