The saddle is the interface between horse and rider. The proper fit of the saddle is critical to provide the horse and rider with the best interface possible. If the saddle does not fit correctly, the horse’s range of motion may not only become limited, but the rider cannot correctly apply aides. This leads to much frustration for horse and rider as often we do not understand why our horse does not respond to the aids and the horse cannot figure out quickly what the rider is asking. Sadly, poor saddle fit can also lead to tissue damage – many of us have seen the white hairs on horse’s withers. This damage is not reversible. A bad fit is like a vicious cycle and in extreme cases can become a danger for riders and horses begin to respond more strongly due to pain on their backs.
Part of the saddle fit evaluation is evaluating the saddle itself, its overall quality, material make-up, symmetry and stuffing, plus any objects protruding through the leather or other material onto the horses back, possibly creating pressure points.
Here is what we look for in more detail:
The saddle channel / gullet –should have a 3 finger clearance to allow space for the spine and to prevent lateral pressure or discomfort.
Clearance through pommel and does the saddle sit more forward or backward on the horses back. An even distribution is desirable.
Check front of saddle / angle of the tree – checking for evenness and does the saddle match the horses body plus even pressure distribution.
Balance point of saddle for rider. Is it centered?
Bridging – checking for pressure in front and back – look for even distribution across the panels.
Rocking of saddle. Does it move back and forward?
As much panel on back as possible – an even distribution is desirable.
We do not provide re-flocking or adjustments of the saddle’s tree and leave this skilled work to certified Master Saddlers.
Saddle Fitting is not a substitute for proper veterinary medical care, but rather serves as a compliment. If your horse is ill or injured, seek appropriate medical attention from a qualified veterinary practitioner.