LM Shim Systems for Saddles
Shims pads create a soft but supportive interface between your horse and its saddle. The shims can yield with the relaxing and contacting of the horses back muscles when it is in motion. They allow room for the back to lift and widen. If the horse hollows or drops its back, the shims still cushion the back and shoulder area.
For many horses with well-developed backs, they may only use a slim shim just behind each shoulder under the widest part of the saddle, at the front.
When working with a horse who has muscle atrophy, muscle asymmetry and/or compromised posture we will take a remedial approach to the saddle fitting. In most cases this means using a saddle tree width that more closely reflects the width/shape of the horse once its muscles are no longer wasted. It involves using extra layers of shims to support the saddle where most needed; where the horse’s muscle is lacking, where there is muscle asymmetry or when the posture of the back is dropped. The extra shims form a yielding but more supportive layer between the back of the horse and the saddle. The number of shim layers used can be increased or decreased as the horse and saddle require*. (*It is important that the saddle remains balanced front to back with the lowest, flattest point of the seat being in the middle).
You can choose whether you use a saddle pad or numnah with built in shim sections, or a half pad with shims that is used in conjunction with a well designed saddle cloth or numnah. Your horse may show a preference for wool, sheepskin, cotton or other against its skin.
Adjusting your Shims
Whatever combination is used, when adjusting shims it is important to monitor and check that the saddle remains balanced front to back with the lowest, flattest point of the seat being in the middle.
For example: If your saddle is sitting low at the front end and the back of the panels are lifting in trot, then lowest point of your saddle seat will be closer to the rise of the pommel.
Shim correction: The shims at the front >middle will need increasing. The reverse pattern applies.
Lateral asymmetrical shims: When your horses is more developed one side than the other, the shims can be a little less easy to work out as they will be specific to your horse and to begin with it is best discussed with your LM Consultant.