The horse with high withers and a prominent backbone needs a completely different tree with a greater curve, longer points and often a dropped stirrup bar (placed lower on the arch) and a far deeper panel so that the support rests securely on the muscles from the sixth rib.

This way we get the clearance we need in the pommel without the need to make the arch too narrow. Girthing up and the rider’s weight do not then make the saddle look as if it has been “sucked” down into the horse’s back – the greater part of the rider’s weight remains where we want it from the 10th to the 18th rib. As the rider adopts the two point seat for fast work or over a fence, the back of the saddle must stay on the horse’s back. When you see the saddle move off the back when the horse is working or over a fence it is usually because there is insufficient support in the front third of the saddle – all the rider’s weight is taken by the stirrup bar which is directly attached to the points of the saddle and the downward pressure exerted on the horses back can increase to approaching 20 times the pressure when the rider is sitting in the seat of the saddle. – see Pliance tests.

When the horse has hollows behind the withers, there may have been former muscle damage but the TB undoubtedly has a predisposition to these hollows and we have to accommodate them. We see them all the time in the top event horses and when these horses are competition fit they can be quite pronounced – here we often get the problem of torsion behind the wither when the horse is doing fast work and of the saddle moving backwards or causing discomfort against the spine because the well muscled shoulder moves the saddle at every stride – this has been dealt with under Saddle moving backwards

specifics_1_1.jpg A suitable saddle will have full deep cut panels and a wide channel – be careful that the seam under the cantle does not catch the backbone – deep rear gussets and a dropped panel with sufficient flock through the middle of the saddle to give adequate clearance.