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Improved poll for sitting position
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I would like to sit on my horse in position
   
   
   
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David Genadek
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 Posted: Fri Apr 4th, 2008 02:00 am
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Flexible Panel Systems





Marilyn Indiana
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Joined: Sat Mar 31st, 2007
Location: Indiana USA
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 Posted: Fri Apr 4th, 2008 03:20 pm
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I wasn't able to view the videos for some reason and I also have slow dial up but today I discovered how.

When my cursor arrow goes over the black video screen, a window appears at the top that says "Download This Video", just to the right is a down arrow and an X to close. Clicking on the down arrow brings up a menu with the option to Save video as... Clicking on this option starts the download and eventually when that finishes, the video plays.

Hope this is helpful to others that also haven't been able to see these videos.

Very interesting. Thanks David.

Marilyn

Indiana

Pam
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Location: Lafayette, California USA
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 Posted: Fri Apr 4th, 2008 08:53 pm
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David, I've owned two flex panel saddles, and while I liked them, I found that with a horse with super high withers it didn't work.  The saddles tend to plunge the rider forward and onto the withers.  In other words, there is no support up front.

Have you ever had to fit a saddle to a horse with huge withers?

Regards,

Pam

Joe
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Joined: Mon Apr 16th, 2007
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 Posted: Sat Apr 5th, 2008 01:20 am
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Dave:

Flexible panels are indeed silly; the latest in a number of efforts to create a saddle that adjusts to the horse.  Both the Britisha and the US Calvalry tried pivoting bar systems that failed to conform properly to the the back, and also had structural weaknesses that caused failure.  I forget the designation of the Britich saddles (they were a UP varient),  but the US experiment was the M1912 Experimental Saddle.

I guess in actuality, that a properly flocked stock saddle or a properly stuffed "english" saddle, each reasonably fresh and flexible ARE as good as flexible panels get.

Joe

Sophia
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 Posted: Sat Apr 5th, 2008 07:42 pm
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David,

        I'm struggling to understand a lot of what you are explaining about rigging and panels in relation to riding in an english seat. Do you still want any style english saddle to sit beginning at the high point of the wither? What about the rigging for them?

tricolchin
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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2008 03:25 am
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Great video--I e-mailed Liz about a year ago with this very question regarding flexible panels--she explained exactly what your videos shows.  This is the same reason we are warned, when buying a used saddle, to beware of a broken tree.  Spine clearance is key!

 Regarding English saddles (Sophia's question), would placing girth at middle and last buckle be considered centered rigging?  Are 'spring steel trees" in English saddles causing similar challenges as the flexible panels in your video?  Thanks for the info., David! 

~Katherine

David Genadek
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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2008 05:58 pm
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Pam wrote: David, I've owned two flex panel saddles, and while I liked them, I found that with a horse with super high withers it didn't work.  The saddles tend to plunge the rider forward and onto the withers.  In other words, there is no support up front.

Have you ever had to fit a saddle to a horse with huge withers?

Regards,

Pam

Pam,
Withers are a really common concern.   Some will think their horse has no whither when it does.  Others will think their horse has a huge whither when it has a normal whither.  What we all need to learn to see is the state of the muscles around the whither.  If they are really tight and drawn in it may make the whither appear to be large because the muscles that usually fill in the space around them don’t have the healthy mass that they should.  Flexible panel systems are extremely good at producing this type of situation.  Likewise some horses have a lot of muscle mass around the wither, so they don’t think the horse has a wither.  You need to look from the base of the neck to the top line to get an indication of how big the withers actually are.  In most cases if you focus on fitting the rib cage the withers will take care of themselves.   
   Deb wrote an article for Equus a while called the wonder of withers.  Back then the editor felt strongly that it was the whither that held the saddle on that they had trouble with Deb’s comments about fitting the rib cage and not the whither now the saddles are being placed so far back it is less of an issue.  
    Another really good resource on this subject is what Deb wrote for The Inner Horseman Volume 6 No1 January 2002 Her series of drawings on in this article is just wonderful  to give you perspective on just what comes in to play in regard to saddle fit.  My Bridge drawing above is my one picture summation of what the stabilizing forces on the spine as I have interpreted them from this article.   This becomes a critical concept because if those muscles around the whither are being improperly used then you are affecting the stabilizers to the spine.
This is from Wikipedia:
They are made up by the dorsal spinal processes of the first 5 to 9 thoracic vertebrae (every horse has 18 thoracic vertebrae), which are unusually long in this area. The processes of the withers are less than 6" in height on the average horse. Since they do not move relative to the ground (as does the horse's head), the height of a horse is measured from the ground to the withers. Horse sizes are extremely variable, from small pony breeds to large draft breeds. The height of the withers on an average Thoroughbred is 16 hands (5' 4").
I guess whoever wrote this does not know about raising the base of the neck.
David Genadek

David Genadek
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Location: Spring Valley, Minnesota USA
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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2008 06:08 pm
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Sophia wrote: David,

        I'm struggling to understand a lot of what you are explaining about rigging and panels in relation to riding in an english seat. Do you still want any style english saddle to sit beginning at the high point of the wither? What about the rigging for them?
Sophia,
     It might help if you think in terms of where you want to sit rather than where the front of the saddle is as that can vary a lot. You also have to keep in mind where the saddle was designed to sit which can also vary. If it was designed to sit back and you place it forward it will cause a problem. The high point of the whither works as a general rule on my trees but cannot be used as a stead fast rule. 
   The rigging should hold the middle of the saddle quetly on the horses back.
David Genadek

David Genadek
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Joined: Sun May 13th, 2007
Location: Spring Valley, Minnesota USA
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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2008 06:22 pm
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tricolchin wrote: Great video--I e-mailed Liz about a year ago with this very question regarding flexible panels--she explained exactly what your videos shows.  This is the same reason we are warned, when buying a used saddle, to beware of a broken tree.  Spine clearance is key!

 Regarding English saddles (Sophia's question), would placing girth at middle and last buckle be considered centered rigging?  Are 'spring steel trees" in English saddles causing similar challenges as the flexible panels in your video?  Thanks for the info., David! 

~Katherine
Katherine,
    As a rule using the middle and last buckle will help direct the pull toward the middle of the saddle but as to if it is single configuration in the center position depends on where the billets tie into the saddle tree.  On a practical level stick your saddle where you want it to be and pull on the billets and see what happens. If they are to far foreward( which is really common) the back of the saddle will pop up.
    I am not  familier enough with a spring steel trees to make a comment but I did see one yesterday at a clinic and saw no problem with it. That has me questioning if they are just talking about a material and not a function. What claims do they make about them?
David Genadek

Sam
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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2008 08:25 pm
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Hi David,

Will have to have a read of that Inner Horseman, it is yet to make it to my collection.  Internet is too slow to see the videos, what is a flexible panel...I have seen the military saddle with hinges in a museum are the modern versions similar and why do they cause a problem, ( I know the answer is in the vid but can't see it)  Is this the same as a flexible tree.  If I grab the front of my saddle (GP) and the cantle I can twist it and it is not rigid, it moves/twists.  Is that any advantage/disadvantage for the horse? 

This has been so interesting to me.  I have set up a V rig on my western saddle, and it actually sits on Muffy really well, no longer digs in behind the shoulder blades.  Your images of the rocking chair on the horse have helped hugely.  As to Giant Shet, we are still having a play with his saddle, will the concept of fitting the rib cage take care of/ help with regards to fitting the saddle on him, downhill, really wide ribcage, wither sits down between two big shoulder blades that sort of sit out from his body.  Hope this makes sense!  Those shoulder blades insist on running into the saddle, is the front still not wide enough, so does that mean the back of the saddle needs to be even wider/lower?   Again thanks for sharing your insights and knowledge, lots of light bulbs going off down here.

Regards Sam

tricolchin
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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2008 11:25 pm
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David,

From the following link, it looks as though the "spring" has to do with webbing tension and the tree.  The panels and wool flocking are added later.  So I'm thinking this is NOT the same as a tree that is made of material similar to tire rubber...the kind of flexible system a well-known gaited-horse 'expert' sells.

http://www.stubbennorthamerica.com/saddlecraft.htm

~Katherine

Pauline Moore
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
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 Posted: Mon Apr 7th, 2008 12:29 am
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David - That was a good reply to Pam's question and reminds me of the not infrequent occasions when clients tell me their mature horse has recently "grown a wither".  What has really happened, as you stated, is that the musculature of the topline has fixed itself into a permanent defensive contraction which locks the spine into an extended profile.  Superficially, this makes the withers look more prominent than when the topline is relaxed.  I think of this as a 'locked-down back' - these are the horses who cannot lift their backs in response to a stimulus on the midline in the girth area and are likely to react with laid-back ears, neither can they touch their nose to their front toes while standing square.  This muscular contraction can be released with an hour's deep massage and stretching but unless the primary cause is removed, the extended spine will return within minutes.

You are right that a saddle digging into the shoulders will produce this wither/spine shape, usually accompanied by sore spots at the points of contact just behind the scapula.  Another cause I've come across frequently has to do with feet - when the coffin bones of the hind feet are in a negative plane orientation, or even just too low for that particular horse without actually being negative.  This causes all the joints of the hind limb to be stressed and the horse protects his spine by locking it down into an extended outline.  An easy way to prove this is to make some temporary wedges out of any material  that's lying around (cardboard, newspaper, foam, whatever) and use duct tape to attach to the hind heels.   Five minutes of hand walking is enough for the horse to realize it's safe to release the topline muscles and the spine will return to a normal neutral position.  Next step, of course, is to permanently address the problem in the feet.

David, given this scenario my advice is generally that the horse should not be ridden until the feet have been fixed.   Mostly, this problem has been there for a long time and it is likely a saddle was fitted while the horse had that locked-down shape.  Will a saddle fitted to the ribcage allow for the wide range of back profiles going from an extended, lock-down shape to (hopefully) a raised, flexed spine?  Or should the rider understand that a new saddle will be necessary?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Best wishes - Pauline



David Genadek
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Joined: Sun May 13th, 2007
Location: Spring Valley, Minnesota USA
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 Posted: Mon Apr 7th, 2008 11:22 pm
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Sam wrote: Hi David,

Will have to have a read of that Inner Horseman, it is yet to make it to my collection.  Internet is too slow to see the videos, what is a flexible panel...I have seen the military saddle with hinges in a museum are the modern versions similar and why do they cause a problem, ( I know the answer is in the vid but can't see it)  Is this the same as a flexible tree.  If I grab the front of my saddle (GP) and the cantle I can twist it and it is not rigid, it moves/twists.  Is that any advantage/disadvantage for the horse? 

This has been so interesting to me.  I have set up a V rig on my western saddle, and it actually sits on Muffy really well, no longer digs in behind the shoulder blades.  Your images of the rocking chair on the horse have helped hugely.  As to Giant Shet, we are still having a play with his saddle, will the concept of fitting the rib cage take care of/ help with regards to fitting the saddle on him, downhill, really wide ribcage, wither sits down between two big shoulder blades that sort of sit out from his body.  Hope this makes sense!  Those shoulder blades insist on running into the saddle, is the front still not wide enough, so does that mean the back of the saddle needs to be even wider/lower?   Again thanks for sharing your insights and knowledge, lots of light bulbs going off down here.

Regards Sam
Sam
Flex trees and panel systems are different.  A flex tree is made of a flexible material and the whole tree should flex but not so much that it can’t support the weight as in the film we showed.  In most of the western flex trees only the bars flex but the arches remain rigid which defeats the purpose and actually causes more of a problem but it sounds really good in ads.  I have put a picture of the promotional material used by the company that made the saddle we filmed folding in half.   As you can see they have now added new elements to the design.  The front and cantle are rigid which breaks a common sense rule that if has a flexible tree the whole tree needs to be flexible.  The ad is worth reading carefully so you can learn to pick up on the difference between what companies are saying and what they are actually doing.  Note the comment about the ground seat, talking about years of experience hand crafting, on and on then look at the seat.  There is no level place for the pelvis and the fenders are placed to far forward and the shape of the fenders accentuates that even further. It is a Brida seat.
Flexible panel systems use a rigid tree and then place four pivot points on the tree and suspend a flexible panel from them and claim that the panel will shape to the horse. What actually happens is the four pivot points dig in and injure the horse.   
Sadly these ill conceived designs are pushed into the market with really good marketing.  I can sure see why any caring horse person would think these are the way to go.  It is unfortunate that at this time the average horse owner has little idea of what correct is any more.  When pathologies are the norm it is hard to notice that a saddle design isn’t performing.
As for Giant Shet it would be impossible for me to tell you what you need to do without seeing the situation but it sounds like your getting a pretty good handle on it.  You may find Pauline’s post of interest.
David Genadek

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David Genadek
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Joined: Sun May 13th, 2007
Location: Spring Valley, Minnesota USA
Posts: 426
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Apr 8th, 2008 12:05 am
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Pauline Moore wrote: David - That was a good reply to Pam's question and reminds me of the not infrequent occasions when clients tell me their mature horse has recently "grown a wither".  What has really happened, as you stated, is that the musculature of the topline has fixed itself into a permanent defensive contraction which locks the spine into an extended profile.  Superficially, this makes the withers look more prominent than when the topline is relaxed.  I think of this as a 'locked-down back' - these are the horses who cannot lift their backs in response to a stimulus on the midline in the girth area and are likely to react with laid-back ears, neither can they touch their nose to their front toes while standing square.  This muscular contraction can be released with an hour's deep massage and stretching but unless the primary cause is removed, the extended spine will return within minutes.

You are right that a saddle digging into the shoulders will produce this wither/spine shape, usually accompanied by sore spots at the points of contact just behind the scapula.  Another cause I've come across frequently has to do with feet - when the coffin bones of the hind feet are in a negative plane orientation, or even just too low for that particular horse without actually being negative.  This causes all the joints of the hind limb to be stressed and the horse protects his spine by locking it down into an extended outline.  An easy way to prove this is to make some temporary wedges out of any material  that's lying around (cardboard, newspaper, foam, whatever) and use duct tape to attach to the hind heels.   Five minutes of hand walking is enough for the horse to realize it's safe to release the topline muscles and the spine will return to a normal neutral position.  Next step, of course, is to permanently address the problem in the feet.

David, given this scenario my advice is generally that the horse should not be ridden until the feet have been fixed.   Mostly, this problem has been there for a long time and it is likely a saddle was fitted while the horse had that locked-down shape.  Will a saddle fitted to the ribcage allow for the wide range of back profiles going from an extended, lock-down shape to (hopefully) a raised, flexed spine?  Or should the rider understand that a new saddle will be necessary?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Best wishes - Pauline



Pauline!!!
     What a great reply!!!  Some things that are worth noting here: 
First the time frame that a release could be achieved.  Professionals know how to achieve straightness and maintain it.  I see horses brought in to Liz all the time that are really crooked with locked down spines and within a few weeks they have transformed into healthy looking horses.  Understanding this should be the goal of every rider.
The attitude, that you address the root cause and fix it before you move on.  Can you imagine a baseball coach trying to teach a kid with a broken arm to pitch?  If the feet or anything else is messed up it has to be fixed before training will be effective.  There are no exceptions to this.  What the owner wants does not change this reality.
In regard the saddle if it was fitted to a locked down back in all likely hood you will need to redone.  The number of rib cage shapes is limited the ways we can distort the shape is unlimited.  The reason people get so overwhelmed by saddle fit is because they are trying to fit messed up horses.  If the industry adapted the attitude that they would only fit healthy horses the problem would become manageable.
David Genadek

Pauline Moore
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Location: Crows Nest, Australia
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 Posted: Tue Apr 8th, 2008 10:33 am
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David - Thanks very much for your reply, I kind of thought that's what you might say.  As you can imagine, I'm frequently not at all popular - first I tell someone their horse shouldn't  be ridden for a while, then I suggest they might need to change their farrier/learn to do it themselves, then I say they'll need a new saddle - and that's just for starters.  If they're still listening at that point then there's a reasonable chance they genuinely care about the horse.  If not, well ...we won't go there.  I expect you face the same dilemma, not easy is it?

Best wishes - Pauline

Last edited on Tue Apr 8th, 2008 10:51 am by Pauline Moore


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