Looking at the whole picture and not just the saddle

Busy month at Preloved Saddles. So enjoy working with clients and there beloved horses. I have had some tricky horses to look at this month. What I find interesting with these horses is looking at the whole picture.

For instance I was asked to go out to look at an event horse recently. It had very poor muscle, a sore back where the back of the saddle has worn away all of the hair and severe asymmetry. Now, when I look at this horse my first thoughts are is the asymmetry due to the saddle, the confirmation/shoeing or the way the horse is ridden. My feeling in this case was that the horse needed better nutrition but also needed a saddle that allowed the horse to build the muscle over its back. Its current saddle was really tight on the withers and through the channel. Working with an extremely low budget can make things difficult, but in this case we discussed all of the options and decided to find a really cheap saddle to accommodate the horse for the next three months until its built up over its back and then we can look at getting better saddles needed for the disciplines of eventing. Sometimes it means the owner has to take a few steps back to get a great leap forward in the comfort of the horse. Its ok if the owner is happy to work with you, and maybe stop competing for a while but unfortunately this is not always on the owners agenda!

A met a lovely lady just recently, she was having major behavioural issues with her horse. She was prepared to do whatever necessary to get her horse right. The saddle did not fit and that was not helping - BUT when I asked to see the horse on the lunge the problem was very quickly highlighted. The foot balance was possibly the worst I have every seen. The near fore was caving inward causing the horse to throw the leg outwards and therefore he was lame. The current farrier had been working with this horse for a year so it was quite a serious problem. Of course the poor owner is mortified and happy to wait for her saddle - but what a pity it hasn't been picked up by the farrier sooner!

So what is the whole picture? Things to consider when you look at your horse and what may be going wrong:

 Asymmetry of the shoulder, the chest and hind quarters,
Foot Balance - Farrier
Is the horse stiff and/or crooked - are they sore anywhere?
Body worker - softening and assisting muscles and structure
Training - is the horse pulling against the rein and out of balance. Do you have help with an instructor that can see your horses weakness's and help you make them stronger.
Tack - does the saddle fit and when did you last have it looked at? Horses can change within a four week period - so you should really get your saddle checked at least twice a year -but also is the bridle correct?
Do you use a flash noseband? Does it cover the nostrils obstructing the airways?
Is the bit the right size?
Nutrition - is your horse fed enough and the right type of food for its work load? Or is it fed to much causing strain on its joints?
Do you have a good vet who looks at the whole picture?
Horse Care - Does your horse have good turn-out and are you managing his/her physical and mental wellbeing? To perform well horses need to be kept mentally happy to.
 Are you riding your horse in balance? Are you crooked or really heavy in the saddle?