How To Fit A Saddle

by Jordan Manfredi
According to dressage rider, Julia Field, there are only 3 steps you need to know when fitting a saddle. If this is true then that is simply amazing! Here at Horse Tack Co. we decided to put her method to the test using our trusty thoroughbred Maximiliano and here are our results. First she asks the question: Shoulders - are they even? The nearside shoulder (A) is different and looks "fuller" doesn't it when compared to (B) the offside shoulder.Saddle1 80% of horses have one shoulder larger or more developed than the other. Take a photo if you can and then observe which shoulder is larger. This means your horse is more dominant with that leg, perhaps grazing with it forward more often than not, preferring to go with that leg on the inside of the circle. Standing on a bucket you can also see how straight your horses spine is (C). Is it straight, does it have a curve, are there any lumps or bumps? To ensure you get an accurate picture make sure your horse is standing square. I loved these suggestions she offers. Thankfully Max's shoulders were even. I did stand on a feed bucket to double check. Next, Julia suggests finding the back of your horses shoulder. saddle2 The blue arrows in this photo are where your horses shoulder blade or scapula are located. The arrow closest to the horses neck shows the widest part of the shoulder. The arrow on the horses mid section is pointing to the back of the shoulder. If you run your hand over your horses shoulder from front to back you should "fall off" the back of the shoulder. The front of your saddle panel should sit just behind the shoulder blade not on the shoulder. I found this to be a bit tricky. The picture she provided was helpful. I looked at it while running my hand over Max's shoulder. Lastly, Julia says to find your horses last or 18th rib. saddle3
The blue arrow shows the location of the last rib on this horse. To find this you can use two methods:
  1. Look for where the horses coat on their flank comes together "watershed line"
  2. Feel for the last rib and follow this straight up to your horses spine
Your saddle panels should not sit on your horses back beyond this point. Don't be tempted to move your saddle onto the shoulder to make it look like it fits. If your saddle panel goes past the 18th rib then it could potentially do damage to your horses back. This was easy to find, as it should be on most horses. I used the second method she suggested. Once my saddle was securely in place I enjoyed a nice trail ride in the crisp autumn air. I have to say, I did feel safe and secure in the saddle!

Now that your saddle is fitting well, check out our Clearance Sale to make the most of your next ride.

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