I've been running my horse Smoke on barrels for the past five years. About two months ago Smoke started balking at the gate. I had someone come out and work on him, identifying that Smoke was out in his right shoulder and in his pelvic area. We thought that treating him would help him feel better. Though Smoke is not as bad at the gate after his treatment, he's still balking. Now I'm thinking it's his saddle. Do you think your Sure Fit Saddle Pad from Reinsman will help? I know you are going to say "yes," but that's quite a bit of money to put out, if it's not going to work. Thank you for your time.
I am sorry to hear you are having challenges that certainly can take some of the fun out of competition. I admire your "process of elimination" trying to locate the problem... and I will not say "yes" to the Sure Fit Pad unless I think it may be a resource that will help your situation. I am not out for the "sale" unless it benefits the customer, and most importantly, the horse.
The Sure Fit Orthopedic pad was designed to elevate the shoulder and wither area of a saddle that is sitting too low and wide. A saddle should sit level and the bars should mirror the shape of the horse’s back. It is also designed to fill in the hollow area behind the wither area that can be quite pronounced depending on your horse’s conformation. If your saddle seems to fit low in front, which could inhibit the movement of the shoulder, or does not produce an even sweat pattern, Reinsman’s Sure Fit Orthopedic, or the Sure Fit Orthopedic PRO, which offers more adjustability, may provide a solution.
If you haven't already, give your saddle a good once over. Feel the under side and make sure there are no protruding screws or nails. Also make sure your tree is not broken or cracked. When you saddle your horse, make sure you are creating a pocket, by using your hand to cup the pad under the saddle gullet across your horse's wither area before you cinch up. Also try moving your saddle slightly back off the shoulder area. A good rule of thumb is to have four fingers distance between the horse's elbow and the cinch.
There are many things that could be causing your balking issues, including rider’s nerves, performance anxiety, possible horse ulcers, soreness of limb, back stifle, and hock. Dental issues can also cause problems. Again, I complement you on researching your options.
Keep us posted on your findings,