what do i need to look for when saddle fitting?

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what do i need to look for when saddle fitting?

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    11-25-2008, 03:32 PM
what do i need to look for when saddle fitting?

Okay, I know what seat size I need, 17.5, in English. When I fit and english saddle to my QH, I know that the pommel should be about 3 fingers above the withers, no wieght should be on the spine, What else?
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    11-25-2008, 06:20 PM
Okay. If I were you getting your first saddle, I would get it fitted by a professional, and they can talk you through the process. But if you can't do that then here a few guidelines:

- To fit the saddle, make sure it is clearing his shoulder blades either side, so it may be a bit further back than you are used to. A lot of riding schools/trainer teach beginners to put the saddle right on the wither, which is better than too far back, but not correct for every horse.

- Always check the fit of the saddle without a saddle pad.

- You're correct, about three fingers clearance over the wither is good. It also shouldn't sit to high off the wither, as this will put too much pressure either side of the spine, so working off the three fingers Idea is good.

- If you look down the gullet (the space in the middle that sits over the spine) you should be able to see daylight through the other end. Liek you said, no part of the saddle should be touching the spine.

- Have a look at the saddle from the side. It should be balanced, the pommel and cantle sitting at the same height, neither one higher than the other, and the base of the seat should be the lowest point.

- walk your horse around with the saddle on, girth undone and no saddle pad. The saddle should not slide forward or back, and when turning should still sit reasonably square. It should not lift up at the back or the front.

- If all of the above are correct, girth him up and take him for a short ride with no saddle pad, just enough to make him sweat under the saddle. Sitting in the saddle you should feel centered, not tipping forward or back, and with a line from your head through your shoulder and hip to your heel. When you take the saddle off, have a look at the sweat patches. There should be no dry patches, or patches where the hair is disturbed. If the sweat is even, then cogratulations, your saddle is as well fitted as you can get it yourself.

Whenever I get a saddle, I roughly fit it myself, and then asap I get a saddle fitter out just to check it over. It may be that it needs more/less flocking, sometimes the gullet isn't the only thing that needs to be changed for a good fit, however you shouldn't have that problem with a new saddle.

Also, Wintec sell a kind of hinge that is used to measure what size gullet your horse will need. I think they cost about $30 here, and it saves you the trouble of buying a gullet and it not fitting.

Good luck!
    11-25-2008, 06:28 PM
Thanks wild spot. Again, lol. Your the best!
    11-25-2008, 06:52 PM
Aw shucks, lol.

No problems.
    11-27-2008, 06:30 AM
There should be three fingers between the saddle and the shoulder (backwards, not just upwards). Make sure the horses neck/withers stay clear even if the horses head is raised.

Make sure the saddle lies steady - if it tips forward/backward or ''roll'' forward and backwards you need a straighter tree.

Feel with a hand under the panels when it lies on the horse; there should be an even preassure all the way under it; if not the saddle causes a bridge over the back and your weight is concentrated on two points on the withers and two points on the back.

Make sure the channel over the spine is wide enough to let the spine move sideways with the horse without getting under the panels. 2 inches or more wide all the way through.

On the first ride if everything seems to fit, you can use a white, thin sheet between the horse and the saddle, and after the ride you can see if it's evenly dirty. If it's not, the saddle doesn't even out the preassure. (It usually gets a little dirtier where the saddle ''end'' on the horse tho)

Wild_spots advices are very good too.

I definetly think you should hae a professional look at it and show you what to look for, there's so many things that has to be right.
    11-27-2008, 09:31 AM
Green Broke
(my saved saddle fitting instructions)

Here are some steps to check for saddle fit:
  • Put the saddle on with no pad or girth.
  • Place it too high over the horse's withers and push it down and back (your hand on the pommel). Repeat this step 2 or 3 times to make sure you're getting the same spot.
    ** This should put the saddle tree 2-3" behind the horse's shoulder blade. The tree is located just in front of the front concho or below the front d-ring on an English saddle.
  • With your hand under the saddle, palm down, finger tips 1" away from the horse's spine, run your hand from the very front edge to the very back edge of the saddle. You should feel even pressure all the way back: no tight spots or air pockets. If you're fitting an English saddle, you may want to girth it lightly, or have a helper lightly press down in the center of the seat.
  • Look under the pommel. You will generally have 2-4 fingers of room between the withers and the underside of the pommel. This may not be the case with horses that have very high or very low withers.
  • Step back and look. The saddle should set even on the horse, not popped up in back (even when girthed, unless it's a new(er) western saddle with stiff skirts). The seat should also be level, with the deepest point in an appropriate spot. If the front or back is too high or too low, then the saddle does not fit.
  • Also, the back edge of the skirts should be no more than to the mid-line of the horse's flank. If the back edge is too far over the flank, the saddle is too long and may cause discomfort or a shortened stride. For an English saddle or flocked Aussie, the back of the panels should be 6" more in front of the mid-line of the flank.
A good site on English saddle fitting:
Saddle fitting

A decent site on Western saddle fitting:
Saddle Fit: A Guide to a Happy Horse and Rider
    11-27-2008, 12:03 PM
Thanks every boday. When I buy my sadddle, I will have my trainer to look at it properly.
    11-27-2008, 12:46 PM
Everyone gave great advice. I just have one little tidbit to add. It's an interesting way of seeing if your saddle fits properly. Take a pencil or piece of chalk or something and lay it in the middle of the saddle while it is on the horse's back. If it rolls than the saddle does not fit. The pencil should balance perfectly without moving.

Good luck with your new saddle and let us know how it goes!
    11-27-2008, 06:56 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by Jacksonlover    
thanks every boday. When I buy my sadddle, I will have my trainer to look at it properly.
One piece of advice there, most trainers don't know a about properly fitting a saddle, unless they made a point to learn in classes or apprenticed with a saddle fitter. Have your trainer look, but check yourself using the instructions I posted. If you have access to one, using a professional saddle fitter is best. Most charge $35-75 to come out and fit your saddle(s).

I went to massage therapy school and they spend a lot of time on saddle fit and how improper fit and/or placement can effect the horse. I learned that all of my past trainers (and the ones I have meant since) didn't know the first thing about proper saddle fit and placement ;).
    11-27-2008, 09:24 PM
Okay, thanks for the advice, luvs. but my trainer has been to a course like that so, I trust him. It was like a seminar/demonstration, tyPe thing

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