Correct saddle fit
The basic principles of saddle fit remain the same whether english, western or endurance. The saddle must accommodate both the rider’s uniqueness in terms of pelvis, seat and legs and the horse’s back shape, length, width and movement.
The saddle tree must protect the horse’s spine, including the very important wither area, as well as the areas close to the spine that cannot bear weight. In addition, the bars and/or panels need to distribute the weight of the rider evenly over as large an area possible on the large muscle surface of the horse’s back. At the same time the saddle must not bear any weight past the 18th rib.
The saddle must not impinge on the horse’s shoulder movement while allowing the horse to use its back athletically; to engage, round its back, use its hind end and be able to “sit”.
The saddle should allow the rider to sit so that there is an easy alignment from hip joint to ankle regardless of riding style or sport.
Since many or all these components can change regularly, checking and evaluating saddle fit every 6 – 12 months is highly recommended.
Signs of bad saddle fit – Horse
* Sore Back – White spots on coat – Muscle atrophy on back
* Girthy or fidgety while being tacked
* Will not stand while being mounted
* Behavior issues that cannot be solved through changes in training
* Behavior changes from sweet to grumpy as soon as tack is brought out or tacking begins
* Cannot concentrate on rider, spooky
* Rushing downhill or towards jumps
* Tripping or stumbling
* Unable to round back or use hind end
* Unexplained lameness
* Cannot move to next level of performance
Signs of bad saddle fit – Rider
* Insecure feel in saddle
* Upper and lower back, seat, hip, and/or knee pain
* Difficult to impossible to maintain balanced, aligned position
* Seat, legs and hands cannot work independently
* Struggling to sit back or come forward in saddle
* Cannot move to next level of riding skill