How many of us look at the sweat pattern on our horse/s back after we ride? What do you look for? Do you know what you should be looking for?
Sweat patterns can help us to have an understanding of what the saddle is doing when we are riding, and if the saddle should be looked at by a qualified saddle fitter.
Saddle fitting is a crucial aspect of horse riding and knowing when a saddle could be causing an issue to the horses back is even more important.
There are many ideas on what the sweat pattern should look like once the saddle comes off. Some believe the whole area should have sweat, however once we know how the sweat is formed and why, we will understand that this is not the case.
Sweat is formed by air and movement. More sweat is formed with less contact/pressure and movement which allows the air to move freely. When a saddle is fitted, the ideal fit means the most contact in the centre two thirds of the saddle. As such the centre of the saddle has the most contact with the least amount of movement. Also remember, as the horses shoulder and lumber moves, this causes air flow to the front and back of the saddle. This in turn means more sweat in the front and back of the saddle. As the middle of the saddle has the least amount of movement, this also means the least amount of air. This will cause less sweat to this area.
So what does all this mean. It means when you look at your saddle cloth after a ride, there is more dirt. & sweat on the front and back. When you look at your horses back there is more sweat under the front and back of the saddle.
Most of us have also been told that any dry spots is a very bad thing, and dry spots means the saddle is ill fitted. This is not 100% correct. If there is a dry spot in the middle, about the size of a hand, this is generally ok. However, if the dry spot is small this could be a sign of saddle issues.
So if sweat patterns are not a true indication of an ill fitted saddle, what should we look for?
- White hairs appearing
- Soreness over the back
- Reluctantance to go down hill
- Shortening in stride
- Muscle atrophy
My best recommendation is if you ever have concerns about your saddle or if it has been more than 12 months since your last saddle fit by a qualified saddle fitter, make a booking with your qualified saddle fitter.