High Withers and What to do about Them
We know the saddle must not rest on the withers and with this conformation what often happens is that a tree with insufficient curve, too high a stirrup bar and short points is made exceptionally narrow to clear the withers – if the points are too short and the panel has insufficient depth to give support where it is needed, the saddle gets “sucked” into the back as soon as it is girthed and the weight of a rider added – this causes extreme pressure, muscle loss and exacerbates the problems.
If the balance of the saddle is wrong with the cantle too high in relation to the pommel you can add an extra layer or use a shim to lift the saddle just at the front. If you lift the saddle at the front and the back be sure that you are getting even contact throughout the weight baring surface of the panel - it is possible to create the balance and clearance and then cause pressure points because the panel is bridging - in other words the weight of the rider is not being taken in the middle of the saddle.
You should NEVER lift the back of the saddle with a riser pad unless you are very sure that by doing so you will not create tremendous pressure by pushing the points of the tree straight into the muscle behind the scapula - this will cause even further muscle wastage and discomfort to the horse.
Saddle pads certainly have their uses but even so if you are trying to get a saddle with a very straight tree or unsuitably shaped tree in one of the narrow fits to fit this type of horse, it is difficult to do this satisfactorily without detriment to the horse.
Saddles with suitable trees and panels which address this problem in the NSC range are: