Proper Saddle Fitting - Part I
There are clues that will help you determine if your saddle is the proper fit or compromising your horse’s comfort and performance. Most riders are aware of some of the discomfort signals while riding and we will touch on more of that in part II. However, today’s article is going to touch on the tell-tale signs that you can see before and after your ride.
A horse that is suffering from an ill-fitting saddle may actually not enjoy being touched or brushed. Further, if you run your fingers down their back over the muscles that run on either side of the spine ( longissimus dorsi muscles shown in red below), they may “sink” down in response or tense up the muscle. Depending upon their personality, they may even go so far as to “lash” their tail, pin their ears, and bite at you. They may further show their discomfort by refusing to stand still while being tacked as well as “blowing up” with air while being girthed, hoping to relieve the pressure once you stop tightening.
After their work out, when you remove the saddle, take a good look at the sweat mark under your saddle pad. The mark should be even and consistent over the entire saddle area. If you see a pattern of uneven sweat marks, that is a sign of uneven pressure points. The dry spots constitute the areas of too much pressure. Take a note of the location of those areas. Do they lie over the shoulder? Do they lie under the seat? Further back under the cantle area? This information will add to helping us find the correct saddle for your horse.