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how to fit an english saddle to a horse

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What size English saddle should I get?

This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the exact size you need, but it will be close. For instance, if you ride in a 15 western saddle, you will probably need a 17 English saddle. General seat sizes range from 14 up to 19 with 17 and 17.5 being the most common and most popular sizes. Measuring your Saddle Seat Size

How can I tell if my saddle fits correctly?

You know you have the proper saddle fit when:Your horse is relaxed and willing to obey commands easilyYou spend far more pleasurable hours in your saddle – as opposed to fighting with your horse to comply with your commandsYour saddle feels comfortable and fits like a worn gloveMore items…

How to put on an English saddle?

place the saddle pad across the horse’s back and over the withers so that the saddle pad can slide into the proper place when you put the saddle on. lay the saddle over the saddle pad, adjusting both the pad and the saddle so that the saddle is sitting behind the horse’s shoulder blade.

How to put an English saddle on a horse?

Method 1 Method 1 of 3: Placing the Saddle on the Horse Download ArticleGroom the horse before putting on a saddle. Any dirt or loose hair that gets caught between the horse and the saddle can cause chafing and discomfort.Run up the stirrup irons on the stirrup leathers. In other words,lift up the dangling stirrups and tuck them under the seat of the saddle.Detach the girth and set it aside. …More items…

What happens if a saddle is too wide?

If the points are too wide, the saddle will sit low in front, putting pressure on top of the withers or the back.

How many fingers between pommel and withers?

Therefore, you could consider three or even four fingers between the pommel and withers as acceptable. If you have too much space for your fingers, the tree may be too narrow. If you don’t have enough space, the saddle may be too wide. An example of good wither clearance. Panel contours shoulder nicely.

What is the point of a dressage saddle?

In a dressage saddle, the point of the cantle is designed to be higher than the point of the pommel —maybe a couple of inches higher—so your imaginary line should hit the cantle at such a point that there is space above the line. Good relationship of pommel to cantle. Saddle fits well behind shoulder blade.

How to fit a saddle for a horse?

To begin, ask your horse to stand squarely on level ground with his head and neck facing forward. You may find it helpful to have someone keep the horse still. As you go through the steps outlined here, monitor your horse.

Why don’t you use a saddle pad?

Don’t use a saddle pad because you want to see how the saddle sits directly on your horse. Place the saddle slightly forward on your horse’s withers, then slide it backward so that it stops at the natural resting place as dictated by his conformation.

Why is my horse’s saddle not shifting?

The saddle should remain fairly stable, not shifting side to side or rocking front to back. Shifting may be a result of your horse’s natural asymmetry , and a saddle fitter should be able to make suggestions to lessen or eliminate the problem.

Where is the saddle tree located on a horse?

When a rider’s weight is then added to the saddle, the points of the saddle tree located on each side of the pommel press on the horse’s shoulder blades , where they can hinder movement or cause pain. 2. Test wither clearance.

What affects how a saddle fits a rider?

The angle and length of the saddle flap can also affect how the saddle fits a rider. If you have long legs, you may need a forward flap.

How to know if a saddle fits your horse?

To evaluate how a saddle fits your horse, skip the saddle pad and put the saddle directly on your horse’s back.

What to do if your saddle is too wide?

If the saddle is just a little too wide, a thick half pad will help you get some clearance off the back. If the pommel or cantle is too low, you can try a riser pad to lift the front or back of the saddle. Saddle pads with pockets to add felt or foam “shims” can also help make custom adjustments where needed.

How to measure a saddle?

Saddles come in different seat sizes. On an English saddle, this is measured from the nailhead on the pommel to the center-top of the cantle. A saddle that is too big or too small will make it hard for you to stay balanced and keep your leg under your body. Your seat should be in the deepest part of the saddle with about one hand width behind you to the highest point of the cantle.

How to tell if a saddle is too narrow?

If the saddle is perched four fingers or more above the withers, it is probably too narrow for your horse. A too-narrow saddle may sit high in front and slope back toward the cantle.

How to check if a saddle is level?

If the wither clearance looks good, check that the saddle is sitting level on your horse’s back, not tilted up or down like a ski slope. Look at the deepest part of the seat to check that it’s in the right place.

How to fit an English saddle?

The last step in learning how to fit an english saddle is to take it for a test ride. If the saddle looks like it fits well from the ground, it’s time to go for a test ride to see how your horse goes in it. You probably already know if you ride a round pony that’s shaped like a barrel (no prominent withers) that you need a very wide saddle. If your lean Thoroughbred feels like sitting on the fence with your legs hanging straight down, he is quite narrow!

How to determine western saddle size?

The easiest conversion is to subtract two inches from the size of your English saddle, and you’ll be left with the size of your western saddle. Use the following chart to determine your Western saddle size based on your leg/seat measurement:

What happens if the saddle is too wide?

If the bars slide down very far past the spine , then the saddle is too wide. The bar width is closely related to the gullet clearance; a too-narrow bar width will cause a larger gullet space while a too-wide bar width will cause little to no gullet clearance.

Why is a saddle fitting important?

A good fitting saddle is imperative for the comfort of both horse and rider. It improves the way your horse will work, making them more willing. Instead of looking for the best-looking saddle or the cheapest deal, take a few minutes to get a proper saddle measurement and outfit your horse in the best tack for its body.

Why do horses need gullets?

The gullet is the long empty space that runs length-wise along the spine of the horse, and fitting this properly is crucial for preventing nerve pain and spinal injuries in your horse. A proper fitting saddle will allow you to see all the way through the gullet when viewed from the back.

What to ask a trainer about a saddle?

If you are working with a trainer, ask them for a recommendation! They can provide you with a better idea of what type of saddle you should choose and how much it should cost.

How to measure saddle seat size?

Seats come in a variety of sizes for the multiple body-types riders have. To measure your seat, sit in a chair with your back against the chair back and your feet on the floor.

How big is a saddle?

The measurement/size approximately equates as: A leg/seat measurement of 16.5 inches (41.9 cm) or less equals a 15 in (38 cm) saddle. A leg/seat measurement of 16.5 to 18.5 inches (41.9 to 47.0 cm) equals a 16 in (41 cm) saddle.

How to tell if a horse has a pinching saddle?

A horse whose saddle pinches his withers may be reluctant to go forward. Other more extreme signs of insufficient wither clearance are patches of white hairs ( not scatter ed individual white hairs) or sores on the top or on one or both sides of the withers.

Why should billets hang perpendicular to the ground?

The billets should hang perpendicular to the ground so that the girth is positioned properly and not angled either forwards or backwards.

Why does my saddle fall to one side?

Sometimes a saddle falls to one side because the gullet/channel is too narrow and/or the tree width or tree angle (to be discussed in Saddle Tips #8 and #9) is not correctly adjusted for the horse. So the larger shoulder kicks the saddle over to the other side.

What happens if your saddle is too high off the horse’s withers?

If your saddle is too high off the horse’s withers or too low in the back, this will cause a lot of excess uneven pressure on the horse’s loins. It will not only put you in the wrong position, but it will be very difficult for your horse to engage as it will be unable to come through with its back and step underneath itself into a correctly engaged frame.

What happens if your saddle is too low?

If your saddle is too low in front, it will pinch the horse’s shoulder - which is very restrictive for your horse! In this situation, your saddle may be too wide in the front or too high in the back.

How to tell if a horse’s shoulder blade is backwards?

To see just how much your own horse’s shoulder blade rotates backwards when he moves, stand on the side of your horse and mark the shoulder blade with a piece of chalk.

Why do saddles have clearance?

One of the reasons this is crucial is because when the horse moves, his shoulder blades rotate upwards and backwards. The saddle must have an opening (clearance) on the sides of his withers to accommodate the shoulder rotation.

How to measure for a saddle?

To measure for both Western and English saddles, evaluate your horse’s conformation. Cross-tie your horse or have a helper stand him square outside. Take a step back and scan your horse from the side, back and front. Does your horse have high withers or normal withers? A long or short back? A swap, dip or another anatomical difference that needs compensation?

What is the importance of fitting a saddle?

Learning to fit a saddle is one of the most important skills a horse owner can learn. A properly fitted saddle is comfortable for both you and your horse. If the saddle does not fit right, your horse can develop sores or even lameness. The basics of saddle fitting are the same no matter what discipline you ride.

What is a saddle made of?

Saddles are constructed around a wooden or plastic tree. The tree forms a skeleton around which sheets of leather or manmade fabric are placed, shaped and molded to form the saddle itself. The tree is shaped like the letter “T” with the bars of the tree fitting over the horse’s withers, or shoulders, and the long stem of the T running down along either side of the horse’s spine.

Why do saddles hurt?

Because the saddle panels sit on either side of the horse’s spine and on the muscles, proper fit is essential. If you have ever walked around in poorly fitting shoes, you know how painful it can be. The toes pinch, the heel slips, and before you know it, you’ve got a blister and aching feet. Think of how much worse it is for your horse if the saddle is too small, pinching along his shoulder muscles and back. A saddle that’s too big will slip around, causing painful back sores.

Why do you need a saddle when riding?

When the saddle fits properly, it conveys subtle signals of weight change to the horse through his back muscles and nerves. These signals help him understand and anticipate his rider’s commands.

How to know if a horse’s saddle is balanced?

Walk around your horse and note if the saddle looks even on both sides. It should appear balanced and centered on the horse’s back.

Why is saddle fitting so complicated?

Saddle fitting is complicated because you have not one, but two living beings to fit: a horse and rider. So far, we have discussed fitting the saddle to the horse. Let’s take a look at saddle fit for the rider. You determine correct rider saddle fit by the saddle’s seat size and flap length.

How to tell if a horse has uneven hair?

If you see unevenness in sweat marks or roughed-up hair on one side, get up on something high, like a mounting block, stand your horse square and see if his back and shoulders look symmetrical.

What does it mean when your horse has white hair?

Roughed-up hair and white spots mean there’s a problem. As soon as you see white hairs growing in under your saddle, get help. When you remove your horse’s saddle always check for areas where the hair has been rubbed in your ride. Hair should lie evenly flat and sweat marks should be relatively equal from side to side.

How do saddle fitters remove wool?

Fitters add or remove wool by removing stitching in the saddle panel and then using a special tool that pushes wool in or pulls some out. They then pound down the panels with a mallet until all is smooth again. Wool flocking always settles and changes over time, as does your horse’s back.

What is the difference between a Western saddle and an English saddle?

The most notable difference between English and Western saddles is that English saddles have stuffed panels that run along the horse’s back on either side of the spine. Besides the tree width and shape, the panels’ shape and depth impact saddle fit in important ways.

Why does my saddle fit so hard?

This is a conformation, training, or soundness problem that will definitely affect how your saddle fits your horse. All horses have some asymmetry, just like people. Severe asymmetry makes saddle fit a challenge. Conformation issues make saddle fit difficult.

Can you measure tree width for saddle?

Although you can measure for tree width and see if a saddle’s fit is close just by setting it on a horse’s back, many things change when you girth up, put a rider in the saddle, and the horse starts to move. Don’t buy a saddle without trying it in all three gaits. Saddles should not slide forward, backward, or roll.

Do horses need a tree?

Two horses might both need a medium-wide tree but have very differently shaped backs. The panels’ shape and depth are what help with this difference, and the width of the channel between the two panels can be incredibly important as well. Panels are stuffed with wool or foam.

What is an English Saddle?

English saddles are usually used in English riding disciplines such as hunter, jumper, dressage, eventing, fox hunting, and trail riding . Each riding discipline requires some variations in saddle design, but all English saddles are constructed to provide optimal freedom of movement to the horse.

Why is it important to fit a saddle?

Beyond safety for you and your horse, there are other reasons why getting your saddle size right is so important. Your ability to move and your riding effectiveness is impacted by the comfort of your saddle. And top performance requires a properly-fitted saddle.

How to determine saddle size for horse?

You can generally determine the size required by looking down on your horse’s back from a position above. An average-sized horse will usually need a medium gullet.

How to measure a horse’s gullet?

If you are unsure of the right size for the gullet for your horse, you can measure your horse’s withers. Take a flexible-but-firm wire and place it over the horse’s withers two inches behind the horse’s shoulder blade, then bend it so it lays over the withers against the horse’s skin.

How much room do you need for an English saddle?

You should have approximately a hand’s width of room both in front and in the back of your seat for the English saddle to be properly fitted. (Between two and four fingers is generally recommended). If you are in-between sizes, you should go up a size with a saddle that feels slightly too big to ensure that you are comfortable in the seat. You can adjust the fit incrementally with a saddle pad.

How to test fit of English saddle?

How to Test the Fit of an English Saddle. Before you use your new English saddle, you should check that it is the correct fit for both you and your horse. Place it on a sheet or very thin towel to test the fit instead of putting it on a saddle pad. A correctly-fitted saddle should not rest on the horse’s spine at all.

How to measure seat size?

The best way to measure for your seat size is to take the measurement of your thigh from your knee to your buttocks. Sit in a chair so your knees are at a 45-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor and with your buttocks touching the back of the chair. Using a measuring tape along your thigh, measure from the back of your knee to the back …

Why do horses dip their top line?

We see this often also due to horses dipping/dropping their top line in an attempt to get away from the pain of an ill fitting saddle. This can be corrected up to a point with our remuda saddle fitting pad. In this case if it is the only problem you would put shims in the middle only the same thickness as your gap.

Why does my saddle sit down hill?

Many saddle makers in an attempt to correct this have made the gullet width wider but leaving the angle the same which just puts the pressure point lower down on the withers , causes the saddle to want to sit “down hill”and then you also can have a problem with not having enough clearence/gullet height.

What is a saddle tree rocker?

Rocker = The shape/curve of the back from the scapula to the flank/cowlick area. Saddle tree bars have different rocker shapes, some straighter/flatter, some more arched/curved. You bump the wire right behind the shoulder blade in that “sweet spot” 4” down parallel to the spine/center of back.

What is the most important part of a horse?

Here again you can see how where we are taking the tracing relates to the saddle tree bars which is the most important part for the horse. All of your weight is distributed on these bars and you want as close to 100% in contact as possible, otherwise you get excess pressure points that are painful.

How much of the tree bar should be in contact with the horse back?

Ideally you want 100% of the whole surface of the tree bars in contact with the horse back so the weight and pressure is evenly distributed over a large surface for maximum comfort, fit and stability on the horses back.

How to measure thigh?

Thigh Measurement: sit in a saddle, on a horse, with your legs out of the stirrups, with your upper legs and knees as straight down as possible. Very important is your heels need to be in line with your shoulder! To help get in that position, over stretch your upper leg way back then relax.

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What Are Saddle Pads?

Saddle pads, also sometimes called numnah (in the UK), act as a protective barrier to provide a thin layer of cushioning between your horse’s back and its saddle. They serve several valuable functions: to reduce friction caused by the saddle rubbing against your horse, to prevent heat build-up, to decrease shock, to absorb perspiration, and to protect your saddle from rubbing and scratches.

What is Ecogold saddle pad?

If you’re looking to spoil your horse, have we got the saddle pad for you! This EcoGold pad offers the most advanced heat dissipation technology and moisture management available with a strategically-placed air vent. It also offers fantastic shock absorption and friction protection.

What is a comfort pad?

Comfort Pads — Also called pillow pads, these pads are filled with quilted polyester batting for added comfort. They are similar in shape to the square pads. Using this type of pad does require that your saddle be able to accommodate the additional thickness, so you will want to check the saddle fit before you buy one.

Why do you need a saddle pad for a horse?

You may also use one if your horse’s saddle is not a perfect fit due to its natural asymmetry. These options may reduce the severity of the problem to make things more comfortable for your horse.

What is a hunter pad?

Hands down, this one of our best selling hunter show pads. This high-end pad features Fleeceworks’ perfect balance system with removable inserts. It’s anatomically correct and versatile. The show hunter pad can be used with closed contact and all purpose saddles, and it has pockets for inserts to correct your saddle fit. The banded edges help facilitate the closest possible connection between your leg and the horse.

What is a baby pad?

Baby Pads — This ultra-thin sheet offers little to no cushion or protection. In the U.S. it is commonly used as an inexpensive pad under half pads to keep them clean and to reduce laundering of the larger pads.

What is a keyhole pad?

Wither back pads, commonly referred to as Key Hole pads, have open slots over the withers that relieve pressure on the spine and improve saddle fit.

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