All horse owners love a good saddle and a smart bridle. However, regardless of what make or brand the most important thing is that it fits. Ill fitting tack, can lead to tight muscles, pain and in the wort situations lameness and back issues. Therefore it is important that you get your saddle regularly checked and fitted.
Things to look for when getting a saddle fitted:
Ensure that the person that is fitting your saddle is suitably qualified. A master saddler should be used. The list of Master saddlers can be found here: www.mastersaddlers.co.uk
- The angle of the saddle’s tree must correspond to the shape of the horse’s back, behind the shoulder, this prevents excessive movement and therefore pain.
- The saddle must have even weight bearing surfaces, that are as big as possible, and come into even contact with the horse’s back. If the contact is not even then pressure points will occur.
- It should be possible to place a flat hand between the front of the tree and the horse’s shoulder, immediately behind the scapula, and to slide the hand evenly from top to bottom. This should be done when the girth is not tightened.
- The gap across the gullet area must be sufficiently wide to prevent it pressing on the side of the vertebrae throughout the entire length of the saddle.
- There should be no unusual movement, such as the saddle moving up and down or to either side in an excessive way.
- The rear of the saddle must never extend beyond the horse’s last rib
Reasons for ill fitting saddles:
- Weight gain or loss
- Increased topline through muscle development
- Irregular saddle checks – Depending on the work load, saddles should be checked at least three times a year.
It is vital to ensure you check how well your saddle fits and get it rechecked often. This will help to prevent problems such as back pain, muscle pain and lameness in your four legged friend.