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The tack room

Saddle slipped off when riding!

31 replies

underthehawthorntree · 30/03/2023 11:08

My saddle slipped off to the side when I was trotting and predictably I fell off. Other than the girth not being tight enough is there another reason why this could have happened? It's never happened before and I thought the girth was on the holes it normally is.

I'm also not sure if the slipping thing/me falling spooked her because when I was trying to sort her saddle she kept on walking off or round in a circle even though someone was holding her.

Because she seemed a bit spooked I then walked her back to the yard and she spooked at a tractor!! Her owners (she's a loan pony) said she's normally fine with tractors.

All in all a stressful morning of riding!!

OP posts:
ElizabethBest · 30/03/2023 11:18

girths do stretch from repeat use so you need to go by how tight the band feels, not which hole it’s on. If she was crabbing when you were tacking up, the saddle may not have been positioned correctly in the first place?

Just as you might be a bit shaken from a fall, it’s not entirely unexpected the pony is either.

underthehawthorntree · 30/03/2023 11:22

Perhaps it wasn't positioned correctly from the start you're right. She's got quite a long back and low withers if that makes sense so im not always 100% sure im positioning it correctly...she's a connie x cob and I often think the saddle and girth look a bit far back on her but because she's a bit fat at the moment and has low withers it's hard to know how to pull it forwards. Any ideas?

OP posts:
underthehawthorntree · 30/03/2023 11:23

I don't want to share a photo as she's not my pony to share photos of!

OP posts:
Maverickess · 30/03/2023 11:36

Do you have a breast girth/plate? They help hold the saddle in position and as pp said, you need to physically check the girth is tight enough rather than rely on what hole it's on, horses can lose/gain weight and that's often the first indication of small changes, and leather straps and girths stretch over time.

As for moving around when you were changing the saddle after it slipped, it was likely uncomfortable in the position it slipped to and horses will move and fidget when that happens, as well as being unsettled.

And many horses when upset by something else will start to react to things they don't normally, like tractors.

I had a flat backed horse with low wither and it was worse when he was fat, he had chunky shoulders and the fat pad behind them pushed the saddle back during movement - I'd be checking the fit of the saddle, I needed an adjustable saddle for my horse as he changed shape year round and what fit in winter didn't in summer. But when I first got him, I had to be very careful going faster and around corners because he was basically barrell shaped and everything would slip to a certain degree.

Other things to keep in mind is are your stirrups level and do you unknowingly lean to one side? Drop one hip and shoulder effectively and 'lean' more weight into one stirrup? The horse will likely lean away from that as it's less comfortable and that can cause a total sideways dismount from a sliding saddle!

BlueChampagne · 30/03/2023 11:40

She might have lost a bit of weight, or some of her winter coat? She could have puffed out when you did up the girth? I wouldn't rely on 'the usual holes', assess it carefully every time, both before mounting and afterwards. Can you fit a flat hand behind it?

underthehawthorntree · 30/03/2023 11:47

Sorry I do always check the feel of the girth too obviously not just rely on the usual holes (I shouldn't have said that). I wonder if the girth had slipped forward after I got on and so it became more sloppy

OP posts:
underthehawthorntree · 30/03/2023 11:48

Maverickess · 30/03/2023 11:36

Do you have a breast girth/plate? They help hold the saddle in position and as pp said, you need to physically check the girth is tight enough rather than rely on what hole it's on, horses can lose/gain weight and that's often the first indication of small changes, and leather straps and girths stretch over time.

As for moving around when you were changing the saddle after it slipped, it was likely uncomfortable in the position it slipped to and horses will move and fidget when that happens, as well as being unsettled.

And many horses when upset by something else will start to react to things they don't normally, like tractors.

I had a flat backed horse with low wither and it was worse when he was fat, he had chunky shoulders and the fat pad behind them pushed the saddle back during movement - I'd be checking the fit of the saddle, I needed an adjustable saddle for my horse as he changed shape year round and what fit in winter didn't in summer. But when I first got him, I had to be very careful going faster and around corners because he was basically barrell shaped and everything would slip to a certain degree.

Other things to keep in mind is are your stirrups level and do you unknowingly lean to one side? Drop one hip and shoulder effectively and 'lean' more weight into one stirrup? The horse will likely lean away from that as it's less comfortable and that can cause a total sideways dismount from a sliding saddle!

This is excellent advice thank you.

Yes she has a breastplate as well. Problem is she's not my pony (she's part loan) so I'm a bit reluctant to spend money on saddle fitters and new saddles etc and I also don't want to overstep the mark with her owners by suggesting she's wearing poorly fitting tack.

OP posts:
Stugs · 30/03/2023 11:49

Always check after you got on as they can puff out while being girthed. Also check the side of the girth rather than the bit immediately under tummy

Stugs · 30/03/2023 11:50

underthehawthorntree · 30/03/2023 11:48

This is excellent advice thank you.

Yes she has a breastplate as well. Problem is she's not my pony (she's part loan) so I'm a bit reluctant to spend money on saddle fitters and new saddles etc and I also don't want to overstep the mark with her owners by suggesting she's wearing poorly fitting tack.

I always paid saddle fitters for any loan pony that I had.

underthehawthorntree · 30/03/2023 12:00

@Stugs do you find the owners are generally ok with that? I'm just a bit worried they might take offence!

I'm already discovering one of the downsides of loaning rather than owning- I'm itching to do things my own way but I'm also trying to be respectful of the owners.

OP posts:
Stugs · 30/03/2023 12:34

Why would they? I paid for a check and reflock. I always told the saddle fitter that I wasn't in the market for a new saddle but once I did actually buy a new saddle. Offered it to the owner when horse went back but they didn't want to buy it off me so I sent the horse back with original saddle and kept the other one and eventually sold on ebay.

I think if you've got the horse on loan for a while it's worth making sure tack fits both you and horse.

Lastqueenofscotland2 · 30/03/2023 12:52

Assuming you have the horse on share/part loan rather than full loans?
I personally wouldn’t be happy with my sharer getting their own saddle fitter in as loads are bloody terrible. I’d be happy for them to raise a potential issue with the saddle with me and get a saddle fitter who I trust out. And assuming you are a sharer not a full loaner I’d not be spending hundreds, potentially thousands on a saddle.

If you think the saddle is too far back it probably is. Can you take a picture not showing the horse of where it fits?
A saddle that fits will not just swing round

Pleasedontdothat · 30/03/2023 13:00

Is this a full loan or a couple of days a week share arrangement? When my daughter had a horse on full loan we were responsible for ensuring tack etc fitted but anything we’d bought would have stayed with us at the end of the loan rather than go back with the pony.

underthehawthorntree · 30/03/2023 13:57

Just a part loan. I'll spend more time tacking up when I go again to ride next week (only doing jobs later today) and try to share a photo. I think the tack might also need a good clean so I might do that too.

OP posts:
maxelly · 30/03/2023 14:24

Yes I think the PP talking about paying for a saddle fitting must have thought you had her on full loan. Every part loan/share arrangement I've been involved in the sharer rides the horse in its normal tack, same as the owners, and any changes to things like bitting, nose band and certainly changing the saddle would need to be discussed with the owner first, you wouldn't just go off and buy/fit your own saddle for sure.

OP it was probably a combination of things, girth maybe a little loose, saddle potentially not quite fitting properly but also it can just happen even in a well fitting saddle, if she did a bit of a funny move, a sideways jump or buck maybe, that can cause the saddle to slip a bit, it's a vicious circle because the rider then becomes unbalanced, this causes the saddle to slip more and so on and so on.

It's not surprising at all to me that she was spooky and nervous afterwards, you basically don't really know what caused the fall so she certainly doesn't, and a saddle slipping and flapping around their belly with stirrups flying around etc is very scary for any horse, anything wrapped or flapping around their flanks is particularly triggering for them, possibly it triggers some kind of primeval instinct about being chased and clawed or grabbed at by a predator. I doubt she'll have understood this new sensation was 'just' her normal saddle that she wears everyday and doesn't hurt her, you have to remember horses do not have a rational/logical response to fear, overriding everything else is the flight instinct so they just want to get away, but because the saddle is still strapped to them actually the more they run away the worse the flapping and slipping becomes, so the more they panic (another vicious circle). But don't worry, sounds like you did the right thing in catching and soothing her and the benefit of the fact that horses are very silly and can be frightened by a normal object or sensation in an unusual place is they don't then usually connect that normal object with fear and pain when it goes back to its normal function. So I doubt she'll be reactive to her saddle or anything, but keep a close eye on her, maybe enlist help on the ground just for your next ride, and def get the owners or someone experienced to check the saddle positioning for you?

blobby10 · 30/03/2023 14:29

I rode for years and would always tighten the girth once I was on the horse - my weight pressing down on the saddle used to loosen the girth one or two holes . In fact, I checked and tightened three times in all!!! My little darling of a horse always blew himself out so I had to do the girth up then walk him round then do it up a bit more then get on and do the final tighten!

Stugs · 30/03/2023 14:40

Yes I assumed full loan.

But, If I shared and thought the saddle didn't fit I'd say. Nothing worse than riding in a poorly fitting saddle.

snowqu33n · 30/03/2023 14:40

Horse is probably fat. Native breeds and cobs are “good doers”.
How flat is the horse’s back in relation to the spine? Do a fat scoring exercise to check.
Is the horse getting a lot of spring grass?
You might want to mention to the owners about keeping the weight down as it’ll be bad for its feet to come out of winter overweight and then eat rich grass.
If she’s on part loan they may not have had time to give her enough exercise.

Spring grass for horses tends to turn even the calmest souls into prancing, snorting, wide-eyed beasts.

underthehawthorntree · 30/03/2023 14:55

snowqu33n · 30/03/2023 14:40

Horse is probably fat. Native breeds and cobs are “good doers”.
How flat is the horse’s back in relation to the spine? Do a fat scoring exercise to check.
Is the horse getting a lot of spring grass?
You might want to mention to the owners about keeping the weight down as it’ll be bad for its feet to come out of winter overweight and then eat rich grass.
If she’s on part loan they may not have had time to give her enough exercise.

Spring grass for horses tends to turn even the calmest souls into prancing, snorting, wide-eyed beasts.

You're right- She's on loan to me specifically to give her some more exercise! they know she's fat and they don't have enough time to exercise her a few times a week! They are working with the vet to manage her weight (soaked hay and no hard feed and only turned out half the day). Hopefully losing weight will help her tack feel better.

OP posts:
underthehawthorntree · 30/03/2023 14:58

maxelly · 30/03/2023 14:24

Yes I think the PP talking about paying for a saddle fitting must have thought you had her on full loan. Every part loan/share arrangement I've been involved in the sharer rides the horse in its normal tack, same as the owners, and any changes to things like bitting, nose band and certainly changing the saddle would need to be discussed with the owner first, you wouldn't just go off and buy/fit your own saddle for sure.

OP it was probably a combination of things, girth maybe a little loose, saddle potentially not quite fitting properly but also it can just happen even in a well fitting saddle, if she did a bit of a funny move, a sideways jump or buck maybe, that can cause the saddle to slip a bit, it's a vicious circle because the rider then becomes unbalanced, this causes the saddle to slip more and so on and so on.

It's not surprising at all to me that she was spooky and nervous afterwards, you basically don't really know what caused the fall so she certainly doesn't, and a saddle slipping and flapping around their belly with stirrups flying around etc is very scary for any horse, anything wrapped or flapping around their flanks is particularly triggering for them, possibly it triggers some kind of primeval instinct about being chased and clawed or grabbed at by a predator. I doubt she'll have understood this new sensation was 'just' her normal saddle that she wears everyday and doesn't hurt her, you have to remember horses do not have a rational/logical response to fear, overriding everything else is the flight instinct so they just want to get away, but because the saddle is still strapped to them actually the more they run away the worse the flapping and slipping becomes, so the more they panic (another vicious circle). But don't worry, sounds like you did the right thing in catching and soothing her and the benefit of the fact that horses are very silly and can be frightened by a normal object or sensation in an unusual place is they don't then usually connect that normal object with fear and pain when it goes back to its normal function. So I doubt she'll be reactive to her saddle or anything, but keep a close eye on her, maybe enlist help on the ground just for your next ride, and def get the owners or someone experienced to check the saddle positioning for you?

That's a very good point and a great way to explain it. Us faffing with her saddle and her girth was clearly bothering her so since we weren't far from home I walked her back rather than trying to get her to calm down and sort her tack and jumping on without a block. That's when she saw the tractor which she really didn't like (although nothing too awful she just clearly wasn't happy and was fidgeting/jumpy). I took her into a lay-by to let the tractor pass so that she wouldn't have to have it follow her all the way home. She's normally good as gold. Poor thing.

OP posts:
maddy68 · 30/03/2023 16:47

Many horses breathe in when you tighten the girth so always do a double check

Ariela · 30/03/2023 17:37

Agree with @maxelly get someone knowledgeable (which may or may not be the horse's owner) to show you exactly how to fit the saddle for the horse's comfort/your confidence. Ditto bridle/bit at the same time.

Floralnomad · 31/03/2023 20:46

Only going out for half a day won’t help her lose weight , she needs moving more . That aside I agree with a pp that you should redo / check the girth after a few minutes in the saddle .

overitunderit · 31/03/2023 22:43

Floralnomad · 31/03/2023 20:46

Only going out for half a day won’t help her lose weight , she needs moving more . That aside I agree with a pp that you should redo / check the girth after a few minutes in the saddle .

What do you mean half a day? She's being ridden 4 times a week at least now. I would have thought that would be a good amount to help her lose weight when she's been out of work?

Pleasedontdothat · 01/04/2023 07:30

overitunderit · 31/03/2023 22:43

What do you mean half a day? She's being ridden 4 times a week at least now. I would have thought that would be a good amount to help her lose weight when she's been out of work?

only being turned out for half a day means she’s standing still for nearly 20 hours a day - which tends not to do much for the waistline. I’m lucky enough to have mine at home out 24/7 - every time I look at them they’re in a different part of the field - they’re pretty much constantly moving (and still a bit chubbier than I would like them to be 😳)

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