7 Rules of Saddle Fitting: Towards A Perfect Fit

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1. Check the balance of the saddle:

As a general rule, when viewed from the side, the cantle of a general purpose saddle should be approximately one inch/4cm higher than the pommel. This is when the saddle is placed in the correct position on the horses back just behind the shoulder and girthed up with the horse standing square on flat, level ground. This will allow the rider to sit correctly in the classic shoulder-hip-heel line. Obviously the “inch/4cm rule” changes when a flat seat or deep seated dressage saddle is used.;

(Checks 2 – 5 are done un-girthed)

2. Check the arch of the saddle:

It just not to be too low and cause pressure on the spine nor too high which will mean the saddle is too tight and will pinch either side of the withers. In either of these scenarios you will probably lose the ever important balance and stability of the saddle. In this case, the rider cannot sit in a correct, effective position; the weight will not be evenly distributed across the weight bearing surface of the horse’s back, under the panels often causing discomfort.

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3. Check the points of the saddle:

When you stand by your horse’s side the points of the tree should follow the contours of the horses outline, running parallel with the area behind the shoulder where they sit. The tree is essentially the skeleton of the saddle and must follow the shape of your horses back. If the tree is the wrong shape for the horses back then no alteration to the panel will make sufficient correction – whether it be wool flocked, felt or air.

4. Check the contact of the saddle:

Feel underneath the panels to make sure there is contact throughout the horses back.

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5. Check the size:

The saddle must be an appropriate size for both horse and rider . No weight should be taken further back than the horses 18th thoracic vertebrae (T18). To check this, find the last rib and follow it up to where it meets the spine – that’s T18!

6. Check the clearance:

When the rider is on board check that there is sufficient clearance in the channel of the saddle for the panels to clear each side of the spine.

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7. Check the panels are even:

Stand behind the horse and make sure the panels look even on each side of the spine and that the saddle isn’t tipping over to one side or the other.

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