CHECKING YOUR OWN SADDLE - FITTING GUIDE
1. Place the saddle on the horse and girth it up securely on the recommend girth straps. Making sure the saddle is placed 2 fingers behind the scapular/shoulder.
2. Check the balance of the saddle to see if it is level, you can do this by placing a rolling object on the seat it will roll to the lowest point. If it runs to the front of the saddle the saddle may be too wide if it runs to the back of the seat the saddle maybe too narrow. Riding in a new saddle can change the balance as the saddle beds in.
3. Check the wither clearance this can be 2 – 4 fingers, it will come down considerably once the saddle is ridden in.
4. Run your hand down the front of the panel (see next photo) this should be easy to do, if it feels tight it could be that you have placed the saddle too far forwards against the scapular/shoulder blade or that you need a different tree width. Tightness can be caused both by the saddle being too wide so all the weight is concentrated at the top edge of the saddle either side of the withers, or by being too narrow which means the panel will feel too tight lower down near the end of the tree points located under the point pockets.
5. Check for bridging; this means there would be a noticeable gap between the horses back and the centre of the saddle panel, this would indicate that the horses need a different tree or panel shape, a smaller seat size, more flocking in the centre of the saddle or a wider saddle. The girth must be firmly done up before you check for bridging.
6. Make sure the saddle is not sitting past the last rib - find the last rib low down on the flank and follow it up diagonally.
7. Now check for pivoting by placing your hands on the pommel and cantle and seeing if there is any excessive movement from back to front. If there is excessive movement you may need a flatter tree, a less curved panel or the saddle could be too wide at the front or requite flock balancing.
8. With every saddle fitting or saddle check you will have been told which girth straps to use. All our saddles have four girth straps including point and balance, see photo to the right.
We recommend that most New Forest ponies, Exmoor ponies, Connemara ponies and all small M&Ms often need the 1st & 3rd girth straps.
Large cobs, Traditional cobs, Welsh cobs or horses where rolling is a problem often need 1st & 4th girth straps. Large draft horses can often need 1st & 4th or 2nd & 4th. In some case where the horse has an asymmetry we may advise girthing asymmetrically.
9. Once you are happy the saddle is suitable try using the saddle in walk, trot and canter, it’s best to ride at a walk for 10 minuets then check the girth before trot and canter as the saddle can bed in and leave the girth quite loose. The saddle needs to be stable in all paces - excessive movement at the back indicates that either the tree is too curved or possibly to wide, or that the saddle panel needs some adjustment for your horse.
10. After riding check the horse’s coat under the saddle; swirled or ruffled hair means the saddle is unstable, the hair should all be smooth.
Disclaimer of Liability
The authors and publisher of this basic saddle fitting guide shall have neither responsibility nor liability to any entity or person with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in this guide. While the information is as accurate as the authors can make it, there may be errors, omissions and inaccuracies.