There was a time when it was a case of one saddle fits all, but not anymore. We now have the knowledge of how important a correctly fitting saddle is to both us as riders and the comfort of your horse. Your saddle is the connection between you and your horse, thus the importance of a well-fitted saddle cannot be overlooked neither can the long-term effects an ill-fitting saddle can have on your horse.
Effects of an incorrectly fitted saddle
- Can cause back pain and discomfort (just like if we wear a pair of ill-fitting shoes)
- Your horse can try to avoid uncomfortable pressure caused by the saddle not correctly fitting this in turn can put strain on other muscles and areas of the back with long-term effects
- For a young horse learning in its early stages of education the pain of a poor fitted saddle could possibly cause behavioral problems as the horse tries to avoid the discomfort the saddle is causing
- Can cause poor muscle development or muscle wastage
- Restriction of movement and alter paces
How to spot if saddle is not fitting properly
- Swelling along the back, sore to touch
- Sores and rubs
- Uneven sweat patches, dry areas under saddle
- Rubbed/white hairs where saddle sits
- Saddle tipping to one side
- Horse resistance to aids
- Muscle wastage
- Cold backed
Signs of a correctly fitting saddle
- Panels sit evenly along the back
- Correct clearance over whither and spine
- Nice free shoulder movement
It’s also important to remember that if you are riding a young horse as it grows you will need to consistently have your saddle re-fitted to suit its growing frame until it has fully developed. The same applies for horses that may be underweight when first starting in work. As they put weight on the way the saddle fits will also change.
We recommend for professional advice on your saddle fitting you can contact an accredited saddle fitter through the ASFA (Australian Saddle Fitters Association). Often fitting can be managed through saddle pads/inserts or in some cases a new saddle may be the best solution, but they will be able to advise you on what you and your horse need.
Written by Selena P.