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iridehorses 01-23-2010 09:13 AM

Saddle fit
This question is asked so many times that I felt it should have a "sticky".

Aside from taking your horse to the tack shop or having a pro come out to fit him/her, how do you find the right fit without taking saddles home to try 6 or 7 times?

The method I recommend is 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 the inside of the wire 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.

How do you do it?

3neighs 01-23-2010 10:05 AM

FINALLY, someone had a mind to sticky this! Thank you, Bill!

I still have yet to find a saddle for Stella, my short-backed, extremely wide arab. You told me I most likely need a saddle with FQH bars and an 8" gullet. I haven't been able to find one in my price range. :( I've been riding mainly in a bareback pad for the last year. It's been so frustrating!

Honeysuga 01-24-2010 01:50 PM

That is actually exactly how I do it, and how I always recommend it be done to get the surefire best fit w/o having to call a pro fitter. Though I like to trailer the tack store whenever I buy a piece of tack(bridle, saddle,blankets, boots, bits, ect), they know my trailer now as many times as I have been there. I like to know that every piece of tack I buy is going to fit my horse(both esthetically and size/dimension) before I bring it home. Though I just happen to be lucky to live in a rural area with a tack store close by that is private owned and has a huge gravel parking lot and hitching pen close to the front doors...

smrobs 01-24-2010 02:00 PM

Holy Cow, 3neighs!!! An 8 inch gullet? I don't think I have seen anything that wide outside of a draft saddle LOL. Your girl must be very flat across her back.

I ride so many different horses that having a saddle picked to fit each horse really isn't practical. I ride mostly heavy stock horses so all my saddles are FQHB, though on some of the older saddles that my Dad had custom made decades ago have different gullet widths ranging from 6 1/2 to 7 1/2. If my saddle doesn't fit perfectly, I usually just pad them up and haven't noticed any problems. My saddle that I use now is a FQHB with a 7" gullet and the only horse that it doesn't even come close to fitting is Pokey, but he is built like a tank. I can for the most part, just eyeball a horse and figure which one would fit them best.

3neighs 01-24-2010 04:19 PM


Holy Cow, 3neighs!!! An 8 inch gullet? I don't think I have seen anything that wide outside of a draft saddle LOL. Your girl must be very flat across her back.

She is! I'm talking table top. lol!

Ray MacDonald 01-26-2010 01:23 PM

I love reading all the different tricks on how to find the right sized saddle for your horse. I heard that also using a simple wire coat hanger works good too!
I did have a question to ask but now I forget it! LOL

MIEventer 01-30-2010 05:00 PM

I found this and thought it to be very informative:

Saddle Fitting

Tasia 02-03-2010 11:26 PM

Lol my horse is 7 1/2 in gullet eek!

danastark 02-03-2010 11:38 PM

We have a short backed, very sensitive paint, had a hard time finding a western saddle that didn't make him buck. We have finally had success with a Abetta synthetic short-skirted saddle.

Vidaloco 03-08-2010 01:50 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Here is an example from my horse Vida. She is 7.5" if you go by the 3" down from wither measurement. That would be a FQHB in most saddles

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