February is Free Saddle Fitting Month
Must haul into our location
Call: (253) 906-1105
Does My Saddle Fit?
Choosing a saddle can be difficult and deciding what is right for you as well as your horse are important. Here we will explain why a saddle may not be fitting your horse properly and the problems that can arise. Then we'll explain why a custom made saddle may eliminate many saddle fitting issues.
Most saddles on the market today are constructed from a common "general fit" tree and some don't displace weight properly. Some may fit for the most part yet it could be causing some discomfort if the tree is not the right fit for your horse. If your saddle is not fitting your horse well you as a rider will not be balanced in the saddle making it difficult to ride properly. If the saddle is too wide, the saddle will move back and you will be pitched forward and that can make riding very uncomfortable. Having a saddle customized to specifically fit your horse and you is an option.
Below we will show how we fit Mocha into a good fitting saddle and explain some specific things to look for when a saddle does or does not fit.
The above photo shows a tree model placed on Mochas back. The tree is the base on which a saddle is constructed. While appropriate in size for me, this is not a good fit for Mocha as we will demonstrate below.
The saddle tree distributes the weight of a rider on the horse's back. With a poor saddle fit, it is possible to slide your hand underneath the saddle and feel gaping areas with no contact between the saddle and the horse's back. This indicates that the saddle will not distribute weight evenly.
This photo to the right clearly shows how a saddle made from this tree would dig into Mocha's shoulders.
In this photo (left) you can see the gaps between Mocha and the tree. Notice how this tree would hit the wither area (under the horn) as well which would cause a great deal of pain even without the weight of a rider. Horses with high withers require a higher pommel (area where the horn sits)
This photo (right) shows an example of a poor saddle fit for Mocha. If this saddle fit properly it would not easily slip to the side when putting weight into a stirrup. I have seen this many times on the trail and it can be very dangerous for you and your horse. Many people will try to alleviate poor saddle fit with the addition of a neoprene pad, crupper and breast collar yet this will not fix a problem fit and could even cause permanent problems. There are exceptions to this rule in horses that have no withers. Horses built like this can have issues with saddle slippage.
There are some obvious indications a horse will give you when a saddle doesn't fit. You may notice white spots developing in the saddle area. If you find that your horse will not move willingly, rears up, bucks, swishes it's tail or you are having to adjust your saddle as discussed above or maybe your horse is aggressive and won't stand still while being saddled, these are all indications that the saddle is causing pain to your horse which could make your ride very unpleasant.
Proper Saddle Fit
A good saddle fit is determined by good contact with the bar area of the saddle and the horse’s back. Weight is being distributed evenly, with good wither clearance and enough room in the shoulder area allowing natural movement for the horse.
In the image above Pam is showing how the form placed on Mocha's back has enough space between the form and Mochas shoulder area with even contact and little to no gaps throughout the bar area, which is the area that comes in contact with the back of the horse.
Slightly more room is desirable in the shoulder area especially in gaited breeds due to their animated shoulder action. Mocha is not gaited although she has Paso Fino and Quarter Horse in her breed, she has huge shoulders with predominant withers. Most saddles with straighter bars will not work for her as her shoulders will gradually push the saddle back when ridden. If you are having to constantly adjust your saddle forward you may need a saddle with more flare in the front as shown above.
About Shim Pads
Horses are like people and not generally symmetric, tending to be stronger and develop more muscle on one side. In this case you could use a shim pad which can fill in areas slightly.
A Word of Caution:
Shim pads cannot be a fix for a poor fitting saddle and never to be used if your saddle is too narrow. Imagine a boot being a bit too small and you put heavy boot socks on and head out for a day hike with a 30 pound backpack. I don't think you would make it far before you would want to turn around and "Go back to the barn"
My dear Mocha......thank you for tolerating the times when I did not know that you were just trying to tell me you needed a saddle that fit and not just being a bad girl, just very uncomfortable.
Here we have Mocha in a saddle that is fitting her well.
Happy Trails Mocha!
Pictured below are the various fit forms used for saddle fitting and the tree used in the saddle fitting demonstration on Mocha.
Once we determine the best fit for your horse we can customize a saddle specifically for you and your horse. If you are unable to haul into our location we can assist you in making a wither tracing. Another option would be sending you various fit forms and helping you choose the best form to build your saddle. At Pam's Place Tack we can fit even the hardest to fit horse.
Below are the various ways we can determine fit for your horse
Haul In: If you have the opportunity to haul into our location we can fit your horse to a specific fit form. Charge for each fitting session is $55.00
Travel to You: We can travel to you for a saddle fitting In this case it would be more cost effective to have several horses to fit. Travel time and fuel charges are assessed as well as $55.00 for each fitting session.
Equimeasure Fit Kit: Works very well for fitting and is ideal if you are not able to ship into our location. This kit can be mailed out to you and you can make a fiberglass form of your horses back. This procedure costs $170.00 for the kit including shipping charges both ways.
Wither Tracing: We can work off wither tracings to fit your horse.
We can send you a word document that will explain the proper way to take a wither tracing then send the wither tracing to us. We then can advise you what fit would work best for your horse. This procedure is free of charge.
50% down is required to place an order with the remainder due before the saddle is shipped from the craftsmen. We do have a LAYAWAY program on new non-sale saddles.
Call us today and we will assist you with your custom order.
Thank you for visiting our Saddle Fitting Page!