At the beginning of January I got myself organised and booked Otis in for his check up by my lovely McTimoney chiropractor. This check up is a little early, but as she’s pregnant I wanted him looked at sooner rather than later; to prevent any problems and to keep the continuity of treatment.
Anyway, his appointment was booked in for earlier this week, but last week I noticed that his saddle had rubbed the hair away on the near side, over his loins. He is fully clipped, and it’s not uncommon for bald patches to appear more easily on clipped horses; for example on the shoulders from rugs.
I wasn’t too worried, but kept an eye on it over the weekend and it didn’t seem to be getting worse.
When his chiropractor started feeling his muscle tone, commenting on how much better his left brachiocephalic is, she found a slight reaction on the near side of his vertebrae when she touched the bare patch. Moving further back, she found that his pelvis had shifted as it usually does, and dropped on the left side. It’s usually accompanied by a pelvic tilt down on the left side too, but this time there was only a fractional tilt which is great.
Otis was treated, and there was an immediate improvement in the saddle area, so we’ve come to the conclusion that his pelvis had rotated and dropped in the last fortnight, causing a change in saddle pressure. Now I just need to keep an eye on the patch and make sure it improves. He had his saddles re-adjusted in October, so he’s unlikely to need another check up, but he may well have changed shape slightly since the autumn.
This led us onto the topic of saddle slippage. There has recently been a scientific study, of which back people have already known about the findings for years, that has linked saddle slippage to hind limb lameness. Now, lameness in this picture is not necessarily an observable mis-step, but more of an asymmetry in the pelvis and limb balance, which causes a tilt in the back and subsequent slip of the saddle.
I found it really interesting, as it provides me with another symptom to look for, along with the tendency for him to drift right whilst jumping and a preference for quarters left, so that I know when Otis needs straightening out.
So it may be worth remembering that if your saddle seems to slip to one side, and it’s been checked recently, that it may be necessary to have your horse’s back and pelvis checked and realigned. Alternatively, it could always be a crookedness in the rider that causes a saddle to shift, so it may be worth getting yourself checked out too!
In the meantime, here’s a photo of Otis and his best friend!