Effect of padding on rock

Posted by RodandDenise on January 23, 2024

We are no longer building saddle trees, but we have two videos about how Western saddles fit horses available on our website.

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Continuing on looking at padding's effect on saddle fit, we will see that it also affects rock. These pictures aren't ideal since they weren't taken to present this idea, but they will give you an idea that what we are saying is true.

We have showed you that padding lifts the whole tree and saddle, and that the front of the saddle lifts more than the back, so how does that affect rock? In practice, it means the tree is tilted back a bit more on the horse than it is when it is bare, either as a bare tree (for those who see them) or as a saddle without padding. And this ends up "taking out rock". You need more curve in the bar to contact well when there is padding compared to when there isn't padding. So if a saddle or tree bridges without padding, it will do so more with padding. If it has a bit of lift at the back of the saddle without padding (which is what we like) it will match the shape better when you add the padding (though you still want some relief at the back bar tips so they don't dig in under weight).

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It is hard to show in pictures, but take a look at the amount of space under the back of the bars. With the bare tree, you can see the back of the bar tips lift off some from the horse.

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With a 1/2 inch folded blanket, the back bar tips are still lifting off, but closer to the blanket/horse than when bare.

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And, though this isn't the best picture because these pictures were not taken to illustrate this point, you can see that there is less distance with the 7/8" pad than bare or with the blanket. 

So the bottom line is that there is functionally less rock in the tree with padding than without it due to the front being lifted more than the back, and the same is true for finished saddles, though not to the same extent. This is why, though we tell people to check under their saddles without padding to be able to feel how well the shapes match, looking for high pressure or no pressure areas because it is easier to tell that way, you then need to check again with padding to get the final assessment. 

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