Some of the most common conformation issues we see that interfere with proper saddle fit are: 1) dropped back 2) hollows behind the withers 3) dropped back with hollows behind the withers. These types of conformation issues are problematic because no matter what type of saddle you’re riding, the tree can’t function as it was intended which is to distribute the rider’s weight down the length of the bars instead of all the pressure on the ends. Good news is these issues are easy to solve! You need a bridge pad to fill in those gaps and get your horse comfortable.
Learn more and choose a bridge pad based on your horse’s needs: dropped back, hollow shoulders, or dropped back with hollows.
Here are some guidelines:
Dropped back: Bridge pad
It can be seen in older horses, poorly conditioned horses, or young horses with a short back and the natural back curve is more pronounced. Since the horse’s back has more curve than the tree bars, the tree puts pressure points on the front and rear of the tree. While you may have the correct saddle fit, pad support will fill in that gap to more evenly distribute the rider’s weight for a much more comfortable ride.
Hollow shoulders: Shoulder bridge pad
This can be seen in horses of all ages and should be filled with pad support. You’ll see defined, narrow withers along with hollows behind the scapula. Often you see these horses with white spots in this area from where the front of the tree bars is putting too much pressure. A pad with targeted padding will help lift the front tree bars out of this hole to eliminate pressure points and better distribute the rider’s weight evenly as the tree bars are intended.
Dropped back AND hollow shoulders: Long shoulder bridge pad
Most commonly seen in older horses, this conformation prevents the tree from functioning as it was intended. All the pressure from the rider will be put on the front and rear tree bars creating pressure points. A pad that’s built up in the front and down the back will help distribute the rider’s weight down the length of the bars instead of all the pressure on the ends for a more comfortable fit.
(Shown with the bridge pad placed to fill in the gaps)