Saddle Fitting Guide
To help you fit your saddle correctly, you need to assess the saddle in 3 stages, use this step by step method and checklist to guide you through.
If you have not yet assessed the width you require, we recommend using a Gullet Gauge or Measuring Device to give you an approximate guide, position this 2” behind the back of the shoulder blade to gain the most accurate reading. Please bear in mind all saddle brands work to their own measurements so widths can vary.
Stage 1 – Assessing the Saddle Placed on the Horses Back. Firstly stand your horse square on a flat surface, place the saddle on and go through the Checklist 1- 8, once happy you can then proceed.
Stage 2 – Girthing the Saddle Up, we recommend at this stage you use a thin saddlecloth or numnah, run through your checklist again then if you are satisfied proceed.
Stage 3 – Ridden Test, when you are ready to ride, please ensure that your girth is secure and wherever possible use a mounting block as it is kinder to your horses back. Allow your horse to settle for a few minutes and adjust to the different feel, then test ride the saddle in walk, troy and canter and over a jump if necessary. With the help of a friend run through the Checklist 2 – 8 again but also assess how you feel, how your position is affected and how your horse feels.
If you have any doubts arrange a saddle fitting appointment.
BalanceA flatter seat/tree or some jump saddles will see the pommel and cantle level in a straight line across but for A saddle with a deeper seat/tree most GP’s/Dressage the cantle will sit 1 – 2 cms higher.
A saddle that is to low at the front and high at the back will pitch the rider forward encouraging a more hunched position and a tendency for the lower leg to go too far back and potentially increasing tightness behind the horse’s shoulder. Pressing on the pommel and cantle in a ‘see saw’ motion will highlight potential movement.
A saddle that is too high at the front and to low at the back will pitch the rider backwards and behind the horses movement encouraging a chair position encouraging the rider to collapse through the middle in order to keep with the movement , sitting on their bottom not seat bones with their lower leg to far forward. Potentially this will exert more pressure around the horse’s loin area.
If too narrow the saddle will feel tight lower down and will lift up at the front, causing the saddle to bridge and lose contact in the middle, if too wide the saddle will drop down and be tighter at the top loosing contact lower down and the back will start to lift.
A saddle that looses contact in the middle of its panel could be too narrow causing the saddle to bridge and creating 4 point pressure.
A saddle lifting off significantly at the back could be too wide and increase tightness around the horse’s shoulder and may lift and catch the rider behind.
Some panel designs however are more curved to avoid pressure in the loin area particularly useful for short backed horses or big movers, the panel should still remain in 90% contact.
For some very short backed horses a panel design with more curved maybe required, these sweep over and away from the last rib to reduce pressure.
Once Girthed you may want to ask your friend to walk the horse away and recheck its symmetry.
A fitter horse will have a girth line further back than that of an unfit horse. Those with a tummy that drops down and a sprung rib cage tend to have a more forward girth line which means the girth sits directly behind the horses elbow, often in this case a point strap girth fixing is required to help line the girth up with the girth groove.
We recommend trying a saddle firstly off the point strap as this can engage extra pressure behind the shoulder, however if the saddle starts to creep forward once ridden engaging the point strap will be the next step.
This guide is for information and guidance purposes only and in no way guarantees the correct fitting of your saddle. If in any doubts Contact your Master Saddler Qualified Saddle Fitter for further assistance.