I was very pleased to get Diego through Sunday’s 25 mile ride with no back soreness. The vet found nothing through any of the checks, and I found nothing when I checked Diego before trailering home. I checked him yesterday morning and he was fine too.
Today I did a very thorough check of Diego’s back, from withers right back to hips, and well down over the top of his ribs. I feathered it, and massaged it, and applied some very deep pressure. And got absolutely NO reaction whatsoever. Not even a skin flicker. He didn’t flinch, step away, flick an ear, lift his head, swish his tail, or in any way react to what I was doing.
The saddle is an older model Barefoot London treeless dressage saddle. It does not have the VPS panels which were added to later models, so it tends to have pressure points under the stirrup hangers. I find it is a bit frustrating because the stirrup leathers catch against the seam of the knee pad at the lower edge of the flap, so don’t swing forward freely if I need them to. Which means that occasionally my feet end up a little bit farther behind my center of balance than I’d like.
There’s also a problem with the back of my thighs. I do not know why it happens, but it only happens in the Barefoot, not any other saddle. At the end of a ride, sometimes I end up with stripes worn through my skin where the seam of my full seat tights sits. Raw, bleeding stripes. And yep, it happened at Summer’s End. It’s still pretty darned uncomfortable. I am not sure why, but I suspect it might be that the saddle is a bit “pillowy” and sort of bulges up behind my thigh, allowing the seam to rub. Either that or it’s the edge of the seat section that is pushing against the seam of the full seat? I’m not quite sure. It may be that if I got the sheepskin replacement seat, the rubbing would stop.
None of which is to give the Barefoot a bad rep. The newer VPS model is supposed to be much improved, and likely addresses some or all of those issues. But I don’t actually HAVE the newer model. So I have to work with this one.
The leather is looking rather worn. But it has done quite a lot of miles. I rode both King and Dressy in it. King was very happy with it. Dressy got some swelling from pressure points (she did a lot more miles and went a lot faster than King).
I split a 3/4 inch Cashel cushion pad lengthwise and added it to the poron inserts I already had in the Christ pad. So it’s got an inch of foam padding on either side. That creates really good spine clearance for the treeless saddle, and should also protect Diego somewhat from the pressure of the stirrup hangers.
I am still looking for a saddle to fit both Diego and I correctly long term. But I think this is a reasonable interim solution to our problems.