How To Tell If A Saddle Fits A Horse? (Solved)

Signs of a Bad Saddle Fit for your Horse You should be able to stick two of your fingers between the saddle gullet and your horse’s withers. The saddle should have even contact along both sides of the bars. After girthing up, your saddle should look even on the horse’s back, not tipping up or drooping down.

How do you tell if your saddle doesn’t fit your horse?

15 signs your saddle doesn’t fit – negative behaviour in your

  1. Avoidance behaviours – trying to walk away when being tacked up.
  2. Ears back/head shaking when saddle comes close by.
  3. Excessive tail swishing both in the stable and when ridden.
  4. Pawing the ground.
  5. Threatening to bite you when you come close with the saddle.

How do you know what size saddle to get for your horse?

There should be about four inches between your body and the swell of the saddle. Anything less than that may mean a too-small saddle, and a bigger gap means the saddle may be on the large size. Larger may be more comfortable for you. Western riders with longer legs should choose a larger-size saddle.

How do I know if my saddle fits correctly?

With your saddle correctly positioned, put your hand underneath and slide your fingers along the panel. If it doesn’t feel equally snug from front to back, it’s “bridging”–and the places where it’s tight will becomes sore from the extra pressure.

What happens if a saddle is too wide?

When a saddle is too wide in the front, it can sink down over the withers. This takes the saddle out of balance by making the pommel lower than the cantle, which in turn carries more pressure over the front of the tree (at the withers/shoulders) than a saddle with a properly sized tree.

What size saddle do I need for a 15hh horse?

Bruce a 15hh riding horse, nicely put together. Scapular to last rib 47cm/18 ¼” when you take off 5cm/2” for shoulder movement, that gives you 42cm /16” very small space for a saddle on a 15hh horse. 16.5” saddle set as far back as it can go without going past the last rib.

What size saddle do I need English?

A good rule of thumb is that an English saddle seat size will run around two inches larger than a Western saddle. So, if you ride a 15.5” Western saddle, you will likely need a 17.5” English saddle.

How do I know if my saddle is too wide?

If the points are too wide, the saddle will sit low in front, putting pressure on top of the withers or the back. If your horse has hollow spots behind his withers, the points should not press down into them.

Why is my saddle lifting at the back?

In the first part of this series we talked about the three most common causes that a saddle will lift up at the back – too wide a bar spread, too wide a bar angle and too much rock in the bar for the horse. ( front bar tip behind the shoulder blade) – and step back.

What sweat marks tell you about saddle fit?

Sweat marks only in the rear could mean you have too much pressure at the back of your saddle (check seat size is correct and the balance of your saddle – where is it bearing weight most?) Sweat marks in front could mean your saddle is too narrow at the shoulders or the position needs to be addressed.

What to do if your saddle doesn’t fit your horse?

“If the saddle doesn’t fit the horse properly at the withers and the shoulders, every time the shoulder comes back, it will hitch against the tree point and push the saddle forward.” Solution: The saddle needs to be properly adjusted at the gullet plate (if possible); otherwise, a different saddle would be the answer.

How do I know if my saddle is full or semi bars?

Measure the gullet by stretching a measuring tape from concho to concho across the front of the saddle, not over the top. Saddles with semi-quarter horse bars usually have gullets of 6 1/2 inches to 6 3/4 inches, while those with full quarter horse bars will feature gullets of 7 inches.

Signs of a Bad Saddle Fit

A properly fitted saddle will result in a safe, balanced, and comfortable ride. Your horse will be well-behaved, healthy, and happy as a result of your efforts. Your riding abilities will be boosted and improved as a result of this experience. A terrible saddle fit for you and your horse can be detected without the need for technical knowledge. The majority of the time, your own body or your horse will communicate this to you clearly and loudly. Simply paying attention to how your horse behaves and how your body feels will allow you to determine whether or not you have the proper fit for your horse if you are quite positive that you have the suitable gullet size for your horse.

Signs of a Bad Saddle Fit for your Horse

Take a look at the saddle that’s been placed on the horse. If you can fit two of your fingers between the saddle gullet and the withers of your horse, you are in good shape. There should be equal contact between the saddle and the bars on both sides. After girthing up, your saddle should seem level on the horse’s back, with no tilting up or sagging down. Visit our articlehere for a more detailed explanation of the link between gullet width, bar angle, and how the tree should be positioned in the hole.

It should have the appearance of a horse’s back.

There should be no unusual dry areas on the horse’s back, which would suggest that proper contact between the horse’s back and the saddle is not being created.

If your horse is riding in a new saddle and begins to behave strangely, pay close attention to what is happening.

Some of the more typical behavioral indications that something is amiss with your horse include the following:

  • The dog raises his ears, wags his tail, and throws his head back and forth. When you try to girth up or ride him, horse walks away. The horse bites the saddle
  • Excessive stumbling or a complete refusal to move is displayed
  • When you touch his back, he becomes more sensitive. The longer you ride, the more agitated it becomes
  • Can’t seem to get comfortable in the saddle
  • When he slows down or bucks, he rushes away for no apparent reason.

Tell-tale Sign of a Bad Fit

Saddle sores are caused by friction or pressure and are frequently the result of tack or saddles that are excessively tight or too loose, causing the horse to rub against the gear or saddle. Sores can also be caused by a filthy horse, ill-fitting equipment, or riding out of balance.

Dry Spots

After a ride, the horse’s back, with the exception of the spine, should be equally moist. Dry areas suggest an excessive amount of pressure in a single location. If left untreated, these patches will develop into white hairs.

Temporary Swelling

Your horse’s back is being put under too much pressure, which produces a restriction in blood flow and therefore causes edema.

White Hairs

White hairs are generated by excessive pressure being applied to the same area.

The pressure reduces blood flow, which causes the sweat glands to die, resulting in the appearance of white hair.

Muscle Atrophy

The saddle is most likely squeezing the horse’s back, preventing the muscles from working and developing when the rider is on it.

Signs of a Bad Saddle Fit for You

On the other hand, a well-fitting saddle for your horse does not always equate to the most pleasant ride for you as the passenger. It should be emphasized that the more riding experience you have, the more comfortable a proper saddle fit will feel to you. In this case, if you are a novice rider, you may want the assistance of an experienced rider to verify your saddle fit; your pain may be due to your riding style rather than the saddle. The following, on the other hand, are indications that the saddle you’re riding isn’t a suitable fit for you:

  • Having a sense of insecurity while riding a horse
  • Feeling off balance or off center, as though you’re about to lose your equilibrium
  • Having trouble maintaining your alignment between your hips and shoulders
  • Knee discomfort

Our saddle fit specialists are available and happy to assist you with saddle fit issues. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-866-880-2121.

English Saddle Fitting Guidelines

In the event of saddle fit issues, our saddle specialists are available and happy to assist. You may reach us at 1-866-880-2121 if you have any questions or concerns.

  • Available at competitive rates
  • Requires little care
  • Can be cleaned with soap and water
  • Is lightweight
  • Is almost waterproof
  • Is long-lasting

Leather Saddles Have a Number of Advantages:

  • Available at a variety of pricing points
  • Develops a pleasing patina
  • Make a break for the rider’s seat
  • Some leathers have a better grip than others. If properly maintained, it has a high resale value. With regular maintenance, it will last a long time.

How Can I Tell if my Saddle Fits Correctly?

By Jochen Schleese, CMS, Equine ErgonomistQ: Can you tell me about your horse? My horse is a Thoroughbred with a mildly roached (convex or round) back, which I enjoy riding. How can I tell whether my saddle is the proper size for my body type? A: We have nine main points of saddle fit that are absolutely consistent across all saddles and all horses; therefore, if you want to determine whether or not your saddle fits your horse properly, these nine points should be considered, and each of these nine points has video instruction on our website at.

  1. When riding on a horse’s back, the center of the saddle (seat area) should remain parallel to the ground at all times.
  2. 3 – Wither Clearance: Clearance should be available throughout the building, not simply at the top.
  3. 4) Full Panel Contact: The panel should contact the horse’s back equally from front to rear; certain panels may be made higher at the cantle to allow the horse’s back to rise during engagement.
  4. The girth will always make its way to the narrowest part of the rib cage, just behind the elbow, regardless of the situation.
  5. The weight of the rider should be concentrated solely on the saddle support region.
  6. The tree points should be positioned behind both scapulae on the right side (shoulder blades).
  7. 9 – Width of the Saddle Tree: The width of the saddle tree should be sufficient to allow the saddle to fit comfortably when the horse is in motion.

(See illustration.) Schleese Saddlery provided the photograph.

Western Saddle Fitting 101: Tips on Proper Fit, Selecting Saddle Pads, Cinches and More

The likelihood is that your body would exhibit symptoms of (significant) discomfort if your blue jeans were two sizes too tight, including pinching and red marks. Now, unless they’re the very last pair of jeans you own, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever put those pants on again, let alone tomorrow, the following day, or for several days. Take a moment to consider what your horse could be going through if he is rode in an incorrectly fitted saddle on a regular basis. What is the fit of your saddle on your horse?

  1. Because of an incorrect saddle fit, your weight is distributed unevenly, which can lead to pressure areas, rub marks, pain, or the formation of white saddle spots on your horse.
  2. Keep in mind that some horses are more stoic than others, so be aware of this.
  3. If your saddle rests flat on your horse’s back and the bars of the tree do not pinch, your saddle is a good fit for him.
  4. If the front of the saddle sits higher than the back of the saddle, your saddle is too thin.
  5. If the front of the saddle is lower than the back, your saddle is too broad.
  6. This occurs when the gullet of the saddle is too low and rests on the withers of your horse, causing pain and suffering.
  7. Western saddles are available for purchase.
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What to Look for When Purchasing a Saddle Pad Choosing a saddle pad is a significant decision that should not be made just on the basis of appearance and color patterns.

Avoid over-padding your horse, which is a popular technique that might result in your saddle rolling and sliding around more readily.

Saddle pads and blankets are available for purchase.

Brodie Poppino, a Professional’s Choice salesperson and professional rodeo cowboy, demonstrates how to correctly measure and fit a cinch to your saddle in the video above.

Choosing a CinchThere are two sorts of cinches to consider when selecting a cinch for your horse and saddle.

Using a roper cinch that is broad and contoured, the weight of the horse is distributed more evenly across a greater region of the horse’s body, decreasing painful pressure on the horse’s tummy when the cinch is tightened.

Overtightening a cinch can cause your horse to feel pressure and pain before you even get into the stirrups.

Cleaning and lubricating your tack on a regular basis can assist to keep it from breaking and will also protect the leather.

To ensure your safety, pay strict attention to the condition of your tack and the quality of your leather components.

Does it appear that they are lubricated and secure, and that there is no evidence of dry rot or cracking? If that’s the case, best wishes. If this is the case, it is time to get it repaired or replaced for the sake of your safety. Leather care products can be found here.

7 Signs of Saddle-Fit Problems

When was the last time you wore a pair of boots that needed to be broken in? For your horse, even the most attractive new saddle might be uncomfortably tight. Did they scuff your heels or pinch your toes while you were sleeping? Things’s likely that you found a method to make it better, whether it was with a strategically positioned moleskin or a pair of special socks. There’s a good possibility you didn’t simply stroll about the barn in them for hours on end in those shoes. What’s more, guess what?

It might involve rubbing, pinching, or applying pressure to an inflamed area of the body.

Your horse is reliant on you to recognize when he is in distress and to take the necessary steps to alleviate the situation.

Orthopedic Gel Saddle Pad in Relentless Black Color Tough-1 Pad with a Hand-Painted Finish Equine Biofit Pad in the Classic Style The Professional’s Preference Tan Comfort Fit Shirt Rancher with a 5-Star Flex Fit rating In our capacity as an Amazon Associate, we receive a commission for qualifying orders made via our affiliate links.

The things to look out for, what to do if a problem does arise, and most importantly how to avoid difficulties in the first place will all be covered in this chapter.

Sign1: Withers Swelling

A little, elevated spot on either side of your horse’s withers that appears every time you ride, but that fades just as quickly as it appeared before you started riding again. It is possible to form a depression in the centre of the swelling by pushing forcefully on it, as if you were pressing down on a firm loaf of bread dough. This swelling is caused by edema, which is fluid that has accumulated beneath his skin. The withers are the most typical location for edema to occur in horses, although it is possible to detect this sort of swelling at any other position along the borders of the horse’s spine.

  1. What it signifies is as follows: In the event that you see edema on your horse’s withers after riding, it’s likely that your saddle isn’t correctly fitted to him.
  2. An insufficiently wide or small gullet will squeeze and put pressure on the sides of his spine, causing him pain.
  3. They may even advance to the point of being open sores.
  4. Check the fit of the saddle.
  5. Instead, visit and search for instructional videos on Western saddle fitting: the appropriate technique to fit a horse, which may be found there.
  6. More with a correctly fitting saddle, a too-thick pad can induce pressure because it forces you to tighten the saddle even tighter in order to keep the pad from shifting.

If the swelling is unpleasant and persistent, refrain from riding until the problem is addressed, and see your veterinarian about whether it would be necessary to treat the affected region with a topical anti-inflammatory drug (such as Surpass) to calm it down.

Sign2: Armpit Pinch

In the picture, you can see patches of thinning hair or crusty skin on his side, just below the waistline. A “girth gall” or “cinch sore” can develop in this region even after a single ride, causing it to become hot, painful, and weepy. These sores are known in horseman’s circles as “girth galls” or “cinch sores.” What it signifies is as follows: Your horse’s cinch is causing him irritation on his back. Cinch sores can occur for a number of different reasons. In other cases, it’s conceivable that your saddle is sitting in an inappropriate position on his back, causing his cinch to creep forward behind his elbows, where the skin is more susceptible to become pinched.

  • Your horse may also be sensitive to the material, or reactive to a piece of hardware or other design component of the cinch, which can be frustrating for you.
  • The Farnam Wound Care System for Horses and Dogs as well as Cattle and Ponies includes a powder, dressings, and protective dressings.
  • Maintain the cleanliness of the region and apply a soothing ointment to it.
  • Check the fit of your saddle.
  • Some horses are sensitive to neoprene, so if you’re currently wearing a neoprene cinch, you should switch to leather.
  • A cinch or cover lined with sheepskin is another suitable option for horses that are sensitive to other materials like as leather.
  • Weaver Leather Airflex CinchClassic Equine Mohair/Alpaca CinchProfessional’s Choice SMX Western CinchWeaver Leather Airflex CinchWeaver Leather Airflex Cinch

Sign3: Dead Back

It looks like this: When you run your flat hand over our horse’s back, beneath where the saddle rests, you’ll notice a flattened, “dead-feeling” patch that’s most often placed just under where you’d be positioned in the saddle seat. These flattened regions can sometimes even be seen on the surface of the water. What it signifies is as follows: These dead zones are frequently formed when pressure on the affected location causes diminished blood flow to the surrounding tissues to become visible.

Action: Check the fit of the saddle.

However, do not make the mistake of merely adding additional layers of padding, since this will just exacerbate the situation. In the same way as wearing an additional pair of socks when your shoes don’t fit is an example,

Sign4: Going Bald

What you’ll notice: Bald spots or areas of damaged hair beneath your saddle, depending on your gender. What it signifies is as follows: Your saddle is pushing on your horse’s skin, causing the hair on his neck and shoulders to fall out. A saddle that doesn’t fit properly and moves too much when your horse is working may cause this to occur. Such rubbings may occur practically everywhere on your body, but they’re most prevalent under your seat because of its position. Rubs can arise if there is an exposed piece of leather or metal, a damaged piece of hardware, or if anything is broken and rubbing against the horse’s skin, for example.

Try to get a pad that will assist to keep it securely in place even while your horse is working hard.

If your saddle appears to be in fine working order, consider placing a sheepskin pad right on your horse’s skin.

Bald patches and thinning hair are early indicators of impending disaster.

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Sign5: Bumpy Back

What you should look for: Look for hard nodules on the back of your horse. Similarly to dead patches and rubs, these nodules are most typically found under the area where you sit or stand. Furthermore, they can be seen on either side of the withers. You may only be able to notice them on one side of your horse, especially if he is asymmetrical or if you have a propensity to sit crookedly in your saddle. The rough nodules on your horse’s skin are rarely uncomfortable for him. What it signifies is as follows: It is possible for nodules to form in the deep layers of tissue beneath your horse’s skin when there is tissue death and scarring.

Action: Check the fit of the saddle.

If the nodules are particularly big, cutting a hole in a pad that is put directly over the affected area might entirely relieve the pressure on the nodule and prevent the need for further treatment.

Sign6: Ouch!

When you run your palm down the area where the saddle is, you will see that your horse’s back is quite sore. When you lay the saddle on his back, he may demonstrate his displeasure by pinning his ears, snapping his teeth, and swishing his tail in protest. What it means:While this, too, may be connected to saddle fit, it’s also conceivable that your horse is suffering from a main back ailment that is giving him discomfort. Symptoms of this sort of discomfort can be caused by conditions such as kissing spines, where the bony processes extending up from each vertebrae come into touch with one another.

  1. Radiographs to check for kissing spines, as well as drugs to assist ease muscular spasms and discomfort, may be recommended by your doctor.
  2. In addition, massage therapy or bodywork may be included in your treatment plan at some point.
  3. Make a Sketch of It 16 oz.
  4. Of course, you should examine the fit of your saddle and make sure it’s adequately cushioned to prevent putting pressure on your horse’s hurting back in certain areas.

Additionally, it is possible that your horse’s training and riding plan will need to be changed in order to keep him comfortable over time.

Sign7: Won’t Go

What you see:You saddle your horse and prepare to go on a ride. You’re all set to depart, but your horse has other ideas. He pins his ears back, shakes his head, and doesn’t budge one inch. In response to a slight increase in pressure, he may either stand straight up on his hind legs or go off bucking, depending on the day. What it signifies is as follows: Saddle discomfort is frequently accompanied with behavioral issues. Be on the lookout if your horse starts pinning his ears, refusing to continue forward, or threatening to rear at any point.

Action: Have your horse’s back examined by a veterinarian, and if necessary, have it treated (see above).

If you suspect that your horse’s behavior problems have become a habit, seek the assistance of a qualified trainer who can assist you in working through his resistance while remaining sensitive to his suffering.

Saddle Fitting Guide

In your opinion, what sort of saddle is the greatest choice? This broad advice will assist you in determining which model of saddle best meets your riding demands, as well as the fit of the saddle for both the horse and the rider. The fact that both horses and riders are available in a variety of shapes and sizes makes choosing a saddle that is a suitable fit for both difficult at times. Fortunately, there are several saddle alternatives available on the market today, and with all of the technological advancements in saddle manufacturing, most riders should be able to find a saddle that is both comfortable and effective for them and their horses.

Trail, Performance, and Barrel Racing are just a few of the categories available for Western-style horseback riding.

The construction of the saddle must be such that it can fit both the horse and the rider.

The good news is that there are numerous saddle options available on the market today, and with all of the technological advancements in saddle making, the vast majority of riders should be able to find a saddle that is both comfortable and effective without resorting to custom options or the use of specialty pads.

The saddles we have chosen are from respected saddle-makers, and we feel they represent excellent value for the money we have spent.

The SmartPak Test Ride Saddle program, which encourages riders to test ride a saddle they are contemplating purchasing before making a final decision on which saddle to buy. Return to the top of the page

Fitting the Horse and Rider

Fitting the Horse: The fundamentals of fitting a saddle on a horse are the same for both English and Western saddles, with some minor variations. Generally speaking, the tree or bars should provide adequate protection to the horse’s back and be designed to place the rider in the best balance possible for the type of riding that he or she is doing; the panels beneath the saddle should conform to, and aid in protecting, the horse’s back; the girthing system should be located in a manner that effectively holds the saddle on the horse; and the seat style should provide support for the rider without being overly restrictive.

  1. Saddle trees or bars are available in a variety of widths and may have other features.
  2. The instructions on evaluating saddle fit will cover the fundamentals of determining whether or not the tree size is appropriate for your horse.
  3. It is critical to select the proper seat and flap or fender size and form.
  4. You want to make sure you have at least 4″ of space between the front of your body and the swell of the saddle when riding in a western saddle.
  5. There will also be individual preferences in terms of the sort of leather, its durability, and the color of the leather.

Dressage Saddles

Because saddle makers, working in collaboration with top riders, have modified materials and tree shapes to accommodate the shape and movement of the modern dressage horse over the past two decades, the dressage saddle is the saddle type that has undergone the most design modifications over the past two decades. Increased shoulder mobility and ease of lateral bending are the intended benefits of this modification. There have also been improvements to the rider’s comfort and support needs. For example, the construction of the seat ranges from fairly open to very supportive with many variations in between; flap shapes and padding, thigh blocks, and other features vary widely by brand and model to accommodate rider comfort and the amount of support required.

  • It is possible that you may need to experiment with numerous different possibilities before reaching a decision.
  • Furthermore, the points of a saddle tree have been re-designed so that they interfere with the horse’s shoulders less, while yet maintaining their stability.
  • If you have a longer leg, you will often want a longer bar, or one that is situated further back, than if you have a short leg.
  • The center channel (gullet) between the panels has also been widened to fit the wider backs of many warmbloods, which are now more common.
  • It is critical that the panels sit on the muscle pads with adequate space between them and the spine.
  • A considerable deal of comfort for your horse is determined by the length and form of the panels, as well as the type of panel fill used.
  • Short backs, a severe dip behind the withers, a rise to the croup, a very round or a very flat back, and so on must all be taken into consideration when deciding the optimum panel type for the particular horse.

The quality of wool flocking, on the other hand, varies.

Getting the cyclist in the right fit: Personal choice, as well as the rider’s degree of expertise, leg length, and pelvic bone breadth, should all be taken into account while selecting a saddle.

To provide support for the rider’s leg, there is an infinite variety of thigh blocks and padded flaps available.

Riders differ in their preferences for a high amount of support vs greater mobility to move their leg or their seat.

While applying the aids, the breadth of the saddle flap should be sufficient to protect the rider’s thigh and upper calf from injury.

When your foot is in the stirrup, the bottom of the flap should not be any lower than mid-calf on most occasions.

According to the brand and model, the majority of standard length flaps are 16-18″ in height (vertical distance from bottom of saddle bar to bottom of flap), with few exceptions.

However, depending on the manufacturer, flap lengths ranging from 13″ to 19″ may be available on a special request basis. Flap lengths on all of the saddles now offered at SmartPak are standard for that manufacturer and range from 16-18 inches depending on the brand and model.

Jumping Saddles

As with riding saddles, jumping saddles have also been re-designed in recent years to provide more comfort and balance for riders while also improving comfort for horses. The horse’s back is better protected thanks to wider, thicker panels and an enhanced gullet design. As an added benefit, moving the stirrup bar forward helps the rider to maintain good balance over fences without having to shift the saddle too far forward over the horse’s shoulder. Different brands have different angles for their flaps, different positions for their flap padding, and different widths and depths for their seats.

If the saddle is meant for high-performance jumping or eventing, the amount of support required may differ depending on the level of competition.

Seat size, flap length and position must all be determined by the rider’s physique and leg length before the saddle can be properly fitted and adjusted.

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All Purpose Saddles

The all-purpose saddle is exactly what it sounds like: a saddle that has been designed to allow the rider to stretch the stirrup and ride with a longer leg for lower-level dressage while yet having enough of a forward flap to allow for enough bend in the leg to be used for jumping. It is a good saddle for trail riding and lower-level eventing, but it is not particularly specialized in terms of the location of the flap or stirrup bar, or the form of the seat, to be particularly beneficial for a rider who specializes in either dressage or jumping, for example.

Children’s Saddles

For children’s bodies and leg length, some manufacturers provide saddle models that are especially suited for their bodies and leg length. These saddle models offer a sufficient (or superior) level of craftsmanship at a cheap price. However, other versions may be as tiny as 13″, with a seat size of 15″ or 16″ and a flap length proportionate to the kind of saddle. The majority of children’s saddles are available with the broader tree required to handle the majority of pony breeds. For the majority of youngsters, leathers of 42″ or 48″ in length, and stirrups of 4″ or 4 14″ in width are appropriate.

Western Saddles

Similarly to English riding saddles, there are various distinct designs of western saddles to choose from. The comfort of a trail riding saddle is important, although the speed of a barrel racing saddle is important as well. For the rider, the saddle should provide roughly 4″ of space between the swell of the saddle and the front of your body, and your seat should fit to the base of the cantle without pressing on the rear of the saddle. Long legs on a rider may necessitate a larger seat size in order to prevent your legs from stretching over the front of the fenders or pressing against the rear of the swell of the saddle as you are riding.

When it comes to the horse, it is preferable if there is even contact between the bars of the tree and the horse’s back. The distance between the gullet of the saddle and the top of the withers should be between two and three fingers. Return to the top of the page

Does Your Western Saddle Fit? Kevin Oliver on What You Need to Know

Kevin Oliver, an AQHA Professional Horseman and sponsored rider for Farnam Companies, Inc., provided us with some useful pointers on how to ensure that your Western saddle fits properly. Oliver has been a lifetime horseman and fifth-generation Texan, and his cowboy origins have provided a solid basis for his work as a successful trainer, top competitor in Versatility Ranch Horse (VRH), and also as an AQHA specialist judge in the VRH discipline. During the Equine Affaire in West Springfield, Massachusetts, Oliver was a featured presenter and discussed the importance of correct Western saddle fitting.

  1. When he was a cowboy, he would spend 14 to 16 hours a day on horseback, and he told the audience about his equestrian experiences.
  2. However, regardless of whether you ride for the most of the day or for less than an hour, it is critical that your saddle be properly fitted to your horse.
  3. Unwanted behavior is a typical source of worry when a saddle is not properly fitted.
  4. When you are riding, he may behave in a different manner, such as pinning his ears or swishing his tail.
  5. Another sign that your saddle doesn’t fit properly is if you’re continually attempting to maintain balance when you’re riding your bike.
  6. It’s possible that you’ve seen a horse with little patches of white hair on his back, particularly in the saddle and withers.

It is believed that the saddle tree exerted such a great amount of pressure on the region that it injured or destroyed the hair follicles, as shown by the presence of white spots, which some people refer to as “hot spots.” “This explains why the hair becomes white in certain regions,” says the doctor.

  • Even if the horse’s hair has not turned white, a saddle that is not properly fitted might cause rub or wear marks on the horse’s back, particularly in the area in front of the hips and/or at the withers.
  • Make certain that the fit is correct.
  • “Put the saddle on your horse’s back without a pad to make sure it fits properly,” Oliver suggests.
  • When a saddle is properly fitted, the bars of the saddle make contact with the horse’s back all along the length of it, spreading the pressure over the weight-bearing surface.
  • Put another way, the bottom of the saddle should be shaped in such a way that it closely matches the contour of your horse’s back.
  • “The bars of the tree should be entirely flat on the back, with no rocking,” says Oliver.
  • He prefers that the saddle skirt be able to fit snugly on the horse’s back.

There should be no gap between the saddle’s skirt and the horse’s back, as this indicates that the saddle will rock forward as the horse moves backward.

A saddle that is too long will put pressure on the withers and loin area of the horse.

See if you can “rock” the saddle forward and backward at this point.

If the saddle passes all of these tests, you can proceed to mount your horse and cinch up the saddle.

In addition to relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve, this allows for better air circulation beneath the saddle.

The saddle should never come into contact with the horse’s spine or withers at any point during the riding session.

It should leave plenty of space between the withers and should never even come close to resting on the withers themselves (with a rider in the saddle).

Check to see that the fender is free to move and that you are able to swing your legs forward without difficulty.

Consider that even saddle trees of the same description can have vastly different characteristics when purchasing a saddle.

A saddle should be tailored to the specific horse you are riding, rather than to a general type or breed of horse.

Ensure that if you choose this option, there is a return policy in place.

“In addition, if they aren’t willing to allow you to try the saddle on your horse before you buy it, don’t buy that saddle,” he advises against purchasing it.

It is not going to work and may even cause more problems.

It can cause a saddle to wobble, which can result in saddle sores “he explains.

This means that the same saddle may not fit the same horse for the rest of his or her life; therefore, keep this in mind and check for proper fit on a regular basis.

6 Signs That Your Saddle Doesn’t Fit Your Horse

It is critical that your saddle is correctly fitted to your horse, regardless of the discipline in which you compete. When you’re riding your equine companion, a badly fitted saddle might create discomfort and even behavioral problems in the horse. Six symptoms to look out for that might suggest that your saddle isn’t a good fit for your horse are listed below.

1. Pressure On Your Horse’s Withers

In no case should your horse’s saddle be worn so low that it exerts pressure on his withers, but a badly fitted saddle – such as one that is too broad – will sit practically directly on top of his withers. Wither pressure is unpleasant for your equine companion, and if you ride in a saddle that is improperly fitted on a regular basis, you may inflict irreversible nerve damage to their withers.

2. Sore Back

A saddle that does not fit properly will almost always cause your horse to have a painful back. Run your hand firmly along the back of your horse’s neck, right beneath and on each side of his spine, and stop. Keep an eye out for indicators that your horse is unhappy, such as him flinching or sinking his back to avoid the pressure from the saddle.

3. Unevenness From Front to Back

A well fitted saddle should be able to rest evenly on the animal’s back. Saddles should be mounted so that their fronts are at the same level as their backs. Look at your horse’s back directly from the side when the saddle is on his back. If the saddle appears to be taller in the front or rear, it is likely that it does not suit them well.

4. Extra Movement

A saddle that does not properly fit your equine companion will frequently move about more than a saddle that does fit properly. To put this to the test, put your horse on the lunge line with his saddle on and his girth fastened as you would normally. Lunge them at the trot and canter while keeping an eye on the saddle. If your saddle is properly fitted, it will move with your horse’s back, almost as though it were an extension of your horse. A saddle that is not properly fitted may jiggle about a bit.

5. Uneven Sweat Marks

The sweat markings left on your horse’s back after a ride can be used to determine whether or not a saddle is a good fit for your horse. Take your saddle pad off and examine the sweat traces on it. They should be evenly distributed beneath the whole region where the saddle rests against your horse’s back. The absence of perspiration in some places of the body may suggest that the saddle is exerting excessive pressure on them in certain locations.

6. Poor Horse Behavior

Many horses may communicate with you if they are experiencing discomfort due to a poorly fitting saddle. If your equine companion shows strange behavior while in the saddle, you should have a saddle fitter examine the horse to see if the saddle is causing discomfort.

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