Finding a properly fitted saddle may be a bit of a challenge but as a rider, it is one of the most important things to keep in mind. A correctly fitting saddle will ensure comfortable movement for you and your equine partner. An ill-fitting saddle can cause a lot of damage to your horse’s back and greatly affect his or her movement. This can also cause discomfort for your horse along with unexpected behavioral issues.
Some things to keep in mind when saddle fitting are: 1) saddle construction, 2) anatomy and dynamic movement of a horse and 3) impact of the rider. You also want to make sure that the saddle is going to serve the correct purpose and fits within your budget.
The tree of the saddle is what will determine if the saddle fits correctly or not. Saddle trees come in many different sizes and it is important to keep in mind that every horse is built differently. Trees can be made of wood, bull rawhide or fiberglass. Fiberglass trees have the most flexibility of the three.
When fitting the horse, you want to make sure that the saddle bridges the spine. A saddle that is too wide will sit directly on your horse’s spine, causing him or her discomfort.
You also want to make sure the saddle fits your horse’s shoulders. This is an area where the saddle can really pinch the horse. When fitting for this, the saddle should be secure on the horse’s back but you should be able to easily slide your hand under the saddle and touch your horse.
Point of Hip/Loin
An area that people often forget about is the point of hip or loin area. Many saddles nowadays have longer skirts. When fitting your saddle, you want to make sure that the saddle follows the contour of the horse’s back. The skirt of the saddle may affect the loin of a horse with a shorter back. You also want to make sure that the skirt is not too long to the point where it is rubbing on your horse’s hips.
Saddle fitting is extremely important. If you do not feel comfortable fitting your horse, you may want to hire a professional to evaluate you horse and saddle combo.
For more information on saddle fitting visit: http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=17752&src=topic