Saddle Fitting...Please HELP!
So I am having a real problem. I need to know EXACTLY how to fit a saddle. My little guy is riding in a semi qh bar Buffalo Saddlery saddle. I just won (my first raffle win EVER! lol) a nice new TexTan pleasure/trail saddle with semi qh bars as well. He is fairly narrow yet as he is only 3 going on 4 years old. SO really, what I'm wondering is how exactly should I measure for the correct fit? I just don't want to use an ill-fitting saddle and hurt him in some way. I don't really have any good pictures. I will post this one, but I don't know if it will be good enough. I will take some more tomorrow with both saddles. Also, I have noticed that his back is just a tad bit swayed (again I will have to take pics tomorrow) and it scares me. I don't know if I'm overreacting or what, but to me its not as straight as I'd like it to be at his age. Anyway, any tips would be helpful!!!!! This picture is of him in the Buffalo saddle.....
Again, I know its a bad picture to try to judge by, but it's all I have at the moment....
It would be great to see some pics without any pads and blankets under the saddle.
That would help the most.
The way I do it is like this:
Go to the hardware store and get about 4’ of 12 or 14 gauge house wire (the kind electricians use to wire a house) and cut it in half. This was written for Western saddles but the principle is the same for English or Australian.
Take 2’ and shape it over your horse’s withers. Take the other 2’ and shape it over the center of his back.
Carefully take the wires and trace them on a heavy piece of cardboard (or poster board if you have it). Cut out the cardboard shapes and take them to the saddle shop to fit against some saddles.
This part is Western: Keep in mind that QH bars in one saddle may not be the same in another brand. There are no standards for saddle trees so each manufacturer has his own idea what dimensions make the designations.
As for you, your bum should not be squished against the cantle, it should have a little room at the top and there should be about 4" of space between your tummy and the swell.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your horse is going to change over the next year or so. He is going to fill out some and build muscle so you need to take that into account. I would go with a saddle that is a LITTLE on the larger size.
OH, and congratulations on winning a nice saddle!!
It's hard to "measure" for a saddle, as all saddle manufacturers are different.
Iride gave you some good instructions on making a cardboard cutout of your horse, to try on the saddles. When shaping the withers part, make sure you put the wire 2" BEHIND his shoulder blades, where the tree of the saddle should sit. When you go to the tack shop, put that cutout right under the front conchos.
Also, measure between the tracings and cut a string just a little longer. Stable or tape the string on to your first cutout and second cutout, so the space between the cutouts is the same as the measurement between the wires when you had them on his back.
I also agree that since your horse is young, I would go with a saddle that is slightly too wide. Use an extra saddle pad to fill in for now, while you wait for him to change shape and develop more muscle. Take good care of your new saddle as he may end up growing out of it, even if you go a little wide! My mare when from Semi-QH bars at 4 to FULL QH bars at 6 years old, lol.
Thanks for the tips. I'm working on getting better pictures.....
Anyway, I will try the cut out when I get home. I realize he's going to grow, so I have to keep reminding myself that I need to be on the lookout for a bigger saddle. Do you think I should just buy one with qh bars then? Instead of using a semi qh saddle? I had already planned on getting rid of one of my saddles to get a nice roping saddle, but maybe I'll just get rid of both and invest in a bigger roping saddle anyway....Thanks for the advice!
This is the time of year of horse fairs and horse expos. Most tend to have a saddle fitter as a speaker. Is that an option for you?
Or check in with your local tack shop. They could know of a saddle fitter in the area. We have one visit our barn once a year to check fit. Nip any issues before they start.
I've never heard of any horse fairs/expos around here. I don't really know who I could get into contact with about finding a saddle fitter. I have a couple places in mind so I will start there....
Ok so here are some photos. I know you wanted to look w/o a pad but I took some with and w/o anyway. These are the two saddles I have right now. They are both semi qh bars. I'm using a 32in (he's THAT narrow) cinch. My saddle pad is 31x31. I measured him today while doing this and he measured at just about 14hh :( I REALLY hope he's going to get taller. I measured his butt height just cause and it was only at 14.1hh. Is he going to grow any more??!! :( Ok, enough talk, time for pictures:
This is the TexTan:
And this is the Buffalo:
Sorry about the giant pictures.....
Oh yea, I also noticed that he looks a tad bit swayed. Its really scaring me. I took some pictures of his back as well so you could see what I'm talking about and see if I'm over-reacting or if I should really be concerned....
Its been raining cats and dogs here so excuse him as he is a little wet and shaggy! :)
Your saddle seems fine. He is down hill but he is still growing and I wouldn't be concerned yet. He isn't sway back so don't worry about that. His top line will improve with muscle and age.
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