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Saddle Fitting and Why It Is So Important

As part of my degree from Harper Adams University, I wrote a 10,000-word dissertation on saddle fitting. Due to COVID, I focused mainly on how much horse owners understood about saddle fitting and found that there are many owners who were often left confused and unsure about saddle fit.


Horses are constantly changing shape throughout the year due to changes in weight associated with the seasons and through the development of muscle. Therefore, it is recommended that you have a professional out to check your saddle at least every 6 months. This may seem excessive to some owners, but if you think that we use these saddles regularly, it is important to ensure that they fit perfectly to avoid any issues further down the line.


I always recommend that clients have their saddle checked regularly especially when treatment sessions are centred around building muscle and topline as this will change the dimensions of your horses back considerably. A saddle that does not fit or is pinching will cause pain and muscle cannot be built when pain is present.


It is also vitally important that your saddle does not interfere with your horse’s shoulder blades. The shoulder blade swings backwards and forwards against your horses’ ribs during motion, especially when jumping. If the saddle does not fit correctly, it can bang against the edge of the shoulder blade when it swings backwards and cause a shortened stiff stride, or cause your horse to start refusing to jump.


So how do you know if your saddle does not fit?

It is important to keep an eye on your horse’s body language and behaviour when you approach them with tack. If you notice that your horse throws their head up, swishes their tail, moves away or you notice twitching down their back, these can be signs of apprehension and discomfort. Book an appointment with your saddle fitter or ask your vet or physiotherapist for some further advice.


There are other signs of an ill-fitting saddle. Your horse may start to misbehave during ridden work or might start to refuse to jump. Quite often, horses begin to “misbehave” as a way of telling us that they are in pain, so it is important to listen to them. You may also notice some physical signs such as white patches of hair over the whither or back, or patches that your horse does not sweat after exercise. If you notice any of these signs, you should stop riding your horse immediately and seek professional advice from your saddle fitter, vet, or physiotherapist.


If you are ever unsure about the fit of your saddle, please do contact me for advice. Better still, book in for a consultation session where as part of my initial assessment and horsey MOT, I can check over your tack and offer you some advice.


Call: 07494505191

Email: goldneyequinephysio@gmail.com

Or find me on Facebook: facebook.com/GoldneyEquinePhysio/

*Please note that I am not a qualified saddle fitter so can only offer advice on saddle fitting. Goldney EquinePhysio is not responsible for any injury or damage caused by a saddle or tack and any serious issues should be dealt with by a qualified saddle fitter*

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