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Saddle trees and changing back shape
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DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Aug 6th, 2010 09:19 pm
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Let me contribute to this also, guys, in the way of specifically indicating the position of some of the anatomical parts on the saddled and ridden horse. Dave, the photos of Liz show very good work, and everybody should click on that link and look at those too; not least to see someone besides myself who will work with 'gaited' horses in the understanding that the horse not only can, but should, perform with round posture when in gait; in other words, that the horse should be collected properly, which is to say, in a manner no different from that of any other type of horse.

On this photo I have marked the location of key parts of the anatomy. Note that Ollie is a much bigger horse than Tindur, and also that Dr. Deb is a much fatter individual than Adam Till. So my buttocks and thighs fill the saddle quite. Nonetheless I am not sitting upon the cantle, nor upon the flat of my ass; note how wide, Adam, my thighs are spread, which is something I was asking you to think about in a previous post. I used the analogy of sitting on the cup of a funnel, with the small end of the funnel to the back; see how my legs conform to this picture; see how my knees and my toes turn out the same amount.

You may also perceive that, in the 'English' or Brida-treed saddle in which I am riding, how the rear part of the cantle interacts with the pad and the horse's back. The tail end of the cantle stops just where Ollie's last rib hooks on to the vertebrae. The center of my weight, however, is as many vertebrae ahead of this as I can get it. In other words, the saddle covers the entirety of his thorax from the withers/shoulders back, but thanks to the fact that this saddle is rigged correctly, shaped to fit him, and that I am sitting in it correctly, effectively my weight impacts him upon, or ahead of, the anticlinal vertebra, which is T17 (the last thoracic is T18). The vertical black line shows where my weight presses upon him the most.

As Adam you are an engineer, you well understand the implications of this. We need the horse to be free not only through the lumbar span, but up to the anticlinal vertebra, because functionally this is the 'rear half' of the weightbearing arch, which the horse needs free in order to be able to coil the loins as the first step in cantilevering the fore part of the body from rear to front.

Attachment: Forum Ollie collected in gait lumbars marked cprsd.jpg (Downloaded 482 times)

AdamTill
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 Posted: Mon Aug 9th, 2010 06:28 pm
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Thanks again for the feedback folks, and I appologize for the delay in responding.

>Yes, David has hit the nail on the head: the distribution of the rock needs changing. Perhaps you can experiment with this -- not to really >use the saddle this way, but to get a better idea for your no. 2 tree -- by not only applying the skirting and wool as Dave suggested, but >also using some extra wool, piling it up to make the shape right. That, or some kind of clay that would harden, and you make the new shape by >applying that to the bottom of the tree, and then put the wool on that.

Hi Dr. Deb,

I think it's probably easiest to just start from scratch, given that while the bar rock would be relatively straightforward to change (skived leather would probably be easiest), the fork angle wouldn't be (I don't fancy trying to saw through 8 screws, for example). A side of good quality leather is a $300-400 touch nowadays (needing two per saddle) and a bark-tanned shearling isn't much less, and I don't really have that to spare.

>To me, the hardest thing there would be preserving the shape, transferring it if you will to the new tree. How does one do that for a 3D >object?

I'd probaby just do it with a combination of a few contour templates from my original drawings, reference to the mold I used to build the original, then by just by eye. Lacking room for a CNC router table, I'm thinking that it's time to learn to use a drawknife and spokeshave.

>One other item -- Adam, I understand in the mirror shot you must have been at least 50% with your mind on taking the photo, leaving only 50% >to be thinking about how you are sitting. But I want you to think about how you are sitting. First, though you're hardly overweight, the >distance from the buttons of the fore arch straight back to the buttons of the cantle arch on this tree leaves barely enough room for your >leg. In other words -- this saddle isn't going to be comfortable for you if you gain ten pounds, and really ought to be at least a little bit >bigger even so.

Very true. I was trying to fit as much as possible into a narrower space since I don't have much fore-aft length to play with in Tindur's saddle fitting zone, but this might have been a bit too ambitious.

>Second, you're sitting too much on the flat of your ass. You need to open your thighs more (left-right), concentrate harder on sitting right >down on your seatbones, with the tip of your pubis just grazing the saddle in front, and no part of your tailbone touching the seat in back. >You also need to keep your buttocks off the cantle. In short, you need to figure on riding farther forward on the seat, with a 20% difference >in the angle and weighting of your pelvis.

Thanks very much for the reminders, but the main reason I was sitting like this hereis that's the only spot I could sit right now where my seatbones aren't on the edge of the bars :) The only contoured bit is at the back, and the centerline of these english stirrup leathers is a couple of inches further forward than 4" wide western leathers would fit. All that combined for a lousy seat here...I was just looking to make sure the stirrup slot was in roughly the right place for v2.

This was a borrowed saddle with leathers that are still a bit too far forward, but it's a bit more flattering I hope:


Hi Manu,
 
>I've been following this thread with interest and I am utterly impressed with your workmanship. Looking forward to  the next installment ;-)

Thanks, stay tuned I guess.

>If you were to finish this one, What would the rigging be like?
>You mentioned a 'Sam Stagg double loop'. I tried to google for a pic but wasn't all that successful. Would you elaborate, please? (So that >someone used to English saddles can understand, please!)

In a Sam Stagg rig, the front rigging gets looped over the fork at the front of the saddle. I might have read that it dates back to when screws weren't commonly available, which is what modern flat plate rigs depend upon...not sure on that point.

In a "normal" Sam stagg rig, the leather is a 3-4" wide strip that gets cut along the centerline from the outside towards the middle, leaving about 1-2" of uncut material in the center which holds the two together. The front strip goes straight over the fork, and the back strap wraps around the horn before joining with the front strap down on the rigging rings/d's.

In a double loop variant, the ends are not split, but instead the entire centerline is split save for a couple of inches on either end. After a bit of fancy folding, both loops go around the horn, and the wider ends are attached to d-rings. Looks a bit cleaner, to my eye.

>From the fotos it looks like Tindur's natural girth groove is straight under or even slightly forward of the fork - which in my mind makes it >tricky to prevent the girth from pulling the saddle onto the shoulders. I am struggling with this on one of our horses and had to resort to a >luna girth, but I'm wondering whether there's another way...

On an english saddle it's tricker to deal with, since you're stuck with essentially a full rigged or 7/8's rigged saddle without the rear billet. Those are more likely to creep forward. That said, if the saddle fits, then the rigging is less likely to move around at all. With Tindur it hasn't been a problem thus far even with an english saddle (this one doesn't budge forward or aft ever, just side to side):


Hi David,
 
>Here is what my cantle gullets look like:
>You need enough space in there to stick all the layers that come together there,
>and still have enough room to create a good tunnel for the spine.

Thanks much, very helpful! I think I'll stick with this setup next time around, for sure.

>Here is the shot of the tad of rock I add to the end of the bar.

Yep, I think I have a better idea of what to look for there now as well.

>I went and looked at where you originally designed the tree to sit and it seems to me that you are now placing it about 6 inches further back >than where you designed it to sit. So of course your rock profile would be off.
>Deb is correct that the tree makers often design the trees to sit further back and now it has become a disease in the industry. You, however, >went through all the real work to define the most logical place for the saddle to sit and designed accordingly. I still think if you stick to >your guns it will work.

I did play around with the location a fair amount, and I think Tindur's a different shape now then the year or so ago when the tracing was done. I don't seem to have the clearance that was available back then, and he isn't noticably fatter per say (meaning I think the changes are structural/muscular rather then adipose in nature). I don't think the bar shape is light years off, but there's room for improvement for sure.

Even with all that, I think the fork issue is still there enough to call this one a "learning opportunity".

> Here is a link to Liz's blog where she just posted some pictures of her riding in some of my saddles.
>http://elizabethgraves.blogspot.com/ Look at how forward the saddle is placed. Look at how the horses are coming through. Note how you can >almost see the entire lumbar span. If you get Equus go read Deb's article on necks then notice the necks on these horses and notice there is >not a bit on any of the horses. Lastly look at the abs and see how engaged they are. What all this tells us is she is creating the gaits a >hundred percent through spinal oscillation. This would not be possible if the forward position of the saddle was blocking anything.

Thanks for that, I did take a look. I can see what you're saying.

>"I also tried just sitting in the saddle, and it confirms that I think the seat length is a bit long for the bar length."
>Is this statement True of False?
>The saddle fitting zone on a horses body gets larger as the size of the rider increases.
>If you add more length to the bars will you be weighting the Lumbar span?
>You might remember these diagrams from class.

Definitely false, and I know what you're getting at. That said, I think there is a certain minimum bar length requirement for certain seat lengths. Right now I'm thinking that an extra inch of bar length that's rocked off the back would have more benefit in keeping the skirting free of the loin then it would have potential for interference, if shaped properly.

>Many saddle makers attack the problem from the perspective of being an upholsterer and from this perspective it is true that proportionately >it looks better on a saddle when you have a certain distance from the back of the cantle to the end of the bar but this has nothing to do with >the anatomy of the horse. If only there were big moving bumps on the lumbar span like there is for the shoulders.

I can see what you're saying there too. It could be that adjusting the rock profile would be good enough, but I still think that a 22" bar might be a bit tight in this situation.


>Let me contribute to this also, guys, in the way of specifically indicating the position of some of the anatomical parts on the saddled and ridden horse. Dave, the photos of Liz show very good work, and everybody should click on that link and look at those too; not least to see someone besides myself who will work with 'gaited' horses in the understanding that the horse not only can, but should, perform with round posture when in gait; in other words, that the horse should be collected properly, which is to say, in a manner no different from that of any other type of horse.

Hi again Dr Deb,

Thanks much for that photo - it's a very good reference. Everything you folks are saying here will be taken to heart when I start version two.

Cheers,
Adam

Last edited on Mon Aug 9th, 2010 06:40 pm by AdamTill

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Aug 10th, 2010 03:48 am
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Adam, both these photos show you sitting just fine for the task you're in. I especially appreciate the bottom photo, that shows the wide spread of the thighs. This is something a lot of people have trouble with -- women especially -- they "pinch" at the top, where the thighs turn over into the flat part of the crotch. This has the effect of pushing their body up away from the horse's back, or else you can think of it the other way around, that it is pushing the horse down and away. It is as if the rider is saying to the horse "eewww, I don't want to touch you there". But horses do not have any of the hangups that people in our culture are likely to have.

That's for women to hear. For the man, well, there is of course another little pair of problems. My men students who sit well inform me that their greatest problem (and fear) is of getting the family jewels in a vice between their body and the rear surface of the pommel/fork. This would be another real good reason, I would think, to make sure you've got enough length in the seat. You want it to be the right amount, not too short of course, but not excessively long either. I think Dave G's advice on this is very good: if you want to know what size seat is right for you, go ride in a number of different saddles until you find one you're very comfortable in, and then measure the thigh opening on that one, and it will be the right size.

Another point you bring up, Adam, is also important: and that is, that you found it very uncomfortable to sit directly down upon the bars, i.e. because there's no seat built on your tree yet. Yes. This is why the Mexicans who ride in the 'esqueleto' style saddle, or the Argentinians and Uruguayans who ride in rigid-tree outfits, pile on 'sheepskins to taste'.

What we tend to do is want to build a seat, i.e. out of leather or other materials. I myself can hardly, anymore, stand to ride in any saddle that does not have a seat pretty well padded with HD foam, or else lots of sheepskin, at least four layers. There's every reason, biomechanically, for us to be sitting on our seat bones. There is NO reason why said seatbones need to get bruised.

Plus, there's another thing about sheepskin: it helps tremendously in developing a superior seat. One of the things that beginner riders usually lack is "steadiness" in the seat. Because their balance is not developed, and they are also not yet used to the zigs and zags that horses do with their backs when they shy but also when they just make the normal motions appertaining to the various gaits, the beginner tries to stay on by gripping with the knees and/or the lower part of the leg. When they do it with the knees, it engages the adductor muscles, which in turn freeze the flexibility of the rider's lower back and in turn cause bouncing. When they do it with the lower part of the leg, they almost 100% of the time will try to accomplish it by turning the knees and toes far out (much farther out than my knees/toes are in the photo above furnished) -- so as to engage the hamstring muscles. The hamstrings bend the knees; what the rider is then trying to do is "hook" the horse under the belly and, using the hamstrings, bend the knees and thereby pull himself downward into the saddle.

This is why I NEVER give longe lessons to beginning riding students without insisting that they use both stirrups the entire time. There is no benefit to doing like you see pictures of the Spanish Riding School doing. Why? Because the SRS photos are false -- they are absolutely by no means pictures of beginning riders, but rather of men who have been riding for years. They are not, by being longed without stirrups, learning how to sit, but rather, they are expert riders who are being taught a further skill -- how to maintain a correct position when they shall be required to ride the horse through "airs above the ground", which are traditionally performed without stirrups.

The SRS photos are false for another reason, also: there's much more "glue" in those guys' britches than might at first meet the eye. What I mean by this is, that their britches are made of doeskin. Ever had a pair of beautiful doeskin gloves? Remember how TACKY the feel of the leather was? Right. And then you also need to take a second look at the saddles used by the SRS. They are white leather, yes. And the leather is ROUGHOUT -- suede. You put doeskin britches against a roughout seat and panel, and baby, you ain't goin' nowhere when that horse leaps, no matter how vigorously.

Thus I say to North American riders: pile on the sheepskin. Get the saddle with the HD foam under the leather, so that the HD foam is thick enough that you put a couple of dents in it whenever you sit down on your seatbones. And then, on top of this, put one layer of sheepskin with the leather side down and the wool side up. If the leather of the sheepskin is tacky, you may be able to just lay it over the saddle and not have it move at all. If the piece you're using wants to slide around, then wop it down with an elastic blanket-surcingle and that will hold it in place.

For anyone having trouble with their legs SWINGING for example during the canter; for those who still don't react by laughing when their horse shies; for anyone just learning how to post, and trying to get that rhythm -- it's sheepskin for you. You will find out that the sheepskin will allow you to let go your clutching leg and your "pinching" seat, and that will in turn also help you let go with your clutching hands, for the two are intimately related. Once you get your balance by the aid of the sheepskin, you will then discover what your leg is really for -- which you absolutely cannot use it for while you are using your legs to grip with -- the leg is to cause the horse to increase his energy. You touch the horse with the inner aspect of your CALF -- take your knee off, do not squeeze with the knees, and unless you are actually "saying" something to your horse with your legs, you let your legs hang down out of the hip sockets like an old pair of chaps hung over a peg.

Have fun, and happy riding -- Dr. Deb

ozgaitedhorses
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 Posted: Wed Aug 11th, 2010 03:12 am
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Hi David!
Sorry for the late reply – I've been offline for a few days....
I've attached a photo of the mare in question. Not a very flattering pic of the ol' girl, but just to give you an idea.
You asked why the girth groove was there... A combination of things, I guess. Conformation, her being a hoover and good doer, easily packing extra pounds onto her already rather round ribcage – and her habit of not engaging her belly muscles if she can avoid it. The flat part of her belly, where the girth naturally slips into, is pretty much underneath the top end of her shoulderblade.

Hi Adam!
Thanks for the explanation. I did find a pic of the Sam Stagg rigging in the end. In here:
http://tinyurl.com/262pyca
I don't quite like the idea of 'pinning down the fork' and not having an anchor point at the back of the saddle. And as you noted, a rear cinch is not all that common on an English saddle ;-)
I was toying with the idea of a rigging like in a 1904 McClellan saddle (Fig. 48 in here: http://tinyurl.com/2cvdu2w). Not sure how you'd work that into an English style saddle, though....

Anyhow, I will certainly stay tuned for the next installment!
Thanks for this thread!

Hi Dr. Deb!
I hear you re. sheepskin. I had the pleasure to ride in one of those 'sheepskin piles' in Nicaragua. Very comfy and secure! I would love to get my hands on a gaucho saddle / recado criollo...

Cheers,
Manu

Attachment: Tica_Oct09a.jpg (Downloaded 331 times)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Aug 11th, 2010 05:53 am
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Well, you know, Manu, if Adam Till can take his engineering and carpentry skills and build a wooden tree, why can't some of us women get down to it with building a Gaucho-style saddle. This requires more in the way of sewing or awning-making technique and no carpentry at all. Also one could substitute duck (or the denim legs from an old pair of jeans) for the leather to make the tubes that parellel the horse's back.

Girls? Any takers on this project? There would be a lot to be learned, and just as with watching Adam build his project, we could follow it step by step. -- Dr. Deb

David Genadek
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 Posted: Wed Aug 11th, 2010 02:32 pm
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Manu,
God put the girth groove there so the leg would move over the ribs and not bang into them. So if God went to all the trouble to create the space how much sense does it make for us to fill it up with a cinch?
David Genadek

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Aug 11th, 2010 07:39 pm
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Dave, God may have created, but He never creates without specific purpose or arbitrarily.

So, taking the view from this end of the cosmos, we find that the reason the girth groove is there is because the horse's ribcage diminishes in diameter from back to front. The convex contour of the rear part of the ribcage changes as it goes to the front, becoming concave at about the 9th rib.

When the forelimbs are removed from a horse's carcass, it is evident that the concavity of the anterior portion of the ribcage is there in order to allow for the thickness of the forelimbs which have been removed. The concavity makes a space in which the forelimbs can work by swinging fore and aft.

Of necessity, the space so provided must be somewhat larger than the bulk of the forelimbs themselves; in short, it must be enough larger to not only accommodate the limb but the entire expected fore-aft swing of the limb.

The 'girth groove' is precisely that extra space as it exists for the rearward swing.

We put the girth in the girth groove, therefore, for two reasons: one, because that space is not at every moment occupied by the forelimb; and two because, depending upon how abrupt and how deep the concavity is in a given individual, it is almost impossible to cinch the horse anywhere else and expect the girth to stay put.

The first point is the reason why we want to try to avoid designing saddles that require to be cinched as close to the elbow as possible; because when cinched that far to the front, the horse's ability to retract the forelimb is interfered with.

The second point highlights why your discovery -- that the body-balance of the horse is crucially important -- may make it possible for us to design tree shapes that permit girthing farther back, and I mean girthing that does stay put even though the 'surcingle' may not go over the smallest part of the funnel.

For that is what the horse's thorax is: a funnel-shaped object, with the small end going toward the front. No one who has not attended a carcass dissection class can really appreciate this, because since the forelimbs are present on the living horse and they completely fill the concavity, the presence of the concavity and its size and extent are simply not obvious unless you have a dead horse that you can take the forelimbs off of.

....Which gives me the opportunity and impetus to mention -- we are currently taking enrollments for the carcass dissection class I'll be leading in the Bend, Oregon area during the week of Oct. 22-27. If anyone is interested in attending, please call Joe Lally at (503) 545-1541, or else Email thehorsechiro@aol.com.

Cheers -- Dr. Deb

ozgaitedhorses
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 Posted: Thu Aug 12th, 2010 03:29 am
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Hi David!
No doubt God put it there for a reason - but he gave some horses a larger flat area than others (and I doubt he had riders in mind when he came up with the design). Just have a look at your own photos (http://aboutthehorse.com/mustang_backs/ ). In the pretty fellow in foto 14, it almost looks like the 'cone' is inverted, with the largest diameter just behind the front legs. Even the mare in foto 9 has got plenty of flat real estate. On the other end of the scale would be the mare in foto 3 - although that's probably not a fair comparison since she's so heavily pregnant.

If I want to put a saddle on my mare, I have to work with what I've got. No matter where I'd put the girth in the first place, it will slide naturally into this flat spot (and believe me, I've tried!). So I've only got two options - find a saddle with a girth setup that works for her or get a horse with a more appropriate conformation. Actually, the third option would be to make my own saddle, but knowing my track record for 'home projects', I'm not sure if I want to take Dr. Deb up on her challenge....

David, you seem convinced that the girth/cinch shouldn't go there - but how do you prevent that? You referred to Liz's blog for examples of proper saddling. Have a look at the photo entitled 'Foxtrotter in collected fox trot in side pull He is in self carriage of gait' (last foto in the Aug. 4 post). That's what's happening there - the cinch is on the flat part of the rib cage, right behind the elbow.

Cheers,
Manu

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Aug 12th, 2010 10:18 am
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What is meant here, Manu, is not that the cinch should not go in the girth groove AT ALL; what David is trying to say, I believe, is that you should not do as the Pony Club teaches, i.e. mindlessly cinch the horse as close as possible behind the elbow:

*Not as close as possible behind the elbow -- as far as possible behind the elbow

*Not without noticing first whether the tree fits the horse -- if the tree does not fit, the saddle is going to move

*Not without noticing, when the tree does fit, where THE SADDLE 'wants' the girth to go, i.e., not to cram the girth up to the elbow even when there's no need for it to go there.

Manu, I believe that what you're lacking is a tree that fits your horse. I've seen you ride, and you ride plenty well enough, so it isn't that your riding is queering the system.

Nor have you really got that hard a horse to find a saddle for. Your mare is far flatter-bodied, for all her apparent funnel shape, than my old Sadie was. Sadie was a half-Arab and people were forever asking me if she was pregnant -- I mean from the front she looked like a cow that had just had a big drink, so wide was the rear part of her ribcage. Yet I never had one iota of trouble with saddling Sadie, with saddle sores, girth rubs, or the saddle wanting to scoot forward or back. What I always had for her, though, was a tree that fit her.

I also took advantage, when the possibility arose, of having a saddle that had an adjustable "Y"-style of rigging. The possibility for this arose in the middle 1980's when we had a robbery at the barn where I was at, and my saddle was stolen. I replaced it with a saddle of a quite different brand, that had the "Y" type rigging, and learned by playing around with that, that the rigging matters as much as the tree shape or very nearly.

So you might want to play with this too. If your saddle does not have a rigging that you can adjust the tension of more than one strap, either in a "Y" or a "V" configuration, then build yourself a "saddle bra". Cut a heavy piece of duck or leather into a shape wider than your cantle, with a slot down the middle so that the "bra" will slip over the cantle. Stitch "D" rings to either end of this piece, so that you can rig a latigo under the horse's belly.

This is the equivalent of telling you that you have to ride in two girths, as Dave is continually telling people, and that the rear cinch has to be nearly as snug as the normal front cinch. If your mare is not amenable to this, it will be a nice horsemanship challenge to get her so, and that's something well within your capabilities, Manu.

One last point -- if you do double-rig a saddle, be absolutely sure to get a curb strap and use it to tie the rear cinch to the front cinch -- if it slides back into the horse's groin that's just not fair. And check the rear cinch once you've ridden a few minutes to see that it doesn't loosen up; you don't want the horse putting a rear hoof in there.

Let's hear what Dave says about this too. Cheers -- Dr. Deb 

 

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 Posted: Thu Aug 12th, 2010 03:57 pm
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrM1lPnJmqI
Manu,
I agree that on that fox trotter that it would have been better if the cinch was a bit further back but saddle fitting is seldom perfect because there are so many variables. If you look at the front leg that is in the back position you will see that the cinch is not all the way forward and it is still allowing for movement.

Yes those horses' with well sprung rib cages are problematic. Mules are really bad in this regard so they used packer cinches.

I took their solution and made it work on todays saddles and I even have English riders using these. Although, I think on English saddles a second pair of billets should be added the back of the saddle and an English version should be made. Cinch problems are generally the result of a saddle fit problem. That would include incompatibility of shapes,improper design of rigging or rigging being used improperly,Improperly designed seat or rider sitting improperly.
David Genadek

Last edited on Thu Aug 12th, 2010 03:59 pm by David Genadek

David Genadek
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 Posted: Thu Aug 12th, 2010 04:07 pm
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Deb,
The western saddle makers are promoting the idea that you need to have the cinch as far forward as you can get it so it is resting on the Sternum. It doesn't seem to me that that is even possible? Maybe the tail end of it.
David Genadek

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 Posted: Thu Aug 12th, 2010 10:22 pm
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Just for kicks I put Deb in a western saddle so we could see what it looks like. She is in the exact same spot she was in in the English saddle which is sitting on the rear or thoracic section of the front spinal limb.

Some will say that you fit English and western saddles differently but that would mean the functional anatomy changes depending on the cloths the rider wears. which of coarse it does not.
David Genadek

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 Posted: Sat Aug 14th, 2010 01:22 am
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Dr.Deb, I'm interested. I have time, interest, some sewing skills and a machine, access to young and old Quarter Horses, Tennessee Walkers,and TB's at the barn where we board. Also I am pretty confident I can get materials. What I lack is knowledge. I'll take a look at Conquerors and my Inner Horseman issues, but can you tell me a bit more about the scope of this project?

Val

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Aug 14th, 2010 06:21 am
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Val, the first thing you'll need to do is go to pp. 270-272, in the chapter on Argentina in "Conquerors", and just have a look at the traditional treeless Gaucho saddle that is pictured there. The one illustration shows how it looks when on the horse, complete with the multiple surcingles and the sheepskins and blankets, and the other shows the "soft tree".

This "soft tree" would normally be made of leather, with the ends of the "hot dogs" capped with heavy carved silver. For our purposes, it will be sufficient I think to make a prototype out of canvas, and just close the ends by ordinary methods of stitching. I think it would be wise to sacrifice "looks" on a prototype to just working the dimensions out. And of course, once the prototype is perfected, it will have to be taken completely apart, so that a pattern can be made from it.

The materials I think you'll need to start with would then be a roll of duck or heavy muslin, or else denim; a set of sailmakers' needles, both straight and curved; extra-duty lisle thread; plus pins, scissors, and a table with space to work on.

We will also have to find something to stuff the "hot dogs" with. Possible materials: horse mane or tail hair, if enough can be found or gathered; perhaps people who read in this Forum would be willing to bag up hair and donate it to this project. Another option would be wool shavings; maybe Dave G. could supply bags of the wool bits that are shaved off when they finish the underskirting on a Western saddle at his shop.

Yet another option would be to experiment with the many different types of foam, and this in many different forms, in other words, would it be better to take a sheet of HD foam and roll it up and then cover the roll with duct tape? Would it be better to take shavings or small bits of foam and stuff them into the "hot dogs"? Some English saddles are stuffed with horse hair or foam in little baggies, I believe as a strategy to prevent the stuffing from shifting too much; perhaps this would be a way to go.

This is all what I meant when I said we would have a lot to learn by actually making a Gaucho saddle. The end product would be a design for the only TRULY treeless saddle that has ever been designed (all the so-called "treeless" saddles that are on the market are actually not treeless, but simply barless). And, at the very least, anyone who makes one would wind up with a fairly authentic outfit that could conceivably be used in a costume class or for exhibition work.

So please continue to write back in, Val, as you start thinking about this. I don't think cost is going to be a factor, but I do expect you'll be spending as many hours with this as Adam spent making his wooden tree! Because the results in both cases need to be, and would be since you guys are good people and good students, really of a professional level. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

David Genadek
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 Posted: Sat Aug 14th, 2010 02:18 pm
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Here are a few pictures of a real gaucho saddle. It was stuffed with Reed which were too hard in our opinion so we took off the end caps and pulled out some of the reed to create more flair.



David Genadek


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