Of all the breeds in the World, the Thoroughbred exemplifies the meaning of ‘forward’.Even when these horses lack the pedigree, as in John Henry, the size, as in Seabiscuit, or the injury to Ruffian, in her famous match race with Foolish Pleasure, they don’t know the meaning of‘quit.’However, the owners and trainers of these horses often do.We believe the reason so many people give up on these athletic horses, is not because of the lack of their willingness, it is basically that they are not allowed to move to their maximum level of ability under saddle.However, once these horses are given a chance to move correctly, trained and ridden with the sensitivity they deserve, there is not a better breed in the world for any discipline.
The basics - As a horse moves forward, their shoulders have to move with that motion. With a horse running at liberty, the movement of the horse’s shoulder, has a natural biomechanical movement that is not inhibited, as with a horse under saddle.When the saddle prevents the shoulder from going back, as with the thoroughbred with deep shoulder holes, the shoulder will have to go up, or pop.This vertical motion of the shoulder will cause the horse to pace (short stride), overly develop the deltoid and triceps muscles, tear the serratus ventralis muscle (found under the shoulder), which in turn will force the scapulas outward.
This becomes a catch 22 - the more you work this horse in this frame, the deeper the shoulder holes become.Besides the apparent problems with this horse, there are a lot of secondary problems; when the shoulder can’t move, the humerus can’t open, if the humerus can’t open, you will never be able to build the most important muscle group in an athletic horse - the latissimus dorsi.Without that muscle group, you will have a high-spined horse that will be incapable of doing dressage, or any other discipline, let alone carry the weight of the rider.
We have found that the best way to make these horses move with the least amount of resistance to the weight of the saddle and rider, is to install the Flaire air panel systemWe were some of the first to be certified in the installation of these panels, and since that time, we have installed approximately 500 of these systems in dressage and jumping saddles.
A picture is worth a thousand words...
This top picture on the left, is a 6 year-old, off the track thoroughbred gelding with deep shoulder holes, and scaring on the top of his withers from a previously ill-fitting saddle. As you can see, he also was completely lacking in a top-line (longissimus dorsa), and was extremely back sore.After the installation of air panels, he immediately started to move his shoulders resistant free from the weight of the saddle and rider, and was able to build the correct musculature and strength, to become an upper-level dressage horse.
This picture was taken approximately six months later.Besides the obvious stronger looking horse, he became a lot less tense in the pole, he had very little difficulty coming up in the back, and always moved with correct engagement in all gaits.
In other case studies that we have done, including Olympic Eventer, Becky Holder, and her famous thoroughbred Courageous Comet, not only did his dressage improve to where he always finishes 1st in his 3 & 4 star competitions, but his jumping ability also greatly improved.
For the horse with narrow withers, the Flair air panel system is a perfect fix -with our simple instructions, these panels can be easily inflated with a regular soccer ball air pump, for muscular changes in your horse, to allow the shoulders to move with the least amount of resistance offered from saddle and rider.
If you are interested in getting additional information on a custom saddle, please click the link below .