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JustDressageIt 10-02-2012 12:18 AM

The Importance of Saddle Fit
I preach about this all the time, but I had it re-iterated tonight. I'm not a saddle fitter, let me put that out there right off the bat. I've owned Ronan since the end of May, and he's become completely differently muscled since then.
When I bought him, I had two different trainers look at the saddle I had and both said that it looked like it fit really well - and I would agree with them, I felt under the panels and all seemed good. In the 4 months I've owned him, he's started to muscle up differently; a month ago I stopped using a half pad because it seemed a bit on the tight side, and just this past weekend I noticed a rub mark on his shoulder. Recently, he's been less willing to go forwards, and sucks back in his stride. Getting him to lengthen into the trot was a frigging battle.
I had my coach look at it yesterday (long story short, she hasn't seen Ronan in a couple of months) and she was shocked at how poorly it fit, and advised me to stop riding in it right away. Well, I didn't want to lose any riding time, so I called one of our local tack stores who has a master saddle fitter - and he had time to come out tonight. He sat the saddle on his back and was, well for a lack of a better term, appalled. He agreed with my coach on every point she had made yesterday in regards to the fit.
He showed me a million different angles and lines and where muscle needs to be developed and how to achieve this and that... really it all pertains to Ronan so not important information for you guys to read, but basically - the saddle I had (which I adored) didn't fit any longer. Ronan's muscles have been sored by my old saddle. (The saddle itself is LOVELY - it just doesn't fit Ronan.)
He set me up with a saddle (knew right off the bat which one would work, no muss or fuss) and MAN ALIVE. Ronan was a different horse under me. I could feel his shoulder move more freely, his back felt looser, and his hocks started to swing under him properly.
After a proper warm-up, I asked him to move out into his trot ... holy crap. I've never ever felt him move so freely. He lengthened out, and reached into the bit voluntarily. Usually, I'm fighting every stride to get him to move out - tonight he just lifted into this gorgeous, big trot... the canter was lovely as well.
The saddle fits ME properly as well - I can't be sure (coach wasn't there during this trial) but I'm pretty sure that I'm not collapsing as badly through my left shoulder, and I felt straighter.
Really, it's a night and day difference. I'm thrilled with the result - I knew that the saddle didn't fit, but I didn't realize what it was doing to the both of us as a result.

Saddle fit is imperative to your and your horse's ride - don't ignore it!!

SorrelHorse 10-02-2012 01:15 AM

My three year ol barrel prospect had a similar situation.

In my Mom's barrel saddle he didn't have enough whither clearance so whenever I asked him to lift his shoulder into the barrel he would fight me because he would hit that saddle. Also he would fight me to go into a frame.

My trainer had me put my personal barrel saddle on him which sits higher off his whithers, and fits his shoulder angle, and suddenly he lifts into his turn and sets on his butt and drives off his hock like nobody's business. Straight **** near left me with my butt in the dirt! Also softening and being wonderful.

I agree with this point so much. The saddle effects a horse so much.

tinyliny 10-02-2012 01:21 AM

I am beginning to question whether or not my old standby dressage saddle is even acceptable in fit on Zulu. I knew it wasnt' a perfect fit, but it seemed ok. But lately, he's been less willing to move out and has been baulking on the trail. I tried one other saddle on him that fit even worse and had the oddest balance point. So, I am now hemming and hawing to myself wondering if I should hire the local fitter.

The thing is, the ALWAYS have all kinds of things to say about what a bad fit it is. I have never heard of one coming in, taking a look and saying , "Yep, your saddle fits fine. you don't have to buy any of these that I have with me."

So, I am pretty sure she'd say, "get a new one". And I already have two that I need to sell.

SorrelHorse 10-02-2012 03:07 AM

Maybe you could trade Tiny? That's what I did with my law english saddle. I had dabbled in the eventing a little and it fit the big 17.2 warmblood schoolmaster just fine but my little barrel pony had just an awful fit for it so I traded it out for something that did fit her when I briefly showed her in dressage...

unclearthur 10-02-2012 08:00 AM


Originally Posted by tinyliny (Post 1703816)
I have never heard of one coming in, taking a look and saying , "Yep, your saddle fits fine. you don't have to buy any of these that I have with me."

That's just sad. Gives every decent fitter a bad name :-(

Unfortunately seems to be common, though.

gypsygirl 10-02-2012 08:25 AM

my saddle fitter will try to fit it with a pad if she can, shes awesome !

similar story with gypsy, she was being very naughty undersaddle, bucking and kicking out over her head...very fun. had the saddle fitter out, she traces a medium, but will only go in a narrow tree saddle. who knew ? i learned so much about saddle fitting that day !!

im glad you figured it out JDI =]

nikelodeon79 10-02-2012 09:26 AM

I've been trying to find a saddle fitter in my area with no luck. :( I did find a County Saddle fitter that likely would travel, but unfortunately a new saddle is just not in my budget.

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