Alex got in touch with this wonderful tip. I never knew about the 18th rib:
“Every horse deserves a well-fitting saddle - no matter how much he costs, or what work he’s doing.
A poor fit compromises control, it's that simple.
If it bounces around, or slide away from the horse’s centre of gravity, not only are you in trouble, but you're harming the horse underneath.
Muscle waste, back pain, lameness and behaviour problems can all stem from a bad saddle fit.
- Check there are no sores or rub burns on your horse.
- Make sure your horse’s movement isn’t restricted. The shoulders shouldn’t be obstructed at any position. Raise your horse’s front leg, to move the shoulder back as far as it will go.
- Feel for the top of the 18th rib at the back of your horse. This marks the beginning of the back’s weakest point. A saddle mustn’t be allowed to invade this area.
- Check there’s no hair loss on the contact points.
- After riding, check for a complete sweat line where the saddle should make contact.
- Look under the saddle from behind your horse. You should see light at the other end.
- Slide your fingers under the pommel. They should fit comfortably between your horse and the saddle.
I know saddle fitters aren't cheap, but hiring one could save your horse terrible problems.
Sound advice from Alex - a big thank you to him.
And thanks for all your comments on the Horse Whisperer club.