Saddle Problems

Due to continued use of ill fitting saddles, it is easy to see the advanced stages of muscle wastage: The condition of the horses back (top line) is usually a reflection on how well his saddle fits, this has a direct bearing on his performance, movement, attitude and well being.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMuscle Wastage is usually caused by: Previous injuries, discomfort and or restrictions imposed upon the ridden horse as he tries to cope with an ill-fitting saddle.

If the saddle doesn’t fit the horse: The more you work him, the more pronounced the problems will become.

Some of these symptoms may be: Wasted, damaged, sore muscles; poor muscle development; unnatural hoof growth and wear; restricted, unnatural movement;poor performance or girth shyness.

This can turn an easygoing horse, into one that has an “attitude”, often displaying behavioural problems and training difficulties.

   Graph 3

Graph 2

Graph 1

These graphs are part of our monitoring system which shows what changes have taken place under a Citori Saddle.

Our Citori Saddling System: which has been designed to help you understand the ever changing back of the horse, and how to identify and correct saddle related problems.

  • How to monitor your horse’s back.
  • How to easily identify a natural back shape.
  • How to identify and correct muscle wastage from early through to advanced stages.
  • How to identify and correct muscle damage and soreness.
  • How to recognise the difference between restricted, unnatural and natural movement.
  • Your current saddle and how it fits.                                                                                                      
  • Sweat Marks and what they mean.                                                                                                              
  • Test ride the Citori Saddle and feel the difference.                                                                                          
  • How to improve you horse’s movement, attitude and well being
  • How to redevelop asymmetrical back shapes and muscle wastage through our recovery programmes.

Citori Saddles: with their unique design and fit, allow the horse significant freedom of movement. This enables the horse to be ridden in comfort, usually bringing about improvements in muscle condition, performance, movement, work attitude and behaviour. Most horses under a correctly fitting Citori Saddle usually show a marked improvement, while allowing the rider a natural correct position of balance.



In the beginning the horse seemed to go well: If the saddle doesn’t fit the horse, the more you work him, the more pronounced the problems will become. The continued use of an ill-fitting saddle can cause one aching muscle to develop into severe back pain. This can turn an easygoing horse, into one that has an “attitude” with behavioural and training problems.

Some symptoms are: A reluctance to go forward and laziness to the leg aid. He may speed up, trying to go faster (his natural instinct is to run from unpleasantness). The horse is difficult to work on the bit and to bend .He may be reluctant to canter on one lead, finding lateral movement difficult on one or both reins. Unnatural movement, like hoping into a trot transition, or continually falling in or out on circles are also symptoms. The horse will not start and stop using his back end (i.e.: on the forehand)

His general behaviour can deteriorate: Often displaying an agitated and tense manor when being schooled, (But can be fine out hacking). The horse can have behaviour fits when asked to “school” during dressage. When he jumps, he may dangle a front or hind leg, or keep putting in short strides before take off, or even jumping clumsily, knocking down poles when you know he shouldn’t.   The horse starts to refuse, or has behaviour fits in between the jumps. You may also notice your horse: Stepping into imaginary holes with the hind legs. The horse appears bumble footed and stumbles a lot. He can also find walking down hills difficult “mincing his steps“. During saddling, the horse becomes bad tempered and is often girth shy.

When you train your horse regularly: He will gain muscle until he is fully fit and muscled up. The horses wither and shoulder measurement, taken before and after training, can show up to half an inch difference. His muscles will become “pumped” like those of a body builder or high performance athlete. “When this occurs, it is imperative that it does so with out restriction”

If your saddle is causing restriction: You will, in due course, end up with a horse that has wasted muscle.  This is usually seen around the side of the withers and will show up as hollow depressions. It may also be evident along the top line, neck, back and in the quarters of the horse. The horse may also have one shoulder larger than the other; this usually means the horse has one diagonal stronger than the other. Despite your best efforts, you may also find the horse unable to gain weight and muscle up.

Continued use of an ill-fitting saddle Will in time reshape the back of your horse? What can be overlooked? Horses can out grow current saddles within 2 weeks, depending on the type of schooling and the conditioning the horse receives. Young horses, before they reach maturity, can outgrow several sizes of saddles.

It is important to know how to monitor your horses back

And recognize what changes have taken place.

 The fit of your saddle be it good or bad

Has a direct bearing on your horse’s performance.

You really do need to know the difference…