Its about bumps, that occurs after the horse is ridden.

Those that are visible after unsaddling, that reabsorb on their own in a few hours or a few days, and are not painful.
After many years of wondering about the cause of these bumps, seeing horses with this type of lesion, dealing with riders who feel powerless, saddlers who tear their hair out because they can’t find what’s wrong with their saddle (because yes, we’re talking here about bumps with adapted saddles naturally!)… we’ve finally started to glimpse a cause that seems to be confirmed.


What if it was because of the asymmetry?

After sharing lots of articles on the subject based on research work, and learning from all sorts of sources. I began to know better what to observe to find the cause… This article is the result of my observations and my empirical attempts to understand what creates these famous bumps.


A brief biomechanical explanation

Biomechanically speaking, the horse’s ribcage is mobile between the shoulders. The link between the shoulders and the ribcage is exclusively muscular. The horse has no clavicle. In lateroflexion, as in rotation. Each time a horse raises a front leg, the ribcage will “turn” to the side where the limb is raised. When there is no asymmetry this is not too important as there is generally as much movement to the left and right of the saddle and it remains stable overall.

The rotation of the ribcage, a normal and natural movement of the horse as long as it is not above 5° (seen from the front).

When the horse is asymmetrical, the rib cage turns more to one side than the other. The saddle is driven and, by its construction, clings to the horse’s spine. It therefore “pulls” the horse’s skin more to one side than the other.

It is this pulling of the skin more to one side than the other that causes inflammation between the heads of the vertebrae (or on the edges of the spine, or on the bottom of the panels).

Saddle turning more to one side than the other (front view)

How can I tell if my horse is lopsided?

We can analyse the presence of asymmetry by filming from behind, well in line, and observing the movement of the saddle. If the saddle remains centred or if it moves a lot from left to right (possible hyperlaxity if the saddle is adapted) or if it always moves to one side (possible asymmetry if the saddle is adapted).

Here you can see the rear of the saddle offset to the left and not at all to the right.

Why are they created?

  • With each stride, the saddle turns to the left.
  • The front of the saddle panel “tackles” the horse’s skin on the right side of the withers almost continuously (blue area).
  • At the back of the saddle, the skin is pulled by the back of the panel towards the left with each stride.
  • The area where the skin rubs against the spine (red zone) is therefore the area of inflammation that will create the bumps, which is an inflammatory reaction of the structures under the skin.

How can I help with bumps?

There are many possible causes
Finding the cause is the most reliable way of helping.

Here are a few causes that I have found empirically in my work (and without diagnostic value, refer to your vet for information relating to your own horse)

1. The young horse.

He still lacks muscle tone and lateral stability. What works with this type of case is the “split” mat in the middle, like the Gaston Mercier. This hole allows the skin to be pulled less.
The same goes for small, thin gel with holes, such as eze gel. It’s warming, so use it for short periods, not hours of riding, but it can give good results.
Over time, the horse will become more and more toned and the saddle will not move as much.

2. The asymmetrical horse (or hyperlax)

Compare the shape and size of your horse’s hooves on the left and right. If there is a large difference in shape, this is often a symptom of an “old” asymmetry in your horse’s body. When the hooves receive a different weight on the left and right sides because the ribcage is more “turned” to one side than the other, they will grow in a different shape. This means that the body has already “long ago” adapted to this difference in weight between the left and right sides.
The saddle simply follows this asymmetry.
As it is difficult to clearly diagnose the cause of the High Low (the different hoof shape between left and right), you can try to work on the musculature. This may simply be linked to laterality (being left- or right-handed), which is perfectly normal.
Specific work needs to be discussed with a specialist, as each horse is unique in terms of conformation, musculature, etc. Physiotherapists are among the most effective, but I don’t know many of them at the moment.

I totally corrected my horse’s asymmetry with work. So it’s possible 😉

While this remusculation/symmetrisation work is being carried out, you can put on wedges, also via a specialist, as this is very counter-intuitive.
It’s not uncommon to wedge a right-turning saddle to the left…
I have lots of examples of customers who have managed to do this too, but there needs to be a follow-up, because you have to manage the shims as you resymmetrise, otherwise you’ll get the problem on the other side…

Traces of perspiration or sweat/dirt under the carpet are a very reliable indicator of an asymmetry problem and can be used to monitor symmetrisation work.

3. Blocking the pendulum

For the record, I heard from the rider whose horse had the bumps in the title photo. Her horse no longer has any bumps since she let her horse’s head be freer.
Our arms are our balance wheels, which we use reflexively when we’re off balance.
If we tie up our arms, our body will have to contort itself much more to get back into balance.

It’s the same for horses: their head and neck are their body’s pendulum. So if we restrict this balancing movement of the head and neck by using very fixed reins, we “force” the body to contort itself more.

It’s not very complicated to put into practice, but it’s certainly worth a try!
Thank you to this rider for her feedback!

Conclusion

Often considered to be caused by poor saddle fitting, yes of course this will be the first thing we check.
But if nothing is found and if you try several saddles and the phenomenon continues, the best way to treat is to look for the primary cause. This is very often caused by the horse.