Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Portland, Oregon
• Horses: 0
This article from my blog on Evaluating Saddle Fit may help you.
To determine if a saddle fits your horse, complete the following steps.First, put the saddle on the horse without using a saddle pad and tighten the girth.Stand to the side and look at the saddles front-to-back balance on the horse.The middle, or deepest part of the seat, should be level and parallel to the ground with the cantle being level with or higher than the pommel.A saddle that’s too wide will sit low in front and a saddle that’s too narrow will tip back.
Second, be sure that the pommel does not touch or rub the horse’s withers. Using a flat hand, slide your fingers underneath the pommel near the horse’s withers. Your fingers should fit comfortable between the horse and the saddle.
Next, lift the flaps and feel the panels from front to back along the horse’s back. The panels should touch the horse all the way down without any gas or bridging.
Finally, you should have someone sit in the saddle with his or her feet in the stirrups. The riders weight will lower the saddle on the horse so you should go through the first 3 steps again with the rider’s weight in the saddle. The riders sitting space should be level, with the cantle still being level with or higher than the pommel. Check the clearance over the withers. The saddle should not be touching the withers. Slight bridging will usually disappear under a rider’s weight. The saddle will initially appear to sit too high on the horse and the rider’s weight will lower it considerably. Be sure to check the saddle’s fit with a rider in the seat or after riding in it yourself.
One more thing you can do is to stand behind the horse and look through the saddle (between the underside of the saddle and the horse’s back). If the saddle fits, you should see a tunnel of light shining through. If you don’t see light, the saddle may be too snug. You will also need to make sure the saddle isn’t too long on the horse. The seat panel should not reach past the main part of the horses back onto the loins.
Remember that the saddle is new and the flocking will compress slightly over the first month or two of riding. Expect to lose about 1 finger of space under the pommel so be sure to take this into account when checking under the pommel.
Never get a saddle that is too narrow and put shims under the cantle to balance it. This will rotate the saddle and push the tree points into the body of the horse. Many riders will buy a saddle that is a little too wide. This may help your horse move more freely. If you choose this route, you may need to shim in the front of the saddle to raise the pommel and balance the saddle.