The news today was not good. I decided to try and map Ashke's back on my own. I bought heavy gauge wire, armed myself with a marker, wire cutters, paper and tape measure. First, I molded the wire to his back, then I transferred it to the paper.
This is what the mapping looks like:
A year ago
The website I found that showed how to do the fitting, (Back mapping) recommended taking the wire once it has been molded to your horse's back and testing the saddle directly. You flip the saddle onto it's back and lay the topline molding along the tree. This is supposed to show you if the saddle is rounded too much for the horse's back. In my case, the only part of the tree (between the panels) that touched the mold was dead center. The tree is very rounded. Ashke's back is very flat.
Once you have the topline wire on the tree in the correct position, you put the wire molds into the saddle at the same point along the topline wire that you originally mapped his back. If the wire doesn't really touch or falls into the center of the saddle, then the saddle is too wide. If the wire does sit down where it should because the sides of the wire are too wide, then the saddle is too narrow. With the Trekkerland, the panels flex outward and are designed to spread the weight along the sides and back of the horse. When I flexed the panels enough that the wire molds of Ashke's back fit between the panels, the top of the panels flexed inward and down. This means that every time I tighten the cinch, there is a bar of about four inches wide and the length of the saddle, that pinches up against his spine and protrudes into the muscle of his back. All of the weight in the saddle is going to be along that four inch wide strip. And it explains why the saddle is bridging. There is no flexibility in the lateral movement of the saddle.
Ashke's not over weight. He does have a rounded belly and well-sprung ribs, but that is expected with an Arabian. N and Cassandra have checked him and I can feel his ribs. He is gaining a lot of muscle and his topline looks so much better. I just think he has outgrown this particular saddle. We tried N's Adam Ellis dressage saddle on him because it is a wide gullet and it fit pretty well. We might need to shim the left wither, but other than that, it fit very well. I'm not sure I want a dressage saddle and am not sure I can ride in one, since it forces the thigh downward, which puts a great deal of strain on my back. I am in the process of looking into a custom built one, but am worried that he will have outgrown that one in a year as well.
I'm beginning to think I should just stop doing dressage. Making my horse all strong and muscley. That's enough of that.
Anyone want a Trekkerland, in great shape, with stirrup irons and leathers? Let me know if you do. . . .
I still don't know yet if it can be adjusted. I sent Bev an email detailing all of the above and asking her if the panels can be adjusted. Hopefully, I will hear from her soon.
In the meantime, I tried a saddle of Michelle's today, which was way too tight in the withers. Ashke let me know he was not excited about it being on his back. AT ALL. I ended up riding in it for maybe five minutes than stopped and pulled the saddle. Then I climbed on bareback. Ashke did pretty good although he gets a little touchy about my grabbing on with my knees. We did walking and trotting. At one point one of the other rider's was like, "you don't need a saddle. Look at you go." I tried to tell N we could do a trail ride with me bareback, but she wasn't having it.
When I went to get off I have to use the mounting block. I rode Ashke up to it and he stood waiting. I asked him verbally to move his hip over so I could step off and he did. Then he stood without moving while I got off without hurting my back. For some reason leaning forward and swinging my right leg behind me hurts so bad I cry. I know this because it happened last weekend. Today he stood completely still and let me slide sideways off his bare back and then swing my leg over. Such a good boy. N said you could tell he was concentrating on not moving because he didn't want me to be hurt. Walking back he kept bumping my shoulder with his nose.
He's such an incredible horse. Now, if I could just find a saddle that fit. Tomorrow I am going to try him with N's saddle and see how we both like it. I'll let you know.