Saddle slipping is a problem that can affect any horse and rider combination both in and out of the show ring. But what seems like a little problem may have a big impact on your score. It may surprise you just how much saddle slipping can factor into you overall score for your hunter or equitation round.
“As a rider, if your saddle isn’t in the right place not only does it make you feel like you’re not as balanced, it also distracts you,” says rider, trainer, and licensed R judge Hope Glynn. “If your saddle slips left to right or forward to back, usually as a rider it starts to get in your head that you’re not in the middle of your horse. It can affect your ride but it also can affect your horse’s performance.”
Hope’s daughter, Avery, is an accomplished junior hunter rider. She is also coming up in the equitation ranks, and is already leaving her mark.
“I use Ecogold Hunter Pads because her (Avery’s) equitation horse has a funny back. She has high withers and when the saddle slips it actually makes her back sore. We can’t have any other pad on her because if the saddle slips back she will come off the ground hollow and she could have a rail. It’s really important for us that we have the right pad.”
Hope recalls a time when a groom who wasn’t their regular groom brought Avery’s horse to the ring without the correct pad.
“I ran back to the barn to get our Ecogold pad. The groom asked if it really made a difference and I said yes. On a horse like this, it can be the difference between winning and losing. Then they really understood the importance of it and how much saddle slip can affect sensitive horses.”
Often times, something such as a rail, swap out, or missed lead change can be the difference between a winning trip and no ribbon at all. Almost all of these faults can be caused by improper saddle position or an unbalanced rider which in turn are caused by a slipping saddle.
“I think with something like (saddle slipping), that is avoidable and can directly affect not only your distance but also your horse’s performance, you have to think to yourself ‘why don’t I take care of it’ because it’s one of the few things you have complete control over in the ring. If you have a good fitting saddle and you have the correct pad that keeps your saddle from slipping, then there’s no reason why you can’t stop this from ever happening.”