Did you know that more than half of the riding horses out there are ridden with an ill-fitting saddle?
There is a lot to consider when trying to find a saddle that fits correctly. Among other things, you must consider what job it is intended for, how it contours to the horse’s back, whether or not there is enough spinal clearance, etc.
Also ask yourself, does it fit the rider who will be using it? Does it sit level and balanced with and without a saddle pad? Is there enough ‘rock’ along the panels or too much?
It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but that’s where I come in! As your saddle fitter, I will go through all of the steps to ensure a correct fit for you and your horse.
I will mention two of what are some of most common issues found in saddles.
First, the use of saddle pads. Too much padding, as well as the use of ‘fixers’ such as keyhole pads and risers, usually cause bridging and/or put the balance of the saddle too far back and situates the rider leaning back and putting more pressure over the kidneys. Bridging occurs when there are pressure points at the front and back of the saddle but no or little contact through the middle.
Remember, if your saddle fits well without any pads, the addition of anything other than a normal, thin pad will change the fit of the saddle! Compare it to a pair of your own shoes. Would they still fit as well with a huge, thick pair of winter wooley socks? Probably not! The same goes for your horse and what he feels when unnecessary bulk is added underneath the saddle.
Secondly, we must remember to assess the actual soundness and structure of the saddle itself. Has it been made/manufactured with attention to detail? It is more common then you may think, saddles being made with crooked trees! An easy way to assess is to sit it on flat ground, with the pommel/horn down, and stare striaght down over the panels. Does the saddle itself look even? Are the panels stuffed evenly, or is it lumpy or obviously more worn on one side?
You can also test for a broken tree by sitting the saddle against your leg and pushing the cantle towards the pommel, as if you were trying to fold it in half. You shouldn’t feel any give in pressure – if there is, the tree may be broken and should be taken to a saddle maker for further assessment and to see if fixing it is an option.
Below is an easy to read article for more handy tips!