When it comes to showing horses and competing in any event, there comes a time when you have to make a decision as to whether you want to show up and just compete, or do you want to do what it takes to win. In the rodeo world it is called donating. I kind of like that term. What it indicates to me is that you are there to show up and donate the money to be in the pen with the competitors, or the people who are doing what it takes to win. When you are getting started this is something that you have to do, but at some point in your show career you have to make a decision to dedicate yourself enough to become a competitor.
Doing what it takes to win can mean many different things. Sometimes this means that you need to make the next move in purchasing more horse power. Sometimes it means that you need to step up your practice. More often than not the first step is for you to step up your practice and get good coaching. Once you have put in your time, and exceeded the level of your horse, then that is the time to step up the horse power.
I see a lot of people try to step up the horse power and expect a better result in the show pen right away. Well, you have stepped up in horse, now it is time to step up your riding level. That is where a good coach comes in. A good example is if you have a fear of the lead change coupled with a foggy understanding of how to obtain a correct lead change. The fix is not purchasing a horse with a better lead change, rather it is to learn how to ride better first. Dedicate yourself to taking lessons and get a firm understanding of the lead change. You may actually fix the horse that you have, and in the process become a better rider.
I have people come out to our facility and say that they have a strong desire to become a great rider. They want it like nothing before, and would like for me to teach them to become the best that they can be. The first thing that I tell them is that I will put as much time into them as they put into themselves. Dedication is the key to success in anything. That is what horses can teach you, and that is a lesson worth learning because it will follow you into the rest of your life.
I will give you some great example of winners: The San Antonio Spurs are a great team, a team comprised of great athletes with skill and knowledge to compete and win at the top level. Why do they have a coach? Can’t they stay in shape and practice on their own. If that was the case there would be no coaches in any of the NBA teams. They need to have someone there to give insight into their game, detect glitches in their execution, to give motivation, and to keep them focused on the task at hand.
I just watched a US Open singles tennis match who like wise are great athletes with tons of talent. Each one of the competitors has a coach, not because they do not know the game but for the same reason that professional sports teams have them too.
You see a lot of people join a gym to get in better shape each year. They start out dedicating themselves to getting in good physical condition yet, 99 percent of them do not finish the year. Why do you think that most have you sign a contract for a year? Because odds are you wont use all of it and they will still get paid. Why do you think that most sign the contract? Because they really want to stick with it and reach their goal. The ones that succeed at a higher percentage are the ones that have a personal trainer; someone that holds you accountable for showing up, and can coach you to your goals.
It takes more than just good intentions. Success takes dedication, hard work, and inspiration from a knowledgeable coach/trainer. Winning or becoming a winner is measured by personal goals. Just because you are not a world champion does not mean that you are not a winner. A winner is one who reaches his or her goals and passes their personal best. I will consider myself a great teacher when my assistant Jeni Phipps beats me in the show pen.
Before I go into how to teach a horse to take the correct lead, let me answer the question of, “Why does it matter what lead my horse is on”. The answer is not because that is what the rule book says. It is because it is what is proper and beneficial to the horses movement, and it allows him to use his body in an efficient manner.
Lets look at roping horses first, why do you want your calf horse to stop and back up straight? That is easy, because if he backs straight, he can pull with all of his body and pull the calf back to you which saves you time getting to the calf. The key here is that he can pull with his whole body. So if we relate that to team roping and ask how is it most efficient for a header to turn a steer? The heading horse’s job is to turn the steer at a 90 degree angle and pull the steer so that the healer has a good shot sooner. The most efficient position for the heading horse to be in, is for his body to be pulling straight up the rope of the steer, and that can only be obtained if the heading horse is in the left lead. If the heading horse is in the right lead and turning left then he is pulling with his left shoulder and is not using his entire body. This causes soreness in the shoulders and eventually ducking off to avoid soreness. If he is pulling straight and on the left lead he is pulling not with his shoulders but with his hind end. Why do you think that the old timers rigged their teams of horses in front if the wagons and not off to the side? They can pull best when their body is in the correct position.
Ok, now how to teach them to pick up the lead that we want and not the lead of opportunity. Before I explain this, let me just say that this is not the only way, but one way. I use many methods, but this one works for most. You must keep in mind that we are teaching, and teaching is learned best with repetition and consistency. It did not take you one afternoon to learn your times tables in school. Instead, it took days. 5 times 5 was always 25, it did not change to 30 after two days. Also keep in mind the teachers voice did not get louder and scream at you for every wrong answer, which would cause you to get frustrated and quit. Good teachers will encourage participation with repetition and consistency.
I like to work on leads while the horse is still in the round pen. Plus for simplicity sake, this will keep you from trying to work on other things like guiding and being worried about making corners before running out of room. First, your horse needs to understand giving to the bit laterally or left and right, and needs to be moving off of leg pressure at the hip. Once you have these parts you can encourage your horse to trot going counter clockwise in the round pen, or to the left. We will be working on the horse taking the left lead, to work on the right lead just take all of these steps and reverse it. With your horse trotting to the left apply pressure with your right leg, not to take a lope yet, but just to get their hip moving towards the middle of the round pen. Then slightly ask for their nose to point toward the outside of the round pen or fence. Do not over bend them into the fence, you are only asking for the nose to point outside of the circle to open the left shoulder. This allows for them to reach with the left front end or lead leg. With the horse in this position, encourage them to trot faster and allow them to pick up the lope when they feel comfortable. Once they have picked up the left lead, allow for the nose to come back inside of the circle. Avoid pulling or bending the head to far to the outside of the circle because this will impede forward motion, which is needed to break into a lope. If the horse has loped off, but in the incorrect lead, just pull back on the reins to cause them to break back down into a trot and start the sequence over again. To get an idea as to how far to bend their head to the outside, I just want to be able to see their right eye if I am trying to get them to take a left lead.
Now, once you have gotten the horse to a point of consistently picking up the correct lead,(like three correct leads in a row) start to relax on the outside rein pressure, and ask with just the leg pressure keeping the head looking straight into the circle. If they go back to picking up the incorrect lead, go back to helping by turning the nose slightly outside of the circle. Remember, that a lead starts first with a side pass. When you are asking for a side pass to the left your horse reaches to the left with his left leg and crosses with his right. It only makes sense that when you increase forward motion in that maneuver that your horse will again reach with his left leg and depart in a left lead.
When I refer to the foundation of training I am talking about teaching a horse the fundamentals of body control. We hear this a lot but, why do we go through all of this work if all we want is for our horse to understand stop, go, left and right? For the most part it is because once we get proficient at these things we usually want to expand our ability and our horses ability.
So why is the foundation so important? Why does it take so long for a trainer to take a horse from first saddle to 4th level dressage? Or why does it take me two years or longer to get a horse ready to show in reining? I guess it is the same reason that it took you 8 years to start learning algebra. You first had to learn the basics.
If you look at it in another context, one that we are more familiar with like yourself, it becomes easier to understand. I often times explain training by comparing it to math. Mostly because everyone has taken math in school, and have an understanding of the multiplication and division. Think back to how long it took for you to learn your numbers and a basic understanding of addition and subtraction. It took longer than 90 days. If it took only 90 days then our summers would have been longer. Instead, it took years for us to understand all of the numbers and have it solid. That is not to say that some of us were able to count to ten before we even started school, but did you really have a firm understanding of what that number represented. Sure you could count and have an understanding of numbers by seven, but could you be held responsible for getting correct change for a twenty dollar bill?
Often times people watch me ride a young horse and see that he can side pass early on and possibly work a little spin. But the real question is does that young horse have a firm understanding of the cues or does the rider have a lot more knowledge in order to help the young horse. It is kind of like the young child when asked how old are you and they look to their parents while saying three. With help and assurance they will get the right answer but if left to figure it out on their own it is a 50/50 chance.
The other reason that it is so important to have a solid understanding of these basics is later on in training, you as a rider can help explain to your horse how to do something better. Lets take stopping for example. While teaching a three year old horse to stop and slide twenty feet. I sometimes have one that will have trouble staying soft on his front end and walk while keeping his rear end in the ground. If he does not have a firm understanding of shoulder control or can not collect and drive into the bit with leg pressure, then I have to go back and teach that. To compare it to math. I am trying to teach you multiplication. You have all of your times tables memorized but are having trouble with memorizing your times tables for the number seven. If you do not understand the value of the number seven, then I as a teacher will have to go back and teach you the value of the number seven. Then I will have to teach you the value of adding the number seven, before I can continue. The benefit is that later on when I am trying to teach you algebra and you start to have problems then I can revert back to your basic understanding of the value of numbers to help you understand algebra.
This is the reason why we put so much importance on the basics. This is why I do not teach or train with short cuts, because it will hurt me and my horse in the long run. It is also the reason why the basics or the foundation of training is the same for every event. Five apples is five apples whether you are in Texas or Japan. In some places you may not want to eat those five apples, but there are five of them none the less.
The article on how to pick a broodmare was well received, so it seemed only fitting that I follow it with how to pick a stallion to breed her to. So here we go.
I am a bit biased on the stallions that I choose, because they have to be something that will fit in the reining market today. But, remember I am also looking for the same things that you should be looking for in your discipline. No, not just a reiner, but a stallion that is going to compliment the mare that I have. It has to be something that will be marketable.
How do I know the stallion that I pick is going to compliment my mare? Well, my first stop in finding this out is to do some quick research. The best place for me to do this is the Quarter Horse News annual Stallion Registry, Equistat or the American Quarter Horse Association website. In the Stallion Registry they do most of the dirty work for you by not only giving you statistics on the different stallions, but also give you magic crosses. Magic crosses? Yes, magic crosses! They have compiled data and will give you what kind of mares out of a certain stallion cross best with a certain stud to produce the most money in the show pen. There is a load of information in these publications that can assist you in how to cross your mare with the perfect stud. At worst it will provide you with an educated guess.
Let’s play a little for instance. OK, lets say that I want to breed to Smart Chic Olena, but do not have the $25,000 to breed to him. Yes, that is right, he is now $25,000 to breed your mare. But, I want to breed to a son of him, and I am not sure if my mare is one that is going to cross well with this horse. In the stallion registry you will find that own daughters of Doc’s Oak have crossed the best with him when considering the amount of money earned in the show ring. Here are the statistics: average earnings on daughters of Doc’s Oak is $46,503; number on money earners is 14; gross earnings are $651,045. This is according to the statistics in the 2004 Stallion Registry. So it seems to reason that if you have an own daughter of Doc’s Oak, you should be breeding to this stallion. But wait, I forgot that we do not have $25,000 to blow! Not to mention, I have a mare that is Peppy San Badger bred and another that is Colonel Freckles bred. Well the statistics also tell us that these mares will cross well with Smart Chic Olena. The gross earnings on Little Peppy bred mares is $240,410, and the Colonel Freckles bred is $189,784.
Now that we have found that my mares will cross well with Smart Chic Olena, how do we pick which son of him to breed? Well, for me there are two things that I take into consideration; first, the stallion of my choice has got to be proven to perform in the arena. To be more specific he has to have been proven in an association that reports his statistics. What I mean is that he has to have a proven record in the show pen. The bigger the show pen the better. I do not want to just see that he has an ROM ( record of merit), but that he has qualified for a world class event, or that he has won a substantial amount of money. That proves to me that he was not just a one hit wonder, but that he is a horse with outstanding ability and has some staying power. Staying power in the pen means longevity to me, and also converts to solid minded and built to last. For example, I have a stallion in training that I have shown for sometime and will be qualifying for the USET ( United States Equestrian Team) events this next year. He is a son of Smart Chic Olena and is 11 years old, but he still shows like a five year old. He has a record of winning over $16,000 in reining and has qualified for the AQHA World four times. I want to breed a mare to him, because he shows me that he can do things very well and can last in the pen. Plus, people that have seen him in the pen, remember him. This in turn helps me when I want to sell his offspring. Not to mention, that his fee does not break my pocket book. Which brings me to my next point of consideration.
The price of the breeding fee is very important. If the price of the breeding fee is way out of the league of the mare that I am breeding, then I am going to loose money at the time I want to sell her offspring. You still want to breed up with your mare, but not so far up that the quality of your mare narrows your profit or makes it non-existent. Instead look for a stallion that has a proven show record, but possibly does not have a lot of offspring on the ground. This way you get in on the ground floor, so to speak. For example, Smart Chic Olena’s breeding fee was once $750. If you had breed to him back then his offspring would be worth a considerable amount more now.
There is a lot more to this breeding thing than point and pick. There is a difference between a guess and an educated guess. It is worth your while to do the research, and get the best bang for your buck. You are going to be spending the money on the breeding, why not make it the best breeding available to you?
In addition to explaining the fundamentals of reining, I would like to explain the required maneuvers of the sport and how it is judged. At events such as stock shows, many people not familiar with reining attend the horse events. I hope that this article will give you some idea of what to look for in the event of reining. I will break it down into the various maneuvers and explain how each one should be performed. I won’t explain all of the penalties, but I will give you a brief overview.
Patterns call for a combination of 3 circles loped in each direction, including two fast cirlces and one small slow circle. The order of fast and slow is dictated by the pattern being run. All circles should be the same size. This means small, slow circles to the right should be the same size and shape as the small, slow circles to the left. This same rule applies to the large, fast circles. The horse should also be willfully guided in the circles (as well as through out the entire pattern). Deductions are given for a multitude of reasons, including running off or resistance to the bit shown by an open, gaping mouth.
The stop is judged not only on the actual stop, but by the entire approach–the stop, rollback, and departure. The approach should be a gradual increase of speed ending with a complete stop. The horse should willfully roll back over its hocks, loping off in the same tracks. Deductions are given for a gaping mouth, running off in the approach, falling out of stop (or not stopping), falling out of rollback too soon, resistance in the rollback, and trotting into the lope.
Lead changes are to be done in the center of the arena when the pattern calls for it. Deductions are given for a late or early lead change, refusal to change, kicking out in a lead change, and dragging a lead change. Deductions also result from changing on the front but taking two or more strides to change on the rear legs.
Depending on the pattern, most will call for 4 spins in each direction with the exception of a few calling for 4 ¼. The spin should start off smoothly, with no resistance from the horse, and build speed. The spins should stop with the horse facing the designated direction. Penalties are given when the horse does not stop facing the designated direction. If over or under spun by 1/8 of a spin then a penalty is applied. If you over spin by more than ¼ then a 0 is applied to the entire run. Penalties are also given for any hesitation by the horse or freezing in its spins.
I hope that this information will make reining more enjoyable for the first time observer of the sport. For a more in-depth look at the rules and point scale, please refer to an AQHA handbook or an NRHA rule/pattern book.
When I take a horse into training I am not only being paid to ride and train the horse, I feel that it is my job to also evaluate the horse to see if it is going to meet the needs and wants of the owner. For many I am training the horse for them to take to the show pen themselves. For some it is a business and for others it is for the competition and the want to win and excel in a sport.
Taking into consideration the wants and desires of the owners, it is my job to see if the horse that they have chosen has what it takes to meet the goals of the owner. Whether it is the competitor or the one who wants to show and have fun, many of the criteria are the same. The one deciding factor is the horses ability to do it well or excel in his sport. The one thing that does not work for either is a horse that has the ability but lacks the desire to please or the want to do the event that we have chosen for it. If I reach this point in the horses training that I have decided that the horse lacks the want, desire, or ability it is my job to inform the owner that they have a decision to make. Either you change your discipline or you change horses.
This can be a difficult and hard decision for an owner to make. Compounded by the fact that I usually recommend that at this time you cut your losses. Which means make the horse a quick sell which usually means sell it for a loss. It is in your best interest to cut down the price now and take a loss and move on rather than stretch it out and cause a greater loss in the future. Believe me, I don’t like to be the one that tells you that you are going to take a loss on your investment or that you are not going to make as much money on this horse as you thought, but someone has to stop the bleeding.
Let me take a minute and make an example. If you have a horse that you have put 6 months into training and the horse is not going to work out. You have decided that I am right and we need to sell but you have invested 6 months at $800 which comes out to $4,800 and you purchased the horse for $3,000, so you want to sell the horse for $7,000, even though the horse is not working out. You are wanting someone else to purchase a horse at 7K that has some obvious issues to work out and still needs quite a bit more training even if their weren’t issues.
It is at this time that I recommend that you fold’em and not invest more into a loosing proposition. It is not what many want to hear but it is the best thing for most. Lets say that you are stuck on selling for 7K when I recommend that you sell for 5K now and move on. You are going to have to continue to train this horse in order for it to hold its value and if it has some undesirables they are not going to sell fast. Lets say that it takes only two months and it sells for 7K. You have spend another $1,300 in training and another $75 in shoeing along with a commission to the trainer of 700 dollars. You have come out even and have lost two months worth of time that you could have spent looking for another prospect and getting back on track with your goals.
Let me take a minute and address the issue of commissions on horses, cause it is a bone of contention with some. It is common practice in the horse industry that there is a 10% commission on horses that are bought and sold through trainers. I get asked at times why is it that I have to pay you a commission to sell my horse when I pay you each month to train my horse. That is because you pay me each month to train your horse. When it comes to purchasing a horse for one of my clients or sell a horse for one of my clients the commission covers my expenses along with the use of my good name and my good judgment along with the use of my contacts. Not to mention my ability to make the horse look his best when being shown to a possible buyer. You would not ask for your Realtor to forgo a commission on the sale of your house nor would you expect for the car salesman to not get paid for the work he does for the dealership. Sorry I will get off my soap box.
There are two things that go through my mind when choosing a horse for someone. If it were my horse would I mind owning him or her for a long time. And the other is does this horse make me excited to ride. If I have a horse in training that makes me want to ride and that likes what I am doing as much as I do, then I know that I want to hold. It is the same thing that we all want and that is a horse that is a willing partner in the games that we play.
It is also important to not rush to a judgment on young horses and give them a chance to prove themselves. Not all horses show you their talent in just 6 months. Some take some time to develop. It is my job to bring it out and see that talent sometimes before it surfaces. There is also a benefit to having ridden a lot of horses cause some of the bad ones teach you just as much as the good ones. The good ones are easy it is having ridden some of the tricky ones that make you think that you can get that something extra out of them that just never surfaces. Those are the ones that teach you what you don’t want. Sometimes that is more important to know than the other. Mostly cause you don’t want to go down that road again.
I had a good friend in the horse business tell me once a saying that has stuck with me and at times I repeat it to myself when looking at horses. I would rather want something I don’t have than to have something I don’t want. And that about sums it up.
Have you ever heard someone say they just have not learned what buttons to push on their horse to get a certain maneuver? I heard it again the other day. I was being told by someone that their horse had a so many buttons that they just needed to learn which one to push. I think that what these people are trying to say is they do not know the basics.
We hear and read all the time that it is vital for a horse to have a solid foundation. I, along with many others, have written articles explaining just what a solid foundation is, and how important it is for a horse to understand in order to progress into more difficult and advanced maneuvers. What I think that we leave out in this equation is the importance of the riders understanding of the foundation. If more riders had a solid foundation there would be a lot less confusion and misunderstanding when it comes to the advanced maneuvers.
First, we have to understand how we teach the foundation to the horse which is exactly the same way that we teach the rider a solid foundation. I teach a horse the basics by repetition and consistency. From the first day a horse comes into training, (assuming that it is already able to be ridden ) my leg pressure on his right side means to move away from this pressure to the left. This does not change in any way from day one to the last day that I ride him. The more that we practice this the better and more consistent the horse gets.
This concept is the same for the rider. If you practice your riding once a week for twenty minutes, do not expect to become proficient at riding for quite a long time. Nor should you expect for yourself to become familiar with how to use your legs, or strengthen your legs, much less become comfortable using your legs while trying to become comfortable sitting in a saddle. Many riders have to understand that your basics or foundation as a rider is just as important as the foundation that your horse has. This is why so many trainers say that it is best that a first time rider purchases a horse that is more advanced. This is the same reason that you would send your horse to be trained by someone who is more advanced. Someone has to know what they are doing in order to learn.
Example: Your horse does not know math. For the example, you do not either but you both want to learn together. You may get your understanding of the numbers down by seventy percent but eventually you get to addition and subtraction. The other thirty percent of the numbers that have not been learned correctly has grown by ten times. By the time that you have reached multiplication your little problem has gotten so out of control that you have a serious problem and the only way to fix it is to go back and fix your foundation and start over. In order for training to work, one of the two participants has to know what they are doing.
A basic foundation or the fundamentals of training are the same for every event, it is called horsemanship.
My father has built me one of the coolest tack rooms around, and when I am showing it off to someone new the first thing that they say is “Man you have got a lot of bits”. This may not sound odd to you, but it is because they notice this first before they notice that my tack room. It also has a full sized old time western bar in it! Not to mention the beaded wood ceiling and sky light along with the whole thing done in old barn wood. Thanks Dad!!
I have to admit that I am somewhat bit crazy. I just love bits and understanding all of their functions. I probably will not be happy until I have at least a couple hundred bits. So I decided to share a bit of my bit knowledge and their functions. Where better to start than with what I use to start colts.
Typically I will start horses out in their first week or so in the bosal, hackemore, or just a halter and lead rope. This allows me to give them their first ride with little or no pull from me. I will continue on with a halter or bosal for a couple of weeks or until I feel like they are ready for a snaffle bit. I usually make this decision when the colt feels like he is comfortable with me being on his back.
What snaffle bit to use? There are a ton of different snaffle bits out there and all work the same basic way, which is to teach lateral movement to your horse. In my opinion the kind of mouth piece that the snaffle bit has is for the horse and the kind of rings or attachment points are for the rider. What I mean by this is that you can get a snaffle bit that has regulation mouth piece, or one that has a twisted wire, textured, copper inlaid, hinged in the middle to create leverage. All of which come in contact with the mouth and effect the horse and his feel in the mouth. Regulation snaffle is a broken mouth piece being a minimum of 3/8 inch in diameter from the corners, with a gradual taper ending in no less than 5/32 of an inch at the middle of the bit. So, all the twisted wire or textured snaffle does, when used properly is create more feel in the mouth and a faster response for a quicker understanding. This is all based on the fact that a bit is only as harsh as the hands that use it.
The other part to the snaffle is the rings and they come in several different designs which are in my opinion for the rider. You can get O ring, D ring, gag type, and about a hundred different others. For me I prefer the D ring that has a bearing or type of hinge that is made out of stainless steel. I prefer the stainless steel because it lasts longer and does not corrode. The D ring gives me a flatter and more direct pressure to the bars when being used. More so than the O ring. I have also had some O rings that pinched the lip after being used for some time. Also a common mistake that I see being made when using a snaffle is the chin strap. This should be attached below the reins, if attached above the reins it gives leverage against the chin but not an effective leverage. More often it just confuses the young horse.
The snaffle bit in my opinion is one of the more important bits. It is just as important as the condition of the horses mouth. It is extremely important to have your horse’s teeth floated properly, without a comfortable mouth no bit will be comfortable. It is especially important during the young years when the horses mouth is changing so much. A good rule of thumb is to have your horses teeth looked at every 6 months.
Some people have no desire to go to the show pen and compete with their horses. Yet some do nothing but eat, sleep, work (as little as possible) and go to horse shows. Why? What is the lure of the show pen? Besides, it is all about how much silver your saddle has and how expensive your outfit is, right? Not really.
In my eyes the show pen is to make me a better horseman, and to help me make my horse more competitive. If you ride your horse at home, and practice at home, then what reference do you have to judge your progress and your horses capabilities.
I often have people come take a couple of lessons to help them reach the next step in their horsemanship. Often times what they find is that they have actually become so stagnate in their abilities, we have to go back to their basics and redefine those points first, before we move on to the next step.
It is like you are playing tennis with a ball machine and not getting any help or guidance from an instructor. You hit balls with the machine three times a week and feel like you are doing pretty good. But, in reality you do not really have a good idea as to where your game is at until you actually put it into play. That is where you will find your real weaknesses. The same goes for me as a trainer. I have horses in training that I am expected to take to futurities their 3 year old year. I may ride them everyday for a year and feel that they are very good. It is not until I take them out and put them in the show pen with other three year old horses that I really know where they stack up against the competition.
Competition should inspire you to become better and practice more. It should give you goals and levels to reach. There are so many arenas to compete in with horses now days that you can compete at any level you desire. Here are a couple that come to mind; open shows, breed shows, event specific shows. You should start at the type of shows that complements the breed and type of horse that you have. Then pick the type of show environment that suites you as an individual. Let me give you a list of association shows that I compete at and why. This will give you an idea as to how they are set up and what about them draws me to them.
In the last article we talked about some of the tools of the trade, one being your brain and seeking knowledge and the other being the martingale. In this article I would like to talk about another piece of tack that is sometimes overlooked as a source of a problem. That would be your saddle and pad.
An improperly fitted saddle and pad that is uncomfortable can lead to a lot of discomfort in your horses back. This will show up in dry spots after riding and eventually soars on the area around the withers and down the back. This effects not just the comfort level of your horse but also their performance and attitude towards training. Lets think about it in human terms for just a second. If you had a soar spot in your back and could not tell a single person about it, yet your boss continued to work you. Lets say that your job is picking up boxes and you start to arch your bad to compensate for the pain but that lead to you putting to much stress on your knees and eventually your knees hurt along with your back. Eventually you just quit from the pain and your boss sends you to the doctor cause your knees are bad so he fixes it but sends you back to work with the same bad back. There are a lot of times that we have to look at our horses ailments a little deeper than just the surface.
The saddle may fit you well but may be very uncomfortable for you horse. If this is the case and you do not want to go through the hassle of finding one that fits you both, there are pads that you can get that are molded to fit your horses back which makes him comfortable and also allows you to be comfortable too.
It is also important to use protection boots on your horse if you are working them in a performance manner or teaching them to learn a new maneuver.