How can I check whether my saddle fits correctly?
Saddle fitting… It is possible to make a rough estimate yourself. However, often the details are also important. It is therefore wise to have an expert check the position of the saddle regularly. They know exactly what to pay attention to at detail level.
You can possibly get your own rough estimate with the following tips.
Click here if you have a western saddle.
Next to your horse without the saddle (from the ground):
- View your horse thoroughly. Look from the withers over the length of the back and down (over the shoulder blades). Check for (more) white hair, thickenings such as bumps, warm spots or abrasions.
- Feel over the length of the back and pay attention to the points mentioned above and to sensitive areas where the horse responds to your touch. To do this, go with your thumb and index finger along the backbone of your horse from the withers over the back.
- Feel with a flat hand over the shoulder blades and from the shoulder blades over the back and pay attention to the points above.
- Also check the first 3 mentioned points regularly after riding
- Pay attention to whether your horse reacts (ears pinnend down, biting, turning away, etc.) when you put on or attach the saddle. This can be a sign that it is not or (no longer) right.
Next to your horse with saddle (from the ground):
- Place your saddle without a pad on the back of the horse, in the right place (2 fingers behind the shoulderblades).
- Then let the stirrups hang down. You can tell from the stirrup straps whether the saddle and the lowest point in the saddle are straight, tilted backwards or tilted forward. The stirrup straps should run straight over the saddle flap along with some space along the kneepad.
- When the saddle and lowest point is inclined to the rear, the saddle is too narrow and the kneepads protrude and it appears that the stirrup straps hang diagonally (see picture on the right)
- When the saddle and lowest point tilts forward, the saddle is too wide. The kneepads stick back, and when this is very clear, the stirrup straps even hang over the kneespads.
- Put some pressure from above on the front of the saddle (pommel), when the back of the saddle “lifts up” the saddle is too wide.
- Feel with your hand under the seat cushions and check whether the cushions touch the back everywhere evenly
- At the withers there must be a space of 3 or 4 fingers between the withers and the saddle, after cinching there must still be room for 2 fingers between the saddle and the withers.
- Feel at the shoulder blade whether the saddle is not “jammed” behind the shoulder blade. The saddle must be resting against the shoulder blade and not press on it. The top of the shoulder blade consists of cartilage and is very difficult to feel. Often it also does not exactly follow the hard edge of the shoulder blade, but it continues. This must also be taken into account.
- Feel over the ribs of the horse to the last rib (towards the hindquarters). At the last rib, move your hand over the rib up to the spine. The saddle must not be longer than this point. Preferably it should end with a few fingers before this point.
- Also check the first 3 mentioned points regularly after riding.
An informative video
Pay attention to your horse’s reaction (signs of irritation or pain) and check whether your horse can relax and move well. The saddle can be so badly positioned that the horse cannot raise its back and therefore cannot really move relaxed. After riding, check whether the saddle has, for example, shifted.
Do you fit in the saddle?
Something most people don’t think of, do you fit yourself in the saddle? It comes down to your pubic bone and your seatbones and the distance between them. A good saddle fitter also takes a good look at your anatomy and if you fit well in the saddle. With women this is more difficult than with men.