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Instant Relief: Does it mean the saddle fits now?

By: Galadriel Billington

6:12PM Dec 21, 2006

You can't change the shape of a tree. No matter how much padding you put under it, the tree will still be the same shape.

Pressure points can be compared to a rock in our shoes. No matter how many socks we put on, the rock is still there. It's going to disrupt the surface we walk on and cause discomfort and bruising, no matter how thick the pad between the rock and the bottom of our foot.

Sometimes when you use a specialty pad you see instant relief. This is not because the pressure point is gone, but rather it has been changed slightly. The rock in our shoe is not digging into precisely the same spot, because the padding is so thick or is shaped differently. It's not gone; it's just been moved.

The relief is because the pressure point is no longer digging into the bruising it's already caused. The pressure point itself is still a problem, but compared to the pressure point digging into a bruised area, the discomfort is relieved. The previous pressure point's bruising is still there; it's just not directly under a pressure point anymore. Eventually the pressure point will cause more bruising, and the horse will be uncomfortable again.

This is the reason you can put pads on or change saddles, and a horse will show instant relief, but after a few months or so becomes uncomfortable again. The saddle never did really fit. It was uncomfortable. It was just *less* painful than the previous setup.

Changing out poorly-fitting saddles, or specialty pads, indefinitely just isn't a workable solution, either. Even when your horse is feeling relief, he's still not going to be comfortable in his back. You'll never get his best work out of him while he's uncomfortable. In addition, wearing a badly fitting saddle does permanent damage to the back! Every time you change the direction or location of the pressure points, you simply pile more muscle damage on top of what's already there. For more discussion of muscle damage and what to do about it, see the article on Muscle Damage Caused by Poorly Fitting Saddles. You can also visit the Equine Sports Massage Therapy section of this site. Massage therapy: it's for healing muscles.
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2006 Galadriel Billington. All rights reserved.