Most common on the broad flat back with ill defined withers and shoulder, forward girth line or where the horse is particularly downhill and on the forehand.

In many cases the above problem occurs when an incorrect saddle is put on horses/ponies with the conformation associated with arabs and ponies or any  horse with little definition of the withers ,flat backed, forward girth line or croup high.

Often a saddle with a flatter tree, longer points that can get some purchase behind the wither will work. It may need to be flocked quite close to the horse and in some cases the use of a point strap will assist.

The tree needs to be fitted very carefully for this conformation – a flatter tree with flatter rails which is wide enough at the top of the arch to let out across the withers and with long enough points to get some purchase either side of the wither. Otherwise the saddle will sit too far off the back, and the saddle will slip forwards or to one side.

A wider gullet in the saddle that fits a horse with higher withers rarely works. If the fit looks right across the front, the back of the saddle will be off the horse’s back, causing all the rider’s weight to be taken across the points and the stirrup bars. Likewise, if the rails of the tree are at too great an angle, excess pressure will be taken on the outside edge of the rail. This can happen however flat the panel looks.

When the horse/pony is much narrower just behind the elbow, the usual position of the girth straps goes over a wider part of the belly and there is little or nothing to stop the saddle inching forward. This can put the rider’s safety in jeopardy and will definitely cause damage to the shoulder and the wither. One solution is the use of a point strap, this is a girth strap taken directly above the point of the saddle and allows the girth to be anchored in the narrower part just behind the elbow and as such the saddle cannot move forward.

The down side of this action is that extra pressure is taken over the front of the saddle and the back of the saddle may be destabilized – it is then possible to counterbalance this by putting the back girth strap further back.

In some cases, particularly with ponies, it is a question of conformation and a point strap will always have to be used. However, with horses it can be associated with overweight and or that the horse has not been working correctly through its back – the abdominal muscles will not tighten and strengthen until the horse is working in a correct outline but when this happens, it is often possible to cease using the point strap and take the girthing arrangement further back. This has the benefit of taking some of the extra pressure away from the points of the tree.

saddle_could_move_forward.jpg In this photo the saddle is fitted correctly, but note how easy it would be for the saddle to move forward in  this movement, landing over a fence or riding downhill
saddle_slipping_forwards_2.jpg This is an inappropriate saddle which is siting right on top of the wither and slipping across the shoulder.  This can damage the horse considerably and it means that the rider cannot use herself in an effective way.