Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting The Right Fit

Obviously no clinic is complete without at least one question being asked about saddle fit, pads, bits...etc, etc...

Barrel racers are particularly keen on these issues as our tack is absolutely vital. In the race against the clock, the fact is, the wrong or ill-fitting tack can cost us. Oh yea...and then there is the consideration of the horse. ;-)

Early in the year, I was running Moon in that beautiful new Cactus All-Around that I bought in January. That saddle fits all of my horses just wonderfully and I love riding it. However, once Moon started getting some speed up, I felt like he was starting to set me out the back. So I tried that Sharon Camarillo I had picked up cheap. I felt good in that saddle, but even with the new Tod Sloan pad I bought, it was just a bit to snug over Moon's shoulders, so I switched to using this saddle...
I had bought this saddle specifically for Moon because it has an 8 inch gullet. I ran him in it a couple of times...but to be honest, I was hoping to find something that looked...uummm...not so cheap or old looking.

Yes, I am a bit vain. I like a nice, quality looking saddle and this isn't exactly it.

However...

As cheap as it looks, it DOES fit Moon...and it DOES fit me...

So there ya go. This is what I ride/run him in.

I was surprised when Ed was checking saddle fits on everyone's horses that he said he thought it was a nice little saddle. In fact it is made much more correct than many of the fancy saddles that the other girls were riding.

Here is why...Look at where the D ring is placed on the majority of new barrel saddles...

Trace a line from the front of the D ring up to the swell. See how the front of the D ring is actually in front of the swell? Ed says no wonder so many saddles slide back or cause fit issues. The D ring needs to sit directly above where your girth lays. If you don't want your saddle to move backward (or possibly cause sores due to rubbing), the D needs to sit farther back and should be placed so that the front of it is toward the back of the swell, like my el cheapo saddle does...
*I* like a back cinch on my saddles because I think it helps keep the back of the saddle down on the horse's back and lessens movement. This saddle did not come with flank straps (which is common for barrel saddles, particularly these round skirted ones.), so I bought some and put them on myself. I liked this style simply because they are easily removed if I want to use them on a different saddle.

I was never been a fan of the round skirt barrel saddles, but I will say, I agree with Ed that the most important thing is freeing up those hips and these saddles with little tiny skirts do that and they are lighter. I don't think my el cheapo saddle will be going anywhere soon. LOL

The pad I am using on Moon in these photos is too big. Ed does not want anything hitting a horse's hips. Saddle or pad. Normally, I use the 3/4th's of an inch thick, 30X28 Tod Sloan barrel pad I bought earlier this year. That fits under this saddle perfectly and completely frees up Moon's hips. I had just started using the thicker pad because I wanted extra padding on Moon's back because of the way he was acting.

I know we have all had this discussion before...Orthopedic pads!

Even though, I have a couple of saddles that fit Moon across the shoulders, I still have a bit of a problem with them sliding back. So after much reading/research, I went ahead and spent a heafty chunk on this Sharon Camarillo ortho pad...
It is supposed to fill in that area behind the shoulders, which is apparently a really common issue on barrel horses, to support the saddle and prevent the saddle from wanting to slide back to that dip. The problem is and probably always has been, that these speed horses we are breeding for have a wide shoulder and a narrower ribcage. So when you have a saddle that is wide enough to lay properly over the shoulder, there is always going to be that 'dip' behind the shoulder that the saddle wants to slide into. Always make sure the saddle is wide enough for the shoulders and then find the right kind of Ortho pad to support that area to prevent the saddle from wanting to slide back.

Let me tell you...the SC pad was a total waste of money! Not only is there a huge 'cut' over the wither area of the pad, which allows it to sag when you are riding it, the pads are h.u.g.e and overlay the shoulder!!!

Compare that pad to the pad that Ed makes...
Luckily one of the girls had an Ed Wright Ortho pad, because Ed does not actively try to sell any of his 'stuff'. He doesn't bring anything with him. I tried this pad on Moon and the little built up area fits perfectly behind the shoulder and fills in that gap. My saddle didn't slide even without the cinches being done up.

(Sigh)...That was an expensive lesson.

Anyone interested in a Sharon Camarillo Ortho pad? I'll make you a deal. ;-)


18 comments:

Laura said...

Oh - don't get me started on "ortho" pads! lol I spent a small fortune trying different ones for Rusty. What a pain in the butt that stuff is.

Glad one of Ed's seems to work - at least you found a solution to the issue!

Funder said...

Cool info. Why do you like big skirts? I've never figured out what the point of square skirts is.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Coming from a ranching/roping family...you just get used to the bigger fenders and to be honest, my mom and step-dad always believed that the big skirts helped to dissipate pressure on the spine. Of course, NOW that seems like silly reasoning, but if you are a roper, it's true that you want more 'saddle' to help spread out the pressure that gets applied when you dally up.

Ed was telling us that his wife just bought a dressage saddle and he thought that was the perfect thing to be running barrels in...except for the missing horn that so many of us need. ;-)

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Skirts...not fenders. oops!

Funder said...

Ahhh, so true, I bet skirts really do help with roping.

They also make traditional saddlebags hang better, but who uses those things anymore?

fernvalley01 said...

Intersting , I have sat in a couple barrel saddles over the years , and the issue wit the D ring makes perfect sense , Also I have sat in a couple "speciffically designed for " whatever task roping cutting ... and I tell ya , KISS(Keep it simple sweetie!!! I find the ones that have the stirrup set ahead or back or whatever ,drive me NUTS .I have a simple all round saddle that I use, working cows, climbing hills(mountains ) and plain old farting around Fits me , fits my horse. We pick up speed in it , we are good , tight corners , all good . uphill downhill, no sweat, and I feel safe . I suspect I would like your "not pretty saddle just fine"
looks like a good respectable working saddle . That all said I don't do performance so I could be full of crap!

fernvalley01 said...

should mention what got me on that tangent is ,look where the stirrups are set on the "new one"as opposed to your saddle I would be fighting that leg set the whole way , feeling like I was gonna tip over

Cut-N-Jump said...

Funny thing on those 'Ortho pads', throw it on CL or a similar classified website and you may have somebody beating down your door to get their hands on it.

As far as the 'look' of a saddle goes, it's kind of like the color of a horse. Spots or lack of don't make them run any faster and as you know- price dosn't make the saddle fit any better either.

My old western saddle was a hell of a deal, fits me, fits my horses (some of them) and has held together all these years with minimal repairs. I'll hang onto it until I can find something just as worthy and reliable to replace it with. Might take me a while.

I like Ed's style. He's not there to push a load of crap onto anyone.

cdncowgirl said...

I have that Ed pad!! Its the one I was telling you about back when you were looking for an ortho pad.

Did Ed give you guys the bling talk "I hate bling" "barrel racers think they need bling to go fast" lol

Oh and did Ed tell you to cut that pad so it would fit better? A girl at our clinic had a big square pad & round skirt saddle, that was his solution.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

No comments about 'bling' this time. LOL...and there was definitely some bling there. ;-)

He did tell me I could probably 'fix' the Sharon Camarillo pad by cutting the pads off, cutting them to the proper shape, resewing them on and then having a support piece sewn on the front. I'm thinking not-so-much. I'll just invest in one of Ed's pads.

I do remember you telling me about his pad, but I have yet to find an actual picture of it online, so I didn't really realize what you were saying.

Yea and Ed probably knew I wouldn't be cutting up the new 5-Star that Spooks won for me this year. LOL

Breathe said...

That cheapo looks like my big horn.

Funny how sometimes the most expensive stuff is really not worth it, right?

I need a felt pad, but my boy is short backed. I'm going to be on the lookout...

Crystal said...

Sounds like you learned a lot at this clinic. Sometimes cheap is better when it works.

cdncowgirl said...

Not sure if you know you can order Ed's pad online:
http://www.edandmartha.com/bitsnew2.htm

Forgot to tell you, my fancypants new saddle that I got for Applejack... the one that seemed to fit then when I asked for speed it was obvious it didn't. Ya, Ed looked at it, the f'n TREE is CROOKED!!

Shirley said...

Fancy isn't always best; but a good fitting saddle sure is.
The guy who worked Chickory for me, and galled her, has a saddle that has the cinch set too far forward. I made him use one of my saddles, and the difference is exactly like you pointed out in your photos.

kestrel said...

A silly trick that I use a bunch...get a big can of baby powder, powder the horse's back, sit saddle straight down on horse, lift off and check where, on the fleece, the baby powder sticks. I use carpet padding and stick on velcro to make shims if I have a hollow spot. Older horses usually need the bridge area built up, otherwise the saddle hits withers and loin only and doesn't distribute weight. (why do orthopedic pads never address that issue? Lift pads just don't put the saddle weight where the horse can carry it!) Some horses are built crooked also, and may need one side shimmed for a while until they rebuild the muscle.

Vaquerogirl said...

I don't run barrels but all the info you posted is good info no matter what or how or how fast you ride 'em. I use a CSI pad on my horses, and I like them just fine. They aren't too expensive, as a matter of fact the last one I bought looks almost like the one you show that Ed made.
Good post!

Steph said...

I've just stumbled across your blog and I love it! So entertaining and helpful, I'm glad I google searched barrel racing blogs :) Will definitly keep coming back! Mine isn't nearly so informative or entertaining but it has pictures of my beautiful horse who I miss so much... Can't wait to get home and get back into rodeos again

Danielle Michelle said...

I didn't know that about the D rings. My el cheapo saddle has that too! I love that saddle despite the fact it isn't pretty. And imagine that! It is built correctly! I love finding out great new info!