Your horse won’t want to go very far if the saddle doesn’t fit properly. Many horses are sore in their backs and may try to avoid allowing you to ride all together if the saddle has been pinching them for quite some time.
An unbalanced saddle will also cause the rider to ride unbalanced, which can affect the natural gait of the horse as it compensates for your lack of balance.
The saddle should fit without pinching, rocking or creating pressure points. If a horse has bald spots around the base of the withers, it usually means that the saddle is rubbing in those areas.
The tree of the saddle must be the correct width and shape for the horse’s back. A saddle that is too wide will sit low on the withers and create pressure points on the top of the withers.
A saddle that is too narrow will pinch at the base of the withers and rub the hair off. A narrow saddle will also ride high in the front and cause the rider to be thrown back. This can also create pressure points on the back of the saddle.
The saddle should be balanced so that the rider is able to maintain his balance without being thrown in any direction.
The lowest part of the seat should be in the middle of the saddle. Many tack stores will allow you to try and test ride saddles to ensure that they fit your horse before you commit to buying them.
Quarter Horses are known for needing wide treed saddles, while Thoroughbred type horses are known for needing narrow treed saddles. Each horse within a breed will vary, however.
The saddle must fit you as well. It is much easier to fit the saddle to the rider than it is to fit the saddle to the horse. The best thing to do is try out several saddles in the tack store before you go try it out on your horse.
Most saddles are measured by their seat in inches, but to know which “size” you are, you will need to try several out at the tack shop. Check the saddle fit on your horse by placing it on the horse’s back without a saddle pad.
The part of the saddle should touch the horse’s spine, whether it is English or Western. You should also be able to fit two fingers between the saddle and the withers when the rider is mounted. Run your hand over the back of the horse’s shoulder blade and under the front of the saddle.
The saddle should not pinch or dig into these areas. This will allow the horse ample room for the spine and movement in the shoulders.
A saddle pad is often necessary for the comfort of the horse. There are various saddle pads for the type of saddle that you purchase. The saddle pad provides cushion between the saddle and your horse’s back.
This cushion allows for your weight to be evenly distributed along the back of the horse. This aids the horse in carrying your weight. You may also unbalance a horse if you use too much cushion.