Evaluate Saddle Fit
EVALUATING SADDLE FIT
Perform the steps below
Girth the saddle up with just a regular pad. Stand to the side and look at the front-to-back balance of the saddle on the horse. The saddle should be level. The cantle should be level with, or higher than the pommel. This is the most important indicator of fit. A saddle that is too wide will sit low in the front. A saddle that is too narrow will tip back. In both situations this will interfere with the rider’s balance, and in turn affect the horse’s ability to move correctly.
Be sure that the pommel does not touch or rub the horse’s withers.
With the saddle girthed, lift the flap and feel the panels from front to back to see if the panels are touching the horse’s back. The panels should in fact, touch the horse’s back all the way without any gaps or “bridging”. If there is bridging, a saddle fitter MAY be able to adjust the flocking to conform to the horse’s back. In some cases the tree may be the wrong shape from front to back and flocking is not possible.
After you’ve checked all of these things from the ground, it’s time to ride in the saddle. A rider’s weight will lower the saddle on the horse so check again for clearance under the pommel. There’s no set number of fingers required, but be sure the withers are not being touched. Remember – hoop trees will sit closer to the withers. Slight bridging may disappear with the rider up.
At DUETT we encourage you to ride in the saddle as much as you can during the trial period. The saddle is new so the flocking will compress slightly during the first 20 – 30 hours of riding. Even if the saddle does not look perfect from the ground, it may change with the rider up.
*Note: The saddle may not fit perfectly. Some bridging or imbalance may be present even though the saddle is fitting. This is the beauty of wool flocking. It is a simple matter for a saddle-fitter to come and adjust the flocking to make the panels conform perfectly to your horse’s back.
CHOOSING THE CORRECT WIDTH FOR YOUR HORSE
Remember that the pommel clearance is not a good indication of fit for the horse, because some saddle styles have low pommels and some have high pommels and cantles to create the deeper seat for the rider. Keep in mind that “hoop” trees sit closer to the horse’s wither but should NEVER touch.
Balance is key. You would ideally want the middle of the seat to sit parallel to the ground. Visualize a marble in the center of the seat and it not rolling forward or back. That is level. If the saddle is not wide enough, the pommel will be high and the marble will roll to the back. In this scenario the rider is unbalanced and is in the back of the saddle. If the saddle is too wide, the marble rolls forward and this tips the rider forward.
The worst thing to do is get a saddle that’s too narrow and put shims under the cantle to make it level. This is never a good idea.
It would be better to have a saddle that is too wide than too narrow (too wide you can fix with correction pads). But, our goal at Duett is to fit your horse with a saddle that will not require any special padding, only a quilted base pad.