How can I check whether my western saddle fits correctly?
Saddle fitting… It is possible to make a rough estimate yourself. However, the fit is very difficult to assess with a western saddle since the tree and the bars with a fabric made saddle are impossible to see because of the leather. And the fit depends on this parts in particular. 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. Before purchasing a new saddle, it is recommended to have it made by experts, which guarantees the right fit.
You can possibly get your own rough estimate with the following tips.
Click here if you have an English 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):
- With a new (ready-made) western saddle, the leather is still stiff and the fit will therefore gradually change *
- Place your saddle without a pad on the back of the horse, in the right place where you can see that the concho (in front of the saddle at the fork) is just behind the shoulder blade. You can also feel where the edge of the shoulder blade ends with your flat hand under the saddle.
- At the withers there must be a space of 3 or 4 fingers between the withers and the saddle (fork), after fitting there must still be 2, 3 fingers between them
- Feel at the shoulder blade under the saddle or the saddle does not “clamp” on the shoulder. Due to its shape, the saddle is slightly over the shoulder blade and should not press here. You have to be able to get under it with your hand on each side
- The saddle may not “bridge”, because then it is usually too long. The weight has to distribute evenly over the bars of the saddle
- Grasp the horn of the saddle with your hand and see if you can “rock” the saddle backwards. This should not be possible when it fits.
- Push the horn of the saddle with your hand down and see if the saddle does not “swing up” from behind. This should not be possible when it fits.
An informative video
With lots of good clear tips to check for!
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. And the balance of the saddle. 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.