Monday, March 10, 2014

Specialized, take two

So after writing all that about my saddle fit? I ended up helping another boarder look at her (new, demo) Specialized that had been fitted this past weekend by a dealer.  I learned a few things from this.

1. I'm no longer convinced my shoulder clearance is adequate, and I'd like to work on that.
2. I have not a clue how I'm going to work on that.
3. It's unclear to me whether the saddle should sit 1-2" behind the scapula.. or 1-2" over the scapula.
4. The shims the dealer had placed were at the bottom of the tree, not the top as I'd always mentally pictured them being.  I assume they were to fill gaps & make the (wide) tree narrower for the (narrowish) horse.
5. Back to #3 - rep had the saddle fitted so that it worked well when over the scapula and avoiding the dip this horse has behind the withers.  Not being accustomed to said dip, I slid the saddle as far back as it seemed to want to go - perhaps too far back for this horse?  There are a lot of steep hills that I ride fairly regularly, and I have concerns that a saddle fitted for a static back on a flat surface might be more inclined to shift back to where it 'wants' to be on a hill.  It did not occur to me to ask that when I was on the phone with the fitter trying to help troubleshoot, but I will bring it up if it gets mentioned again (especially as the other boarder wants to do casual trails).
6. Wide tree + narrowish horse.. had thin Specialized pad and 3/4" fitting pads.  I feel like my 1" Woolback + 1" pads must somehow be wrong - but it's actually working reasonably well.  It just feels like maybe I could do better for her.
7. Good thing about Specialized: very adjustable.  Bad thing:  very adjustable.  Very easy to drive oneself crazy.


  1. Do you have any signs of a badly fitting saddle, like dry spots or white hairs? (I don't know if I'd even worry that much about wavy sweat patterns; on your hills any saddle is going to slide a bit.)

    I have never in my life heard of fitting a saddle so that the weightbearing surfaces are ON the scapulae. I'm tweaking for gaited shoulders, so I give D more room and clearance than I might give a shorter-strided QH or Arab, but still! I don't know if it's wrong, because I don't have much experience, but I do know that I've never seen or heard of a well fitted saddle with the bars on the shoulders.

    Seriously, if it's working pretty well, tweak it some and see if you get improvement - but don't doubt yourself too much! You can drive yourself crazy trying to get perfect-looking hooves and a perfect-looking saddle fit, but if the horse doesn't care...

  2. Neither have I. I think it's dumb. It may be explained because she's giving the shoulder a ton of clearance so it's not really weightbearing? But that seems equally baffling. I have no illusions about that actually working for Fetti and I - going to have to be behind the scapula.

    I can feel when she's short-striding in front because the saddle's riding up on her shoulders. Other than that, she is completely non-responsive. No dry spots (though how much of that is due to the Woolback, I'm not sure), and I *think* no new white hairs, just the same ones I saw last year that I *think* have been there a while. If the whole thing was wavy I wouldn't worry, but it's just in one or two spots, one in particular right behind her shoulder. Honestly, I think I could give her white spots with a saddle and she'd STILL not seem to care. Frustrating!

    Bareback pads don't slide that much on hills, so I end up feeling like it's just my horse/saddle that slides! But I think you are right, and if I rode with more people in more saddles (and less withers) I'd see a lot more of that.

    I really am about 95% happy with it. Luckily it's easy enough to replicate, so I can fiddle with shims and just throw the 1" pads back on if I get frustrated. I'm still not at a point where I feel *obligated* to go to a rep for fitting. It may come up that I have the opportunity to take her, though, in which case I probably will - if other boarder is trailering up there anyway, I may as well try to tag along if timing works out.

  3. Hahaha, your point #7: ALL THE YES IN THE WORLD.

    We've talked about a lot of this on FB, so I won't recap that here. I did run into the idea of saddle-over-scapula while I was investigating options earlier this winter. The treeless and flexible-panel people (at least those I spoke with/read) seem to be okay with the saddle with what seem to me like decidedly weightbearing areas (front of the saddle or the flex panel) covering the scapula on the theory that the area isn't rigid, so the scapula can just slide underneath it. I'm not sure I buy it based on my own (very limited!) experience -- the treeless saddles seemed tight over Tuck's shoulders and the flex panel seemed way too long for his back -- but obviously plenty of people and horses are very happy with those saddles, so I assume I'm missing something and/or just don't have the right shape of horse.

    I think I need to go back and look at the Dixie Specialized pictures again!

  4. My other problem is that Tuck has a small/forward girth groove. We don't have saddle shifting issues, but I do think there's a comfort-level issue. Toying with the idea of trying an anatomic girth if I can find one at a price point that makes sense to me as an experiment.