Getting a saddle fitted professionally?

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Getting a saddle fitted professionally?

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    10-17-2011, 11:45 PM
Green Broke
Getting a saddle fitted professionally?

Stupid question time! Prepare yourselves.

I've been looking into buying a new saddle. The saddle I have now was bought off Ebay for pennies. It's a miracle it fit my horse, because I had no idea what I was doing.

This time, I'd like to do it "right" and get a well made saddle that fits my horse and I perfectly. However... I don't know how to do that.

I've heard of professional saddle fitters. Worth it? What kind of process does one typically go through to buying a saddle and getting it fitted? Do you get your horse looked at and then buy the saddle, or do you buy the saddle and have your fitter look at it? What do fitters do, exactly?

Any tips about saddle purchasing are loved.
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    10-17-2011, 11:54 PM
I just bought my first saddle, for a horse that is hard to fit. I had a lot of discussions with the person from the tack store and from my trainer on this subject. What they said was this:
1. I should get a saddle that has wool flocking in the panels. Some saddles have foam instead, and the saddle fitter can't do much with that other than take it out and replace it with wool.
2. What the saddle fitter does is to pad the panels out, with wool, to make the saddle shape right for the horse.
3. Ideally the saddle fitter will be able to make the saddle go with the horse without the need for any pads, other than the one you use to keep the saddle clean. But some horses are really hard to fit and will always need pads. And depending on the horse and where you horse is 17 and I live in New England and we don't have an indoor ring, so he will not be getting ridden once the snows come...he will probably lose mass on his topline, and so a saddle that fits him perfectly will not fit him right in March. They said that you can get the saddle fitter to come out 2x in a year for that.
4. They also said that I should not get the saddle fitter out at all until I have ridden in my new saddle for a few months, because the wool that is in the panels needs to pack down before the saddle fitter will be able to assess what to do. In the meantime, I am using a closed-cell foam back riser (I think that is what it is called) to make sure that Huey is not getting any pressure points. We checked the fit of maybe 8 saddles, only 3 of them fit him well enough for me to bother trying them out, and one of those was a total bust for me.
    10-17-2011, 11:54 PM
Good saddle fitter absolutely worth the money. What I did was I scheduled appointment and then borrowed 6-8 saddles from 2-3 places to try on my horses. They are hard to fit, unfortunately, so it wasn't easy, but we came up with one saddle.
    10-18-2011, 12:15 AM
Green Broke
I wonder where I could temporarily acquire a few saddles, so I can find one close to fitting before modifying it to perfection... I don't have the option of borrowing, being the only person in my entire association who rides in an English saddle. (Everyone else uses endurance saddles, which I don't like the feel of.) Is there some way to get multiple saddles on trial?

My mare's back seems pretty "normal", so I wouldn't imagine it would be too difficult to find something. Hopefully I won't be proved wrong and go on a wild goose chase!
    10-18-2011, 12:18 AM
I know that Dover and SmartPak will send out saddles to try. I had to provide a wither tracing and a bunch of measurements before we could decide which ones made sense to try out.
    10-18-2011, 12:23 AM
Green Broke
What's a wither tracing? I apologize... I ask a lot of questions.

Would it be terribly rude if I tried out their saddles and ended up not buying if I found the same model lightly used? Are you required to buy if you try their section? Used tack is the poor horseman's friend; I wouldn't want to be caged in with a $2000 saddle if I found the same for $1000 elsewhere.
    10-18-2011, 12:31 AM
I've gone 2 routes.

I contacted a Saddle Maker/Fitter and he came out to my barn with a van/truck full of saddles, where he placed on his back after assessing him first. He of course, grabbed one's that he narrowed down to after assessing his back.

After he found one that fit my boy well, he had me ride in it to ensure that it fit me well, and he watched me ride in it, seeing how my body was placed and how my horse reacted to it.

He cost $100, it was well worth it. I learnt a lot from him and that's when my saddle fit passion started.

The second route I took, I went to a local tack store that a saddle maker/fitter owns and runs. She knows my horse well and when I told her I need a new saddle for the both of us, she pulled out saddles and placed them on her wooden horse for me to sit in.

The one's that worked well for me, she placed to the side, and the one's that put me in a not so productive position, she put back. Then that weekend, she brought out all the saddles that were put to the "Good" side, and placed them on my boys back and assessed them. The one's that didn't work, were put back into her vehicle, and the one's that were narrowed down to a great fit, she left in the barn.

She then had me ride in them to see how I worked in the saddle, and to see my horses reaction to them. The one's she wasn't impressed with, we took off and those were put into the vehicle - out of the whole lot she brought out, it was narrowed down to 2.

I loved them both. I loved how they put me in a fabulous position, I loved how my horse moved in them, I loved how well they fit him. What made my decision, was one went on sale, so I bought that. She also threw in leathers, irons and a girth.

I ended up buying a Marcel Toulouse Legano - and I couldn't be happier.

If you want help, I'd contact her. She's a vast of knowledge and can help you out.
    10-18-2011, 12:43 AM
Green Broke
That sounds really nice! Maybe my somewhat local tack store (three hours away) would allow me a similar trial. Being that I live pretty far away, I would probably have to make a lot of round trips to try saddles on my horse. I'll have to call and see what they offer.

Also, $100 would be totally worth it for someone to come to me... It would probably be a bit more than that, though, since I live a very long way from the nearest horse Mecca. But it would be lovely to have someone see my horse and evaluate her with a professional's eye.

I like both these options. I'll have to see which I could get to work out best. :)
    10-18-2011, 09:07 AM
Originally Posted by Brighteyes    
My mare's back seems pretty "normal", so I wouldn't imagine it would be too difficult to find something. Hopefully I won't be proved wrong and go on a wild goose chase!
I'd suggest to do wither tracing and contact a place like Trumbull Mountains to see their recommendations (they also sell consignment saddles, have good trial, and awesome customer service). Here it is: Wither Tracings

It's a pity you are not in MD or I'd recommend you my fitter - she's very famous around here (heck, even Trumbull Mnt in Vermont knows about her!). :)
    10-18-2011, 03:14 PM
Green Broke
Annnnnd if you have issues fitting saddles go's not for everyone or every horse but you are doing endurance racing and these things are miracles on long trail rides.

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