Saddle Fitting Guide
When buying a saddle, listed below are some of the things you need to look for.
Saddle fit for horse + Saddle fit for rider = Balanced rider
Consider these points:
- Head shaking?
- Makes faces when you approach with a saddle?
- Bites or shakes his head when girthing.
- Twitching in saddle area under your brush / touch.
- When mounted, do you feel pushed forward? Or are you tipped back?
- Is the saddle level? Particularly when mounted Pommel and cantle should be level? (some exceptions depends on Make)
- Does the saddle swing at the back - not to be confused with his hips moving side to side? A saddle may (needs) to lift to allow this movement hence springing in tree. It must always return with the gullet over dorsal line.
- Tosses his head when jumping or in rising trot?
- Tosses his head up and down particularly coming homewards from hacking?
- Nap or rear? Heavy on the forehand with short stride?
- Tracks up after warm up? Refuses fences?
- Does he move as well as when on his own in the field? Moving freely forward? Is he soft to the bit and free in shoulder movement?
- Down hill is he freely forward or mincing his steps.
- Does he have white patches OR hollows behind the wither?
- Does he have poor top line dropping each side of the spine?
- Is his coat rippled when you remove saddle?
- Do you consider he is nuts!!!
If any of these issues occur your saddle probably does not fit, the tree does not match his frame. Most likely it will be the incorrect width for his shoulder.
Does the saddle push to one side? (Tip with saddle on horse, stand in front of head and look at shoulders each side, get horse to lower head straight to front ON level ground and gauge shoulder shape each side, use bucket food, or tidbits. If his shoulder is more pronounced on right from front then the saddle will be pushed to your right as you ride – you will need to do more circles to left to stretch and develop his shoulder on his right hand side.)
To avoid saddle rubs use your saddle straight on the horse's back. Damp and movement will mould it to his changing shape as he develops and make it much more comfortable to the horse!
Most riders choose a saddle for looks or fashion, it is a must have because of the name. They do not realise they are paying for the advertising of that name! Many saddles are made by one person businesses if the saddle is of excellent quality there is no need for a name as they are sold as soon as they are made, these are craftsmen in their own right
However your comfort is your choice, every rider has a different feel, a different width of pelvis / seat bones, also a different length of leg "knee to hip". This determines what size saddle you require, every rider has their own style! Some insist on riding short and gripping with their knees and have been taught to ride this way instead of on 3 point seat with longer leg.
The space above the wither is important but NOT the only criteria for saddle fitting, it is not a specified height! Also where the girth hangs and fits the horse is down to the horse’s conformation. Slope of horses shoulder, conformation, ribs, panel depth, weight of rider all determine a comfortable fit.
It may not be your riding after all that is at fault. I have large selection of used saddles.
You are welcome to email pictures for an opinion.
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