How Can You Fit A Saddle On A Swaybacked Horse?

ThinLine Saddle Fit Sway BackLordosis, or more commonly referred to as “swayback”, is when the span of the back dips excessively in the center of the top line.  It is caused by weakness and laxity/stretching of the supporting ligaments along the horse’s spine, often with weakness and loss of bulk/tone in the top line musculature.

Most way backs are not congenital,  are not a true sway.  Often the sway is the result of lack of muscle across the top line: building back muscle will reduce or eliminate the sway, if it is not congenital and will improve it even if it is.

 Swayback is common in aged broodmares, who have had the added weight of a pregnancy stressing the back. Letting the horse get too fat obviously contributes to strain on the back. Similarly, carrying a heavy rider for many years might increase risk, although this has not been specifically studied.

Conformation  plays a role. Horses with  long backs prone to back problems in general, including swayback. Horses with high-set necks and a high head carriage may be at greater risk because this way of moving tends to hollow the back.  

Saddle Fit: A swayback can cause soreness to a horse’s back because most saddles will “bridge,” putting the rider’s weight only on the front and the back of the saddle, creating abnormal pressure points, especially over the shoulders and loins. On the other hand, poor saddle fit can also contribute to swayback, as the horse will alter its stride and movement, including hollowing its back, and raising its head to avoid pain.

When riding a horse with a swayback, make sure your saddle fits correctly.  An ill-fitting saddle will only exasperate the problem, and prevent correct muscle development.

Signs of Poor Saddle Fit on Swayback Horse:

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  1. Saddle Sores: caused by friction (movement of the saddle) or pressure. Girth and/or saddle are too tight or too loose and begin to rub the horse.  Friction can also be caused by an imbalanced rider, or incorrect saddle placement.
  2. White Hairs: are caused by too much pressure in a small spot.  The pressure stops blood flow, kills the sweat gland and causes hair to turn white.
  3. Dry Spots:  after you ride the horses back should be evenly wet where the saddle lies.  Dry spots suggest there is either too much pressure, or not enough contact in one spot.
  4. Muscle Atrophy: your saddle is probably pinching the horse.  This could also be caused by poor riding or riding too long on unfit horses.
  5. Bridging: this is when the panels at the center of the saddle do not have even contact with the horses back.  This indicates that either the saddle tree is too straight for the horse’s back, or if the saddle fits otherwise correctly, the horse is showing signs of swayback.

There are ways to accommodate saddle fit for a saddle that bridges.  If a slight bridge exists, then use a shimmable pad with bridging shims inserted to “fill in” the gap.  Contact of the saddle panels on the horses back must be even.  If the horse is a true sway, then this will make the horse more comfortable and offer a more permanent solution.  If the horse is only displaying signs of a sway from lack of correct muscle development, then using the shims will allow the horse to move more comfortably and correctly so that those muscles can be developed and the shims may eventually be removed.

ThinLine has several thicknesses of shims and they may be stacked so riders can remove a layer at a time when the horses back begins to strengthen and lift.

 

Proper saddle fit, for a horse with a swayback or not, will equal a safe, relaxing ride.  You don’t have to be an expert to tell if  you have a bad saddle fit for but it is always advisable to have a professional check.  If you’re certain you have a saddle with the correct gullet size for your horse, paying attention to how your horse acts and how your body feels will let you know if you’ve got the right fit.

Exercise caution using bridging shims.  Over shimming can actually cause the horse to move away from the pressure created when over shimming the center of the back.  Your saddle will rock forward and backward if you over shim. 

 

ThinLine offers all our customers a money back guarantee.
Our products are here to help you and your horse work happily together.

All our pads, except the basic ThinLine, are available with bridigng shims.

 
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Looking for a very discrete half pad?  ThinLine is endorsed by Veterinarians, even for severe back problems such as kissing spine. It is the #1 choice of Equine Chiropractors and Massage Therapists.  Top choice of many great riders.

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The ThinLine Standard Trimmed Basic Pad will lie discreetly directly under your saddle while providing a non-slip surface. They will not allow a build up of heat under your tack as due to their open cell technology they are 100% breathable. Require no maintenance.

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The ThinLine Contoured Basic Pad gives you added protection under the stirrup bar of the saddle. We recommend the contoured style as it provides more material with more ThinLine protection. Protect you and your horse with a pad recommended by Saddle Fitters, Veterinarians, and Surgeons.

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More streamlined than ever! Creating a contoured wither profile and spine free channel, allowing the horse to work effectively through their back. Delivering the maximum in shock absorbency in the minimum thickness.

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New and improved!  The look of a sheepskin pad without the extra bulk. A high quality quilted cotton base pad and trimmed with luxurious sheepskin. Protects both the horse and rider's back. Spine free channel!

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Comfort / Antislip / Ultimate connection. Preferred by both horses and riders. This non-slip, breathable, shock-absorbing ThinLine coupled with the great suede look and the waffle-weave backing keeps you stable and happy.  With extraordinary shock absorption for riders and horses, there will be no sore backs after time spent together.

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ThinLine Sheepskin Comfort Half Pad combining sheepskin, Wither Freedom & Spine Free Channel combined in one amazing highest quality pad!

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A great everyday saddle pad with very important wither clearance! Use the ThinLine Square Cotton Dressage Pad to solve your two pad slipping issues with this all in one saddle pad. The Thinline provides all the shock absorption protection where you need it. Add to a heavy-duty quilted cotton saddle pad, creates a breathable durable saddle pad. This is a perfect pad to hold up to everyday riding and training.

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Allow your horse to perform their best with the ThinLine Woven wool Square Cotton Dressage Pad. This beautiful pad is designed with a thinLine over a high-quality diamond-quilted cotton square pad with luxurious merino wool under the panels. Complete with a front roll to create the ultimate dressage look!

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Solve your two pad slipping issues with this all in one saddle pad. The Thinline provides all the shock absorption protection where you need it. Add to a heavy-duty quilted cotton saddle pad, creates a breathable durable saddle pad. This is a perfect pad to hold up to everyday riding and training.

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A great everyday saddle pad with very important wither clearance! Use the ThinLine Square Cotton Jumping Pad to solve your two pad slipping issues with this all in one saddle pad. The Thinline provides all the shock absorption protection where you need it. Add to a heavy-duty quilted cotton saddle pad, creates a breathable durable saddle pad. This is a perfect pad to hold up to everyday riding and training.

 197.00

Solve your two pad slipping issues with this all in one saddle pad. The Thinline provides all the shock absorption protection where you need it. Add to a heavy-duty quilted cotton saddle pad, creates a breathable durable saddle pad. This is a perfect pad to hold up to everyday riding and training.

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Simply add over your existing saddle pad to provide the ultimate protection for both horse and rider. With a non-slip surface between your saddle and saddle pad, it will help keep your saddle in place and provide shock absorption. These pads can be added to custom and/or well-fitting saddles without altering their fit.

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Nothing is more important when out on an extended ride than the protection and comfort of your horse's back. Protect your horse with this great full saddle pad today!

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ThinLine Western Full Sheepskin Comfort Pad. ThinLine shock absorption and medical-grade sheepskin. Most comfort and protection for horse and rider.

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The thin, Pro-Tech Felt Saddle Pad provides more shock absorption than a 2-inch thick felt pad. Pressure points are eliminated due to less bulk, the pad is soft and flexible, allowing it fits neatly and comfortably against your horses’ natural confirmation, and communication is reestablished.

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The perfect liner to be used with your wool pads! High-performance ThinLine panels sewn onto a quality quilted cotton base pad. Providing maximum comfort with minimum bulk. Complete with a contoured wither profile and pockets to add shims for saddle fit adjustment. Breathable and allowing heat and moisture to leave the horse’s skin.

 478.00

This pad is perfect for endurance, barrel, western and Australian saddles. Amazing when out on an extended ride. Perfect Protection of your horse's back.

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ThinLine Western Full Sheepskin Comfort Pad with wither profile/freedom. ThinLine 95% shock absorption and medical-grade sheepskin. Most comfort and protection for horse and rider.

 314.00

Ready for a long day on the ranch with this amazing pad? A lightweight durable pad for everyday use while giving you and your horse maximum protection and comfort. The ThinLine Western Ranch Pad is designed with a spine free channel and wither profile to accommodate varying wither types!

 231.00 258.00

Use this ThinLine Western Felt Liner to protect show pads and backs. Thin enough to be used as a liner, but durable enough to be used on its own. 1 cm high-quality wool felt with ThinLine. This liner even has shimmable pockets to help improve saddle fit!

 321.00

ThinLine Endurance Waxed Saddle Pad is made of high-quality lambswool fleece lining against your horse. This great lining wicks moisture and adapts to temperature change, cool in the summer and warm in winter. Wool felt fill, topped with a waxed cotton-based fabric that sheds water completed with shock-absorbing ThinLine panels!

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Combine high-grade wool felt with extraordinary ThinLine for protection, add a pocket to allow shimming for saddle fit, and you have the perfect pad! A Thinline is integrated over high-quality wool felt for a soft and smooth finish. Designed with a wither relief cut out and a spine-free free channel. You'll love it!

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Treat yourself and your horse to the beauty and quality of Diamond Wool combined with the protection and technology of ThinLine!  Riders across all disciplines know and value Diamond Wool for their quality, natural wool saddle pads.

 

How Can You Fit A Saddle On A Swaybacked Horse?
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