Asher was hard to back (was prone to explosive bucking) and seemed to battle with 'girthiness' from very early on, despite lots of desensitising and trying several types of saddle. Poor saddle fitting advice didn't help our journey in these early years, and I developed a deep mistrust of saddle fitters and spent much time reading and learning so that I could make my own informed decisions.

From 2009, a small lump (bursitis) would appear on the base of his withers after every ride and would disappear within 10-15minutes after the saddle was removed. This would happen with all saddles, but eventually I found a treeless saddle where the bursitis would occur less often. I then spent another two years experimenting with various saddle pads and eventually found a combination that consistently caused no bursitis. But Asher's girthiness remained, despite more desensitising and care, and the physio kept finding tightness in his shoulders.

As Dinah had come highly recommended by friends, I decided to try the thermal imaging and sure enough, it picked up inflammation around the shoulder and girth area, with post-ride imaging showing the problem worsening. After several months of consulting, with extreme patience and willingness to engage from Dinah, we have now built a pad (Dinah's True Comfort felt numnah) that works for Asher and I. Dinah had to make several adjustments as we discovered how Asher and I cause the pad to shift, and she had to create a special extra support system to prevent the bursitis while still allowing freedom of shoulder movement.

Throughout our engagement, Dinah was always willing to discuss my opinion and the findings from all my experimenting. While Asher has probably been Dinah's most challenging horse to date, I would like to commend her for her patience and willingness to find the right solution for us through months of trials. With his new pad, Asher is far less girthy, he strides out very nicely, and relaxes into his work under saddle far quicker than he used to.

Asher and I recently enjoyed our first 30km endurance ride where he offered super long strides and relaxed movement, and sailed through the vet checks. The saddle and pad stayed basically in place without a breastplate despite varied terrain and the speed and there was no bursitis!

Carol - Tokai - Sept 2013

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