We are looking at 1 y.o QH for my hubby for trail riding. He is small-ish (15hh, maybe), and has a bit of a low back, I wouldn't say he is sway backed, but lower than my hubby's mare (who we lost last fall). We have a semi-custom saddle made for her - she was ROUND, percheron QH cross.
So today I took him to my trainers to have a peek, we agreed the saddle didn't fit, but they had a cut back western pad they had made for another horse, and it seemed like maybe it would do the trick.
I ride english, and my saddle fits him fine, and in all honesty, I will probably be riding him more, the occasional trail ride for hubby. I just don't really want to have to get another saddle, as the one we have is less than a year old...
What have you all done to make a less than perfect fit better...thank you so much.
Ummm-I REALLY hope that is a typo. A 1 y.o.? Nope, not ready for trail riding...Though if he's already broke that could explain the low back...
As for your question, I'd be careful (assuming this is a more mature horse). *I* have never had much luck using pads to make a saddle fit better. You can always try the white towel trick (put a white saddle cloth/towel against the horse, ride and see whether or not the "dirty" marks are even).
Be sure to do a rope check, too. That's the one where you lay a rope (at least a 1/2") and, after saddling and mounting, see if the rope will slide out of the gullet channel. If not, you are likely putting too much pressure on the spine.
The "towel and rope" has merit. It's a good way to get a "first look" at fit.
Remember that when a horse moves it changes shape. This means that a saddle that fits perfectly at rest will, by definition, be imperfect in motion. So, where do you want the best fit: standing still or moving?
The pad is important, as it (along with any padding, flocking, etc. on the saddle) helps to accommodate the movement between the horse's back and the rider's butt. This is particularly true with a rigid tree saddle, but true even with a so-called "treeless saddle."
Pads do not do well as "fillers" for something that truly doesn't fit the horse.
What use is planed for the horse? Endurance riding or cutting or just weekend trail riding? It makes a difference. As long as the saddle accommodates the horse's motion (i.e., does not sore up the back) you're likely OK for most pleasure use. For more athletic pursuits you'll likely need a "closer fit."