Fitting the correct saddle to your horse is extremely important as the saddle is the link between the horse and the rider. It must not only fit the horse but also the rider and be suitable for the task and kind of riding you are going to be doing. A correct fitting saddle improves the way your horse will work, making them more willing.
Instead of looking for the fanciest saddle or the cheapest deal, take a few minutes to get a proper saddle measurement and outfit your horse with the best saddle for its body to allow for movement without pinching or pain.
When fitting a saddle to your horse, always do it on an even surface with you horse looking straight and have nothing underneath the saddle. Throughout the saddle fitting process, you should monitor your horse's response. Watch his ears and body language as your horse is the most honest indicator we have when fitting a saddle.
To have the best fit these are the things you will need to check;
Clearance along the spine or backbone of the horse, which means not touching. Check it with the rider mounted.
We also need to remember that horses change shape, they put on weight and they take it off. They age, lose muscle and build muscle up. So keep checking the clearance along the spine.
Make sure the saddle has an even bearing; even pressure over the horse’s back
This can be one of the most difficult to check but it is very important.
On a horse that is straight backed a saddle with a rounded panel will rock like a rocking horse. For the same reason, on a hollow-backed horse a saddle with a straight panel will touch in the front and rear only which will be pressure points. A saddle with a wide gullet on a narrow withered horse will contribute to pressure points near the top of the shoulder.
A good way to check If there is even distribution is for the rider to girth up the saddle and allow the rider to mount. You should check with your fingers to feel the amount of pressure down from the withers and behind the flap to the rear of the panel. Try have the rider raise their leg and check under the flap -It has its limitations but is often the only way you can check it.
Check the bars of the saddle
You will also need to check the bar slope which is the part of the saddle that forms the gullet and hold the saddle on the horse’s back. The bars run along the length of the spine, and should be in contact continuously along the horse’s back if the saddle fits correctly. If the bars are too straight, they will only meet with the withers and the croup of the horse’s back, causing briding. If the bars are too curved, they will touch only the centre of the horse’s back and cause the saddle to rock in between the withers and the croup. You will need to check the bar flare, if the bars flare outwards at the front and back of the saddle to prevent chafing and rubbing while riding. If the saddle fits, the front of the saddle tree should flare out slightly. If the saddle is too small, there won’t be any bar flare and it will be very uncomfortable to your horse. Bar Width is also an importanaspect as some horses are very wide across their backs, while others are very narrow. To tell if the saddle fits your horse’s back size, see where the bars sit. If they rest very high up, almost on top of the spine, then the saddle is too narrow. If the bars slide down very far past the spine, then the saddle is too wide.
The bar width is closely related to the gullet clearance; a too-narrow bar width will cause a larger gullet space while a too-wide bar width will cause little to no gullet clearance
Select the right saddle
There are a variety of saddles and styles, they are english and western traditional english, hunter, dressage, and jumper varieties. Western saddle options include traditional western, endurance, barrel racing, and roping styles. It is important you choose the right saddle for the kind of riding you need.
You need to match the saddle length to the horse and the rider. A short-coupled horse with too long a saddle may become damaged in the loins and kidneys aswell as give the horse saddle sores. This will irritate the horse and will contribute to a uncomfortable ride for the rider as well. A short saddle on a long-backed horse will not distribute the weight over a large area as is desirable with a comfortable fit. Generally the more modern saddle will not have as much problems in this area, but watch out for some of the older ones.
Check the saddle
Check for an absence of lumps and solid objects in the padding, tacks could fall into the flock during the padding process. Also excessive use and sweating may cause salt-laden sweat to soak through into the padding, then when it evaporates it leaves salt encrustations behind. So check your panel for hard lumps and solid objects.
A good fit
Try and have as close contact as possible. the padding, the tree and the seat must take up as little thickness as possible
horse’s back must be saddle fit. have you ever worn a new pair of shoes or other footwear to town for the day a tramp in borrowed boots? Or carried a pack for a few days blisters, chafing and considerable discomfort unless we allow time for our skin to desensitize, thicken, and become fit. your horse’s back needs time to become saddle fit,
Take your seat measurement
saddle that you sit in is known as the ‘seat’ variety of sizes for the multiple body-types
To measure your seat, sit in a chair with your back against the chair back and your feet on the floor. Use a soft measuring tape and measure the distance from your knee cap to the crease in your hip. 13-19-inches for an adult. online seat converter and enter in your physical attributes (weight, height, etc.) to get an immediate measurement instead of measuring yourself
Determine your size in an English saddle
approximately equates as:
• A leg/seat measurement of 16.5-inches or less equals a 15-inch saddle.
• A leg/seat measurement of 16.5-18.5 inches equals a 16-inch saddle.
• A leg/seat measurement of 18.5-20 inches equals a 16.5-inch saddle.
• A leg/seat measurement of 20-21.5 inches equals a 17-inch saddle.
• A leg/seat measurement of 21.5-23 inches equals a 17.5-inch saddle.
•A leg/seat measurement larger than 23 inches will fit an 18-inch or 19-inch saddle
For the Western Saddle the easiest conversion is to subtract two inches from the size of your English saddle,
• A leg/seat measurement of 16.5-inches or less equals a 13-inch saddle.
• A leg/seat measurement of 16.5-18.5 inches equals a 14-inch saddle.
• A leg/seat measurement of 18.5-20 inches equals a 15-inch saddle.
• A leg/seat measurement of 20-21.5 inches equals a 15.5-inch saddle.
• A leg/seat measurement of 21.5-23 inches equals a 16-inch saddle.
•A leg/seat measurement larger than 23 inches will fit an 17-inch or 18-inch saddle
How to tell if your english saddle fits you.
saw-horse or your horse and sit in it as you would for riding. You should be able to fit four fingers on the cantle behind your seat. If you can’t fit at least four fingers, the saddle is too small. whole hand or more flat against the cantle, the saddle is too big.
For western saddle for proper fit will allow three to four fingers to fit between the fork/swell and your thigh. If you can fit more than four fingers, the saddle is too large. If you can’t fit at least three fingers, the saddle is too small.
Position of the saddle
Put the prospective saddle on your horse’s back without a saddle pad or blanket. Move it so that it is in the accurate position front of the saddle should rest on the withers without blocking the shoulder and the back should go no further than the last rib bone. Move the saddle back an forth a few times to find the ‘sweet spot’.check the gullet A proper fitting saddle will allow you to see all the way through the gullet when viewed from the back. can’t fit at least 2 fingers in the gullet from the front, the saddle tree is too small for your horse and will pinch their spine. more than three fingers in the gullet from the front, then the saddle tree is too large and will cause rocking and saddle sores on your horse.
Test the girth. When you get the girth tightened on your horse, you should be able to fit four fingers side-by-side between the front of the girth and your horse’s shoulders. An ill-fitting saddle may cause the girth to fall forwards or slide backwards.
- Clearance over the spine
- Even bearing
- Match the length
- No lumps or solid bits
- As close as possible
- A fit back
Throughout the saddle testing/fitting process, keep an eye on your horse