|PROPER BRIDGING FOR GOOD FIT WHEN RIDING!
|WITHOUT THIS SPACE YOU'LL NEED BALANCE SHIMS FRONT & REAR!
|BACK IS UP MORE AS REAR END IS ENGAGED !
|GUT TIGHTENED AND CONTACT IS PROVIDED VIA HORSE!
I get call and emails every day: "My
saddle is BRIDGING! My Vet, Trainer, and/or Chiropractor looked at my saddle on my horse and said, it's Bridging. They
showed me where there's space at the low point of the back under my saddle. They said my horse is sore in
the withers and loin, and I have Bridging! When I take off my pad it's dirty on the ends, but clean
in the center! I have Bridging!"
Are you applying the simple logic above in accessing your saddle problems?
If you are running out to have your saddle RE-FLOCKED, or buying a Pad with Shims in the Center, or GETTING A NEW SADDLE THAT
FITS DOWN INTO THE CENTER BACK?...DON'T.
NONE OF THE ABOVE ARE
EXAMPLES OF "BRIDGING"!
What I'm going to tell you about saddles is that most of todays beliefs about saddling are INCORRECT. call
it "GROUP THINK" if you'd like! The logical and simple answer everyone in the industry is
using must be the way it is?Because of "GROUP
THINK": Saddlefitting Gadgets are sold with the ASSUMPTION THAT: the horse's back is a stationary
object. Saddles are often sold and fitted using the same philosophy. It is as if; the blind are all feeling
the stationary horse: by using computer sensor pads, cookie dough blankets, back/tree gauges, and sample trees
for you to set on your horse. What else is there for you to do IF YOUR HORSE IS SORE?
None of these assumptions or gadgets are based
on history, physics, NOR the moving horse with rider and saddle ON!, nor the ULTIMATE! "SIMPLY
PALPATING THE HORSE TO SEE IF HE IS SORE, WHERE, TO WHAT DEGREE AND HOW LONG." I demonstrated palpating
techniques and deep pressure massage for the "sore horse clinics" I did at: Equine Fairs, for groups of
Veterinarians in Europe, at two U.S. University's Veterinary Equine Sciences Departments, and privately
sponsored clinics in the U.S., Canada, and four European Countries. I participated in these during the late 1980's
and 90's. I was also the first to do ads on saddling problems, "SADDLE FIT" clinics, saddling booklets
published by the hundreds of thousands, and I was the first to demand recognition of the fact that saddles were inherently
harmful to horses. I fought the industry at a very high price.
Before the above, a young lady named Lisa Dawes and myself had first: ridden horseback for 3,000 miles thru 6 western
states in 1982 with successful saddling, shoeing, and packing 3 of the 5 horses. This was Non-stop, no support vehicles,
living outdoors for 8 months with these animals as our only transportation. They came home in better shape than they started
in. We rode, never did we get off and lead the horses.
Not one lost shoe, no lameness, and all saddling problems
fixed in-route was our claim to success. I was made a member of the American Farrier's Association a year after this trip.
I then started the world's largest custom saddlery with a patented system for protecting the horse. Still disillusionsed
with my FLEX PANEL SYSTEM, after building 25,000 English & Western custom saddles and my own saddletree company over 17years,
I shut down the OrthoFlex Saddle Company Inc. in 2001. (It wasn't worth a chapter 11 Re-organization Bankruptcy)
With my 23 years of experience, I started development of a new system to make saddles work "for the horse" in
2003. This system was seperate of a saddle, replaced the saddlepad, and was designed to work with any saddletree
on any horse.
|THIS Q/H NEEDS MORE GAP YET, FOR THE BACK TO LIFT.
|WHEN RIDING, THE BACK COMES UP 1.5 TO 2.5 INCHES!
|JUST THE GUT TIGHTENING & THE BACK IS UP !
|THIS HORSE'S BACK COMES UP MORE AS SPEED INCREASES!
Incorrectly, I made some of the assumptions
given as examples above in the 1st 10 years of my quest to fix the problems of saddling "for the horse".
One of the things I learned in this journey is:
The best looking FIT is the worst case scenario for the horse. Where-as, the worst
looking FIT of a hundred year old saddle is much better for the horse than what's out there today. In doing SORE HORSE CLINICS in the 80's and later, I always asked my audience
to please remove the word "FIT" from their vocabulary and replace it with "WORK" when speaking of horse
and saddles at the same time. I disliked the term Saddle-Fit Clinic but that's what people understood
and it was hard to get away from.
it possible to fit a horse with a saddle?
and there are people out there that try to do this for a living! After
all my experience, I will state the following:
only way to fit a western saddle to A HORSE, is to ride the bare tree ON THE HORSE TO BE FITTED".
This must be done with 1/2" to 3/4" of felt cut & glued to
bars to simulate later leather & fleece of a finished saddle. There also should be rigging and stirrup straps
attached and the shaped ground seat installed on this tree you are to ride. After riding you do the following to get the best results, viewing each change one at a time while riding:
1) Adjust Rigging position to hold the saddle where desired
on the horse, JUST BACK OF THE SHOUDLERS.
2) Shape the ground seat to balance the rider on this given horse. This must be checked while riding. It changes
completely because of the horse's back lifting or rounding when carrying the rider.
3) Shape the seat and adjust stirrup mounting position
for rider comfort, leather shim the bars to give more even pressures front to rear (that you can only observe when riding).
4) Cut to shape
and glue felt on the bars. It must equal the thickness of your intended pad plus the skirt's leather thickness in
finished saddle. "If this isn't done right at this time, the finished thicker skirts/padding.. etc. changes
the balance of the ground seat that you worked on earlier.
you see problems with extreme pressure to the horse that you can view while riding or from small dry spots after, this is
the time to re-shape the bars with a shims material such as leather, or the equivalent, to make the shape work for the horse.
These 4 steps are what I did for my 3,000 mile trip saddle to work. It worked well enough to not have a white
hair on my black horse after 8 months of continual riding. (I also included making the skirts a full 5/8ths inch thick
and mounting them with the Tie strings). That let them swivel to change angle as the hose moved.) I later skived
those skirts thin where they contacted the gullet of the fork. That slopped the pressure line hurting my horse that I
didn't find until 800 miles of riding.
5) If you can't do the above sucessfully for rider and
horse to be fitted, then you get a different tree that you think will be better and start the process
all over again.
No one has made the traditional saddle work for the horse! I
base this claim on studying 1400 years of history and 26 years of the following experience. Making and modifying 4 saddles for a 3000 mile horseback trek with 5 horses in 1982. Designing the
Ortho-Flex systems and building the company into a $6 Million a year business. All of this was about trying to make saddles
"WORK". for the horse. After 3 saddle patents & 25,000 saddles, I finally gave up on the Flex Panel system
& saddle in 2001. I went about designing a device separate of the saddle to make any saddle work on any horse or
Mule. I now build and market the result; a device called "The CorrecTOR".
Now let's start with the MAJOR MISCONCEPTIONS
|Riders see this and think they have BRIDGING? NO..
| BACK UP! MOVEMENT ON ENDS DROPPING WITH PRESSURE IN FRONT, TIMBERLINE PANELS DID THIS!
|GAITED HORSE>BACK UP SADDLE ROCKING, FRICTION !
|HORSE BECOMES PISSY AFTER FEW DAYS OF THIS. FLEX PANELS CAUSE IT TOO!
|THIS ROCKING TREE WILL BE TWICE AS BAD WHEN RIDING
|ORTHO TREES ARE DESIGNED TO ALLOW ROOM FOR PANELS TO MOVE, COPIED BY TREEMAKERS AS GAITED TREES, ETC
1) Bridging is the most common
of these and is based on having a dry middle of the horse's back while the very front and rear area of the animal are
sweated up and sensitive to the touch. Often a roaning of white in the wither / shoulder area shows up later on. Simple
logic tells the Rider that they have "too much Pressure" front and rear and not enough contact
in the middle of the back. They think their saddle is BRIDGING! The real problem is just the opposite.
A DRY AREA IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BACK IS NOT LACK OF CONTACT!
Riders and saddlers look at the saddle on the horse while standing and see this pressure at the front of the bars. With the
rider aboard it shows pressure at front and rear of the tree bars (as it should). When the horse starts to walk, with the
rider onboard, the back comes up 1 to 2 inches in the middle and the contact is then transferred to the middle of the back.
With most of today's saddles,
the bars are quite curved and/or flared, thus causing a "Rocking Chair' effect when riding the horse.
You should see sweat at the front and rear of the horse or pad after riding for short periods. These are the areas of
most movement under saddle and the friction creates heat and sweat, then dirt follows. Reading clean pads or a test sheet
after riding only tells you where the horse is moving most! (that tells nothing about saddle-fit) Today's Saddles are
too wide when used behind the shoulders. Therefore they tend to drop down in front and tilt the rider forward as the back
comes up. Double padding raises the saddle 50% more in front than rear but brings with it pinching at withers or rolling
on a round back. The endeavor of trying to pad up a saddle that doesn't "WORK" is a CATCH 22. You
are dammed if you do, and dammed if you don't!
A LACK OF CONTACT TO THE SADDLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
HORSE'S BACK ONLY OCCURS MOMENTARILY when RIDING at speed or bending & turning. BRIDGING IS
A MYTH THAT SELLS MILLIONS IN NEW SADDLES THAT ARE WORSE FOR THE HORSE THAN THE ONES THEY REPLACED.
Regular riding with a too-curved saddle
and the horse's behavior deteriorates after a couple of weeks. This type of Soring is rarely visible in the middle of
the back, but can be detected by palpating slowly with firm pressure. When I was saddling police horses around the world,
every saddle fitted, via a mold, for a dropped back was returned within 30 days to have the tree bar's center shims removed
because of soring in the middle of the horse's back.
The behavior from this is what I term "Pissy"; wringing
of the tail, dancing around, head tossing, silly or bad behavior in general that wasn't there before the new "wonder
saddle". Police departments knew there was a problem, they knew their horses. After enough of these
custom fitted to a mold, curved bar trees, I had the Police department that thought they had-to-have
a special cuved bar tree to call a departement that had already been thru this "Logical Saddling Error".
I never did any more shimming of the tree in the center while I owned
OrthoFlex Saddle Co. Inc.
|BASIC SADDLE-FITTING PROBLEMS START HERE
|SADDLETREE PROBLEMS EXPLAINED. IS YOURS LIKE THIS?
|DRY SPOT THAT'S NOT GOOD; SADDLE TOO FAR FORWARD!
|SMALL ENOUGH TO BE HIGH PRESSURE, AREA OF BARS BEHIND FORK.
2) DRY SPOTS mean I have pressure points and show ILL FIT ? I have seen customers more concerned
about eliminating Dry SPOTS than anything else. DRY SPOTS DO NOT ALWAYS MEAN YOU HAVE PRESSURE POINTS! The
lowest point of the back behind the withers is at Thoracic Vertebrae 7&8. This is the part of the back with most up
and down movement. Side-to-side movement of the vertebral column increases as you move away from this center of movement.
The back lifts most at this point
and comes up to the saddle if not locked down due to severe contraction of the back from direct
pain. Unless riding at speed, DRY spots the size of your open hand or larger, on either side of T/7&8,
is an indication of good saddling and riding. Large dry spots are areas of firm contact and no movement and are most often
a positive sign.
Getting back to basics: Figure
Pounds Per Square Inch and you'll know a person isn't heavy enough to cause pressure sores over an area this large. A dry spot on one side of the wither is the horse dropping the saddle to his
NON-LEAD SIDE, not a crooked saddle or rider! (Read page 6 on thecorrector.net to learn about this in depth.) Once skin is repeatedly damaged do not expect dry areas to immediately start sweating
just because you removed the pressure at that spot.
dry spots on the withers may be permanent or not sweat for months after rectifying the initial saddling problems.
SAY ON MY WEBSITE: "BRING ALONG A CRYSTAL BALL IF YOU ARE INTO READING DRY SPOTS".
Dry spots 4 inches or smaller on both sides of the withers is a good indication of EXCESS tree bar PRESSURE............RECCOMMENDATION:
Palpate your horse for soreness every time before you saddle up and forget chasing every dry spot.
|DRY SPOT IS OLD DAMAGE! WON'T GO AWAY SOON.
|A LEVEL BACK SADDLES USED TO FORWARD, NOT SORE! OLD DAMAGE.
|FLARED BAR TREE CAUSED THIS WHITE HAIR !~
|GAITED & OTHER TREES COPIED OFF OLD ORTH-FLEXES CAUSE ROCKING AS ON THIS HORSE!
White HAIR OR ROANING OF WHITE IS A PRESSURE PROBLEM? White roaning is a history of fluid under the
skin. Solid white hair is where it was slipped in more serious galling and pressure. Roaning of white is not a
pressure problem, 1st it is one of movement, 2nd it is mild pressure. Enough heat from friction and said
pressure causes fluid under the skin. That is where you see roaning. This roaning can disappear with a
coat change if you make necessary changes in saddling. Stirrup strap swing can cause white hair if the saddle isn't constructed
properly to protect from friction to the horse in the upper strap area. Narrow straps also add to this problem as do riders
that stand the stirrups or swing their legs. Some Endurance riders & most Competitive trail riders ride Two
Point and they still brag about it. (The detrimental effects of such to the horse takes most of a book.) When high pressures
happen under a saddle for a long enough time, you won't see white hair. The skin will slough off and you'll have
an open sore on your horse. If your horse has pink skin be sure to keep it protected from the UV's as it is healing.
Bacon Grease is great for keeping flies out and healing while toughtening the skin. Seldom is pressure isolated from friction
under a saddle on a moving horse's back. Mainly the sides of the withers is where pressure alone can do the damage.
Then infection often sets in. If it runs under the scapula, it is life threatening "FISTULA".
|ANY CONTACT WILL CAUSE THIS EVEN THRU PADDING!
|IF YOU HAVE CLEARANCE WHEN RIDING, YOU'LL NOT HAVE THIS! RUN LATIGO STRAP UNDER GULLET TO CHECK!
4) You must have 3 FINGERS CLEARANCE above the WITHERS? As John Lyons once pointed out to me when fitting
ZIP with his first OrthoFlex tree, "A 1/4" or quarter mile, it's all AIR". This 2 or 3 fingers clearance
thing started by someone writing a magazine article. (The well known standard in saddling: "1.5 lbs P.S.I.
or more causes damage deep in a horse's muscle tissue!", was started the same way by the medical editor of Equus
in an article on saddling. When cornered by another writer he admitted to "Pulling the figure out of the Air". Welcome
to the all helpful world of horse magazines and unedited and unsubstanciated world of equine experts
If the saddle is not touching the top
of the withers, or pad on them, when riding, YOU HAVE NO PROBLEM.
This mandated clearance has nothing to do with saddle Balance or "FIT". On the other hand,
BALANCE OF THE SEAT FOR THE RIDER IS VERY IMPORTANT! NOTHING WILL FUNCTION FOR THE HORSE WITHOUT A BALANCED SEAT FOR THE RIDER.
YOU CAN ONLY CHECK BALANCE WHILE RIDING and by FEEL. Throw away your level that some saddlefitting
articles tell you to use to "Balance your saddle" while the horse is standing still. It all changes when the
back comes up as you are riding.
|TALK ABOUT WHITE HAIR, NOW ABOUT TREELESS!
|YOU CAN'T BALANCE RIDER IN A TREELESS SADDLE! RIDER TOO FORWARD, WHITE SHOWS FLUID UNDER SKIN!
5) TREELESS or FLEXTREE SADDLES will solve my saddling problems? Both of these concepts are hundreds
to thousands of years old. The Treeless saddle ridden by the American Indians was a leather pad with Panels stuffed with
hair or whatever was handy. They prevented contact to the horse's spine. Stirrups were attached to the leather flap and
were only used when riding at a walk to rest the feet. When riding at speed they leaned forward and picked up their stirrups and
held them back with their moccasined toes. There was no pressure in the stirrup at speed nor any strap pressure across
the spine. A breast collar and crupper were used as well as a girth to stabilize the saddle. These were better for
the horse than the way treeless are made and ridden today!
The ZENITH of Saddling was reached in England with the FLEXTREE
ENGLISH SADDLE. My friend, the historian and Master Saddler, Barry Swain told me how these saddles were made. Nothing
has been built like them since. Firm generous Stuffed Panels and a hand stuffed seat were in these saddles. The tree's
seat could flex concave or convex and allowed the horse to round his back. Pressure was not carried throughout the tree because
of the flexible bars in the seat area. A riding style called "THE CHAIR SEAT" was used to keep
Stirrup pressure down and protect the horse by making the rider move with the horse and stay in the seat.
worked well for jumping. Caprilli and later his student Count Elias Toptani, who won major jumping events with
the Forward style jumping Seat changed English Saddling Forever. The first Toptani type saddles were made with
the webbed seat and rigid trees like saddles still in production today. It made a rigid tree and a cheaper
saddle. The modern style English saddle was born as well as people riding saddles too far forward. This
forward seat turned into a "forward saddle". Not intended by Caprilli or Toptani his student.
They never put the saddle up over the horse's shoulders as has been done ever since. A few Europeans don't do this
when jumping, Americans are the worst. (Now even their western saddles are made to ride over the horse's shoulders.)
6) Any pressure over 1&1/2 pounds per square inch will cause tissue damage in my horse? This figure
was taken as fact after published in a respected horse magazine in an article written by a Veterianrian on staff in the 1980's.
later when confronted he addmitted to my wife' "pulling that figure out of the AIR". (he made it up) Computer
sensor pads and a small industry was developed on this HOT AIR. There are no figures or studies that have determined what
pressure it takes, or for how long it has to be present, to cause deep tissue damage in the muscles of the horse's back.
I have shown that pressures over 12 P.S.I. at a gallop caused no discomfort to my Grey in his wither/shouder area.
Want to know how to test pressures per square inch under your saddle? You
can't do much with a $20,000 computer sensor pad. They only measure pressures accurately up to 4 psi. That's according
to the original inventor of the sensor pad. The knockoff's from Canada claim to measure higher but I don't believe
that horseshoer for a minute.
had both unit's put under Ortho-Flex. I couldn't tell you anything from the limited data available. Only that in most
cases the info was manipulated by the operator. The first time pressures were measured by the inventor and they showed good.
That was stationary. One lady vet did it in a clinic and they were manipulated just to make her "dog & pony show" look
good. We have solid evidence of such.
pressures get some bubble wrap, preferrably large bubbles. Get a board that
is 1" X 1". Get a scale, bathroom will do, and slowly press the board
onto a bubble. Watch the pressure at which the bubble breaks. You'll find the different colors of bubble wrap
will break at different pressures: 2/3, 6/7, 10/12, Pounds per square inch.
Then get some spray adhesive at Wally world.
It works like a sticky note adhesive if you get the right kind. Spray the Bubble Wrap and then a 1/2"
thick felt pad, stick together and you have a Pressure sensor pad better than the Cookie Dough or Computer pads!
This pad has normal pad thicknes which compares apples to apples. PUT THE BUBBLE WRAP AGAINST THE HORSE.
It gives you air channels and a real AIR PAD. You can now track pressures, better
than the "experts", and at what gaits or speeds those pressures occur. That's
because you can hear the bubbles break while you're riding. Then palpate your horse where the bubbles
broke after removing your new Pressure Sensor test pad. Riding this pad has done what? It has relieved
the highest areas of pressure so it is reduced in that area. I tried to sell these to the horseworld in the mid 1990's. Few
sold, so I dropped it. Just make your own if you want. The Cookie dough pad tells you almost nothing. IN ALL OF
THIS, PALPATING YOUR HORSE THE NEXT DAY IS THE ONLY WAY TO DETERMINE IF YOUR SADDLE IS WORKING !! Regards, Len
|THIS TREE IS GOOD COMPARED TO MOST, THEY ROCK BIG
|THE BACK IS UP & YOU ROCK & ROLL DOWN THE TRAIL.
|A COMBO OF PRESSURE AND FRICTION, ONE RIDE!
|SAM TAYLOR OF COLEMAN TX. HAD SORES HEAL WHILE USING CORRECTOR!
7) A wide tree will STOP PINCHING at my horse's WITHERS? Only a few custom Western saddle makers
ACTUALLY make a WIDE TREE. Most, like the Full-Quarter-Horse-Bar TREES, and all English "WIDE" Trees, are
just flattened in the angle of the bars. Only the lower points of the Bars are widened. They are turned out by adjusting the
angle of the fork mating surface. English trees are not bent as sharply at the head when manufactured.
If the point or foot of the bar doesn't carry weight below the horse's
withers, on the upper ribcage, IT'S ALL PINCH (ABOVE), at the TOP OF THE BARS OR PANELS! This is one of THE MOST PREVALENT PROBLEMS IN SADDLING TODAY! When these bars are
turned out.... the curve front-to-rear is simultaneously increased and you're back to "ROCKING" as well as pinching
as I mentioned at the first fo this article.
WHY ARE MOST SADDLES
BUILT THIS WAY? Manufacturers are doing this to keep from having to make "new"
fork patterns, ground seat patterns, cantle patterns, and all new Leather patterns for the saddle. (Welcome to the Saddle
World.) In other words, they are too CHEAP to make a wide saddle in most instances. Unless a more expensive type of tree
is used, the riders seat would be wider as the tree is widened. Riders don't like that, so nobody mention that wide saddles
aren't really wide saddles, please.
A wide tree or flared bar tree
has to be well up over the shoudlers to keep from tilting the rider's seat downhill. Saddles don't WORK for
the horse when used with the shoudlers grinding away under the bars. Moving a saddle behind the shoulders an inch or so requires
a narrower Fork to prevent excess pressure on the sides of the withers. Built....JUST LIKE THE SADDLES OF A HUNDRED
YEARS AGO; that the SATURDAY NIGHT COWBOYS ABANDONED IN THE 1960s & on.
Build a Short saddle with Narrow gullet, straight bars, with short flare, little rise to the seat, a 3/4ths rigging and most
of the saddling problems you see today would disappear. Only
thin pads can be used with the SADDLE of YESTERDAY that I just described. Even then, 7 horses per cowboy were necessary for
a CATTLE DRIVE. Changing horses everyday let them ride a few hundred miles to get the cattle to market in Kansas. Saddling
problems never allowed for just one or two horses per cowboy.
The first saddle I made let me rider over 3000 miles thru 6 states in 1982 without
one white hair on my black horse. He still wasn't really comfortable until I went beyond typical saddle construction after
that trip. It's been a long journey. First 25,000 saddles and now thousands of The Corrector devices, all just to overcome
the 1400 year old problem of "SADDLE-FIT".
Regards, Len Brown
|TYPICAL WEST SADDLE POSITIONING, 4" OVER SHOULDERS
|TIE-DOWN TO TIGHT, TREE TOO WIDE & WAY FORWARD THEN DOUBLE PADDED: ALL TO BALANCE RIDER!
|THE "WATSON PANEL PINCH" WRONG ANGLE & WIDE TREE!
|ANY SADDLE OR SYSTEM CAN PINCH WHEN THE WIDTH & ANGLE DON'T MATCH THE HORSE!