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Positioning a saddle behind the shoulderblade

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 4:29 pm    Post subject: Positioning a saddle behind the shoulderblade Reply with quote

Question: Is it the *saddle*, or the *tree*, that must be 2 fingers behind the shoulderblade?

In positioning a saddle, you will need to be most concerned with either the "burr" on a Western saddle, or the pad under the "points" on the English saddle. These are the furthest forward part of the weight bearing surface; the front of the tree on the Western saddle, or the front of the panels on the English saddle.

If a Western saddle is well designed, the the skirting that extends forward of the burr should help the shoulderblade to rotate backwards and slide under the burr. If that skirting is pressing hard on the shoulderblade, then it cannot do that, and will be interfering instead. But if the burr "flares" up and away from the back, and the skirting continues that "flare," then it will work just fine, even if the skirting is not behind the shoulderblade.

In a forward-flap English saddle (jumping saddles), the flap of the saddle will extend forward of the pad. The pad itself will be behind the shoulderblade, but the flap further down will overlap. In some saddles this is a real problem, since the flap is not designed the way Western skirts are. It's not directly in front of the tree, and the tree can't influence the flap to flare away. The flap will often interfere with shoulderblade rotation every time that saddle is used. As a result, it is better for a jumping horse to have two saddles: one for jumping, and one for flat schooling or pleasure rides.

This is, by the way, addressed more fully in my book (along with many other common questions):
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