Having a saddle that fits your horse is important so that your horse doesn’t have its movement restricted. When your saddle fits properly, your horse’s shoulders will be able to swing freely as it moves, and its back will stay supple and round. It is important to understand that if your horse’s muscle tone and weight changes through changes in feed, exercise, training, or illness, the way your saddle fits will change as well. The important thing is to start with a saddle that fits your horse well, and then use padding to make sure that your horse has even pressure in the right places without any restriction to its movement. Continue reading to learn how to tell if your horse’s saddle fits properly.
Check the Pommel for Wither Clearance
You should start by making sure that your saddle is placed correctly on the horse’s back. You should place it slightly forward on the horse’s withers and then let it slide back until it stops at its natural resting place based on your horse’s conformation. You can repeat this a few times to make sure that it falls in the same spot most of the time. It should be behind the horse’s shoulder blades to allow freedom of movement through the shoulders.
You should see that the pommel (front) of the saddle clears the horse’s withers. It should sit above them and there should be space between the top of the pommel and the horse’s withers. The back of the saddle is called the cantle, and you should see a straight line from the pommel to the cantle as well. The saddle should look even and natural on your horse’s back.
Check the Length of the Saddle
When you look at your horse, the area where the rider should sit, the weight bearing area, is above the ribs. It is known as the thoracic region, and it runs from the shoulder to the middle of the horse’s back. The area behind the thoracic region has no support structure, and it should not bear weight. It runs from the middle of the back to the point of the horse’s croup.
When you place the saddle on our horse’s back, make sure that the seat of the saddle is centered in the thoracic region of your horse’s back. This area is where the rider should sit, and the horse can handle the weight of a rider here. If the saddle extends behind this area, it is too big, and if it sits up on the horse’s shoulders, it is too small. It is important to make sure that you are centered over the thoracic region of the horse’s back.
Check the Panel Pressure and Points of Contact
Once you have a saddle sitting properly on your horse’s back, you should check the points of pressure for the saddle. The panels are designed to distribute your weight evenly on your horse’s back when you ride. They might be stuffed with wool, foam, or some synthetic material. You should place your hand under the front of the panels and press down on the saddle. The pressure should feel even under the saddle. Check all of the points of contact for the saddle and make sure that you feel evenly distributed pressure.
When you have a saddle that doesn’t fit your horse properly, it can cause back problems and other issues for the horse. You may find that your horse doesn’t want to move forward if its movement is restricted, or you may feel the horse tensing up through its back. Try the methods above to make sure that your saddle fits well, and if you aren’t sure, consult a professional to get another opinion. There are professional saddle fitters who specialize in this kind of work.