Some of you have asked how Chance is doing since I posted a bit about his body soreness a while ago. He is doing great and fully back to work! It turned out that neither of my saddles fit him quite right. He never acted like his back was sore and it seemed to fit him fine, but a few months ago he developed a rather bad attitude towards work. Since sourness is not typical of him, we stuck my saddle on him with no pads and sure enough it was too low on his withers. He has fairly high, long withers and it sat too low on the last two. So, I switched to my older saddle: a Bates with changeable trees. That one seemed to fit his withers better, but clearly something was bothering him since he became body sore after a couple of months in it. The metal tree may have been uncomfortable to him. We gave him a few days off when he developed the soreness; then with all the rain he ended up having over a week off. Since it was cold and the arena was a bit wet when I was finally able to go out to the barn, I lunged him for a couple of days before riding. He was completely sound on the lunge line, but when I got on him he trotted very short and stiff so I switched to a different saddle just to see if it helped and sure enough it did. Immediately. After a couple of trot steps, he relaxed and began moving better. I borrowed the saddle for a couple of weeks before I started shopping just to make sure that it wasn’t a fluke and he has been great! I saddle shopped for about a week and could not find one that fit him, so I ended up buying the one I have been borrowing. It fit him perfectly when we tried it on him with no pads, and he has been going great in it.
I feel so bad that it took so long for me to catch that the saddle was fitting him poorly. After all my years of riding, I should have figured it out sooner. But at least we are now on the right track, and I am so thankful that this turned out to be a completely fixable problem. I will definitely pay better attention to saddle fit with my future horses! Poor fitting saddles can cause so many problems, and – as in our case – it is not always obvious. Each horse is different, so what fits one will not fit another. Chance appears to be built like a warmblood, but he has thoroughbred withers so my saddles that fit my previous horses were not right for him. Also, he has filled out quite a bit and put on a lot of muscle since I have owned him, so that could have something to do with it too. I am just happy that he is sound, and to be riding him again!! Hopefully we will finally make it to a show in the next few weeks!
Thank you all for your advice and comments!