How does having a saddle fitter out work? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-19-2011, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Wisconsin, USA
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How does having a saddle fitter out work?

Hello! I'm thinking about having a professional saddle fitter out. I think my saddle fits alright (I watched the 9 steps someone elss posted on here, it was really informative) but I want a professional opinion. I don't personally know anyone who has done this, so I have some questions that I am hoping you can help out with.

1.) How do I even find one? I looked online and there isn't any in my area. Do they generally travel or is it dependent on the person doing it? Are they generally independent or assiciated with a certain saddle company?

2.) Do they bring saddles of different brands with them?

3.) Here is the most important for me - I need to take time and save up for whatever saddle I buy. Should I wait until I have the money to have the fitter out or do they give you information and not expect you to buy a saddle on the spot? I would like to see what they tell me and research it to see how much I will need to save up for, but I don't want to waste their time if they expect me to purchase.

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post #2 of 11 Old 05-20-2011, 09:00 AM
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OK... Here is my experience with the fitter. First of all, good saddle fitter really worth all money you pay. I found mine by word of mouth (on local forum), however since there are lots of people (with money) in MD/VA we have lots of saddle fitters around you can choose from. May be more tough on you because of where you live. I'd suggest you to stop by in couple big barns and ask who they are using for saddle fitting. Every big english barn around here invite the fitter from time to time, I'd think it should be similar where you live. BTW my trainer (with big barn) is using same lady I used (she's VERY popular around here so I got lots of recommendations for her).

What I did was I got 5 or 6 saddles from local stores (some on consignments, some new), and when the fitter came out she tried all of them on my horse(s). The one she picked on I then got (and returned the rest of saddles).

What was pretty amazing about using the fitter: she showed me my qh is not even on both sides (which I didn't even know). It's not lack of muscles, it's her conformation unfortunately. So she need little bit of extra padding on left. The fitter simply put cheap no-bow wrap folded twice on left under the saddle: it fixed the issue and no expensive pads with shims were needed.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass: it's about learning to dance in the rain..."

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post #3 of 11 Old 05-20-2011, 10:05 AM
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I also found my saddle fitter through word of mouth. He came out to our barn and took tracings of my horse's back in five different places. Now when I want to buy a saddle I can take my horses back with me; it's very nice.

I think it would be helpfull to save for the saddle first. Once you cantact a fitter it gets a sort of momentum going; they're going to want to help you fit the specific saddle and restuff it.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-20-2011, 08:41 PM
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Something you need to understand about saddlefitting. The horse's shape is constantly changing because of age and various levels of fitness. What might seem like a custom fit today likely won't be in two months time. Back in the days of Genghis Khan, his soldiers used saddles with three different trees. One when the ponies were grass fat in the spring. Another as the ponies were getting more fit and a third for when they were solid muscle and lean. With the modern horse not being worked to any great extent, we try to find a saddle that's a pretty decent fit. If you use the horse as your chair while you chat with someone and don't allow him to move, that is when he will become sore. Buying a saddle before the horse is not a good idea nor is having a fitter take measurements and think that six months down the road the saddle will fit.
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-21-2011, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Wisconsin, USA
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Saddlebag - do you not suggest a saddle fitter then? I would think that having it professionally fit would be better than a store bought one with no expert input. I understand that horses due change shape which is why the exchangable gullet systems are popular. Do you change out your saddle throughout the year?
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-23-2011, 10:47 AM
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livestoride - just because you have a saddle that has the changeable gullets, does not mean that the saddle will beable to change to accomodate the horses shapes.

All the gullet change system does, is change the size of the tree - nothing more, nothing less. They make the saddle wide, medium wide etc, etc - you get the gyst :)

That does NOT change the gullet channel, the shape of the panels, the way the panels rest on the horses back, the shape of the tree *flat, or arched*, the length of the saddle and etc, etc.

Horses do change shape often, take my TB as an example - he either gains muscle on his topline, or loses it - which does dramatically alter how the saddle fits.

That is why, having a professional to help you, is a good thing. Every 6 months, you should have your saddle assessed by a professional.

If you use the horse as your chair while you chat with someone and don't allow him to move, that is when he will become sore.
Yes and No. A) It isn't a good idea to sit on your horses back to sit around and watch classes that you aren't involved in, or to sit around to chat with friends for periods of time - because you should give your horses back breaks at any possible time. The only time you should be standing around doing nothing, is when you are off your horse.

BUT on that note, an ill fitted saddle will do serious damage to your horses back. Whether that saddle is an "ok" fit, or a poor fit - no matter what you are doing when that saddle is on their back, will result in serious back pain if allowed to go on for long periods of time.

Our horses show us signs of pain, from ears pinning back, tails swishing, not being able to get infront of their riders legs, girth, biting the air or you when you put the saddle on, ansy when tacking up, not moving forward, bucking, rearing - to back pain when you palpate the back, from loin, center of the back to withers.

For example, my friends horse is very honest and does anything his rider asks of him. He shows signs of ill saddle fit, not through performance, but through signs when on the ground. He is sore in his loin area when you palpate his back, slightly in his withers, and when you put the saddle on him and start to girth him up, his ears pin back and he bites at you - DING DING DING..poor saddle fit.

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post #7 of 11 Old 05-23-2011, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Wisconsin, USA
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MIE - thank you for your input. I undertand that horses change shape throughout the year, I was just wondering about saddlebags response because it seemed to me to be saying that having a saddle fitter out is useless due to this fact. I was just trying to clarify if she thought it was even worth having one out. I would love to have a saddle fitter out, but while I can afford their fee I can't afford a new sadddle right now, so I guess it will have to wait until I save up some extra money.

I had the massage therapist out and she said that both our horses were in great shape and didn't show any signs of pain or stiffness anywhere. That made me very happy. The vet also came out for the yearly checkup and agreed. I know that during motion under tack it could change, but they do not show any signs of pain currently.
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-23-2011, 04:04 PM
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The saddle fitter I used took a type of gel pad, called a port lewis pad, I believe, and had me put it on my horses under my saddle.
I then rode my horse for what would be a normal arena work session. I unsaddled and she looked at the port lewis pad and was able to tell exactly where my saddle didn't fit and helped me correct it. The port lewis pad is an impression pad and showed exactly where my saddle was or wasn't making contact with my horse.

I ride primarily western, so this will be different than an english saddle fitting.
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-23-2011, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Reiningfan - I ahve never heard of that before. Sounds like a great way to do it. Maybe I can ask around if any fitters have that and see. Thanks!
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-23-2011, 08:09 PM
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Location: Manitoba
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No problem.
I really liked being able to see how my saddle didn't fit. With an english saddle, you need to restuff panels and such, but with a western saddle, you can either use a customized pad if it'll help or get a different saddle.
I went to a saddle fitting clinic and it was only $50 each to get a fitting done. I felt it was well worth it.
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