mikesh

tree fit question

Recommended Posts

I'm about to make a saddle for a cowhorse trainer and I would like to get peoples opinion on fit.  He usually has 25+ horses in training and I would like to fit as many as possible.  He spends alot of time getting the horses collected, rounding up their backs, ect so these horses have well developed strong backs.  So, in order to fit as many as posible, regarding the rock of the bars, I'm leaning towards fitting the straighter backed horses so the ones where the fit is off will have a gap in the middle or the bars rather than rocking up at the ends.  My thinking is when these horses are being ridden and they collect themselves they will round into that space.  So,  I'd like to get other peoples thoughts on this, thanks, Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Mike,

 

What I think you are suggesting is to intentionally induce "bridging" in your saddlemaking.  Most of us try to avoid this.  If a guy has 25 horses in training, he can probably afford to buy a couple of well-fitting saddles.  If he's trying to "make do", then he will soon run out of clients.

When you see horses in the movies or on TV and they have white spots on their loins and withers, this is mostly because the saddles "bridge". This is uncomfortable for the horse, as not only do the ends of the bars carry all of the saddle's weight, they also carry the totality of the rider's weight.  Add to this that the saddle with slip about under "performance conditions" and you can see why this isn't a good idea.  As a parallel, get yourself a backpack weighing about 70 pounds or so, and then where the pack frame contacts your hips and shoulders, add a block of wood, then go run a couple of miles.  Makes a believer of you.

Edited by SaddleBags

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a personal experience thing!!!  I have ridden the same saddle since 1957 on a multitude horses..............from high withered  thoroughbreds  to no withered quarter horses and in all those years, I have never sored up a horses back.  We used folded gunny sacks to make up any difference.  As far as "saddle marks" are concerned, just because a horse has them doesn't necessarily mean they had an ill fitting saddle or somebody sat on them like a sack of spuds.  Some horses just seem to slip a little hair and have saddle marks and others never do.  I'm sure there are some people that will disagree but difference of opinion is what makes a horse race.  In my opinion, anybody that professes to know everything about horses, saddles and fitting is just showing their ignorance and I for sure am not an expert even at 80 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saddle Bags

I reread my post and see how it sounds like he's trying to make do, but he has at least 6 saddles I can think of off the top of my head and I'm sure there are a couple more I've forgotten.

What I'm thinking about is if the tree is bridging, then when we have someone who teaches their horse collection,  when the horse rounds his back up, isn't he going to fill the area that is bridging and end up with the bars fitting.  It seems to me if the saddle fits when he's relaxed, as soon as he collects himself you are going to lift the center of the bars and have the ends not making contact.

Hopefully this explains what I'm thinking better than my first post, so what does everyone think

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mikesh,

 

Hasbeen is  right on top of it.  If there were a one-size fits all solution, then this saddlemaking game would be much simpler.  But as I like to remind myself, there are many right way and many wrong ways to build a saddle.  ...and there and many right ways and many wrong ways to fit a tree to a horse.  I prefer making to fit "horses of a type" rather than making to fit a specific horse.  Other than the one horse I built specifically for (and that horse was built more like a giraffe) I can honestly say that the saddles can move freely amongst others of the same type.  While I didn't intend to intimate (re-read my previous post if in doubt) that ALL white marks are cause by bridging, nor are they all caused by too narrow a gullet.  All I'm saying is that if I have the latitude to do so, I prefer to address the bridging issue in the building of a saddle rather than in the saddling process.  Seems to me that eliminating what variables you can is the prudent course, no matter how long you have been in the business or how old you might be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are some old threads on the forum here discussing this issue. It may be 5-7 years ago.  At the time Rod Nikkel was still making trees and Denise had done quite a lot of studies about pressure, bridging, fitting most horses, etc. The room to round up issue was addressed and Here is what I believe the consensus came to - At one point in the stride the back may round up into that area but generally the whole musculature is lifting through out the stride. To allow a space for one group of muscles to round into at the expense of increased local pressure on the rest of the supporting muscles doesn't pan out.   You mentioned cowhorses and a whole different ball game than a walk trot lope events. Horses have to adjust their stride, stop hard, turn short and fast, stretch out, shorten up run hard slow up and rate. Rounding up throughout all of that is not generally the case.  

I am attaching a picture I took back then. This picture has been around a bit. Denise and Rod may have used on their website. The test monkey in the picture is cowhorse bred and might have been 7 years old then. The customer had ordered this tree brought it to be built on. The tree was from a production tree maker and popular with some of the cutting and cowhorse saddle makers. I did as much lifting tricks I could from the ground and could never get him to lift his belly enough to make any difference. I passed on using that tree. 

 

bridging tree.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Bruce,

I always look around at the old posts and usually find an answer but I missed that thread.  I find that when I have a question 95% of the time it has already been asked.  What got me thinking about this was seeing these horses collected and often it looks like the back of the saddle is lifting off the horses back.

Thanks everyone, Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Neat post...didn't want to comment but your last post enters into a different subject matter.  You started talking about bars, but you mentioned about the saddle raising in the back in your last post.  This issue can be caused by misplacing the location of your rigging.  Many roping saddle are rigged in the full position.  This often creates a pivot point at the center or ahead of the front forks.  When the rear flank cinch is not tight, the saddle will lift up in the rear when the horse rolls forward (lack of a better description).  By positioning the rigging at 7/8ths. or 3/4 this pivot point is moved back, and the weight of the rider keeps the saddle from raising in the rear.  I also agree with all of the previous comments.  Weight distribution along the horses back is best achieved when the bar alignment is equal along the back.  Build a few saddles before you try to be innovative.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ron

Build a few saddles before I try to be innovative?  As Bruce said, there have been previous threads on this subject, so I'm not the first person to think about this.  I have built "a few saddles" but I don't care if it's someones 1st or 100th, I like people who think about things, ask questions, and have open minds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I'm sorry that I offended you.  Your original post, and your interest quote led me to believe that you were just starting in saddle making.  I tip my hat to you for trying different things.  Every day I learn that I won't live long enough to achieve great things, so I shouldn't offer advice to those who may.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, I believe if you consult with "real cowboys-horsemen" out of big, rough ranch country you will find a general agreement on fitting saddles on horses.  Remember these people ride horses hard, long hours in varying terrain, doing a lot of different kinds of work.  Everything from covering miles and miles of country a day, to sorting cattle a horseback, roping heavy cattle, roping fast cattle, dragging cows out of bogs and the list goes on.  What I have learned by  being around these people is the following.

#1.  If you sore up your horses, you are on the fence or hay crew or going down the road.

 2. Years ago, many years ago, almost everyone rode a certain type of horse and a good saddle fit about everything you rode

 3  Now a days, you either ride one type of horse or you have more than one saddle to fit the different types you are riding

 4. Soring backs is possible with a very good fitting saddle, properly built if you use poor quality blankets, pads etc, don't keep them fairly clean

    and do not ride well and do not saddle a horse properly.

5.  The picture Bruce posted is priceless.  I have a tree in my shop  that fits a horse just like that.  It is still bare but it has had over 300 sets of stirrup leathers stretched and shaped on it.

6.  In conclusion,  get a high quality saddle that fits your horse that is suitable for the type of riding you do AND fits your horse correctly

     Buy quality blankets and pads to put under your saddle.  Keep them clean  If you can not afford quality tack, you may need to reconsider owning and riding horses.  I have never seen a good cowboy-horseman put a gunny sack, piece of carpet or bed blanket  under his saddle.

     Learn to properly saddle your horse, learn to sit a proper seat, if you don't already know how. 

   7. Watch your horse's back and address little problems before they become big problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great words, Nelson!!!

That is about as concise as you can get and I agree with every single word. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To back up a bit here;  when you talk about a horse rounding up his back on hard and sliding stops, if you notice the pictures of the professionals doing it- notice most of them do not have a flank cinch. This allows the rear of the saddle to "lift" off of the horses back.  In my opinion, the saddle does not lift off of the loin, the loin drops down from the saddle.  If you were to ride one of these horses with a wide flank cinch like ropers and ranch cowboys ride and kept it snug, it would interfer with the horses ability to do these  stops and slides. But then again no horses stop harder than a good calf horse.     Now,  most calf saddles are pretty short seated, do you suppose that has anything to do with their ability to stop so hard and keep stopping hard.   It is all interesting, isn't it.

One indicator on how well saddles fit in my world is dry spots.  However, a good percentage of horses are not rode long or hard enough for that to be an indicator.  One indicator is often a horse that is  "cold backed" is or has been ridden quite a lot with an ill fitting saddle or a "blanket-pad" problem.  Given some time,  the "ouch" spots will numb up for the rest of the day to a point.  Same thing often makes horses quit pulling. A few months ago I saw a perfect example of this at a ranch rodeo  in Valentine NE.   This overweight fella was riding a pretty little paint horse that really wasn't big enough to carry his bulk.  Add into this, the man was riding a saddle that looked to be a 14 inch seat and was a very poor quality production saddle.  The horse humped around for a good 5 minutes when he first got on him.  Not only was this man riding a horse too small for him, a saddle too small for him, a poor quality saddle,  the man rode like a sack of potatoes, sitting up on the cantle of his saddle.  Guess what,  he did get a sloppy loop on a 450# critter and paint would not pull him one step. 

I rest my case!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone,

I was originally thinking of a very limited situation where a slight deviation from the norm might be helpful. Question asked and answered, thanks. 

Also, when Bruce posted there had been previous threads on this, I was able to figure out what I did wrong on my previous search on the subject, so I got a two-fer.    Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now