Horse Saddle Fitting
Many health and behavioral problems can be avoided by making sure your saddle is properly fitted not only to you but also to your horse. I’ve dealt with many “problem” horses and many times the problem was traced back to ill-fitting tack. Horses that suffer from ill-fitting saddles will frequently bloat, bite, rear, buck, throw their heads and are prone to saddle sores. These horses cannot be as receptive to the rider’s cues when they are in such discomfort and stress.
- Make sure the saddle tree conforms to your horse’s withers and back. It should sit over the withers and the pommel should clear the withers by 2 inches (three fingers).
- The points of the tree should sit just behind the tops of the shoulder blades and should not interfere with the movement of the shoulders. Too narrow a tree can pinch the shoulders creating damage, pain and discomfort.
- Too wide of a tree will sit too close on the back and withers. This will cause the saddle to move around, again causing pain and soreness.
- A good fitting saddle will have none of these pressure points and will create an air channel along the horse’s spine. This allows air flow as well as keeping pressure off the spine. The saddle will not interfere with the horse’s movement.
- Over time, the padding in saddles compresses and gets too hard and uneven. Over stuffed saddles also have this same problem. This creates uneven pressure points.
Each horse is different in conformation so you should try any saddle out before you buy it. Take your horse with you if at all possible when you shop for a saddle. See if the fit is good and ride the horse. Examine the horse’s back when you are finished. If you see wet and dry patches where the saddle was, this means the saddle is not a good fit. The wet spots are where there was excessive pressure. Remember that Arabian horses have inherently shorter backs. They are born with one fewer vertebrae than other horses. There are many saddlers’ that cater to making saddles just for the Arabian horse.