Your check list to help prevent problems occurring
A badly fitting saddle can cause discomfort to your horse by rubbing, pinching and impeding muscle development.
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.
The horse's movement and abilities may well be compromised and eventually manifest into bad behaviour and a reluctance to perform simple tasks.
These basic checks should be performed at regular intervals especially if your horse is gaining or losing weight and as they develop in fitness with the resulting change in the shape and contours of the top line.
NOTE: Always check the saddle fit without using numnahs or a saddlecloth underneath and insure it is securely girthed.
Firstly with your fingertips feel along the back area for any tenderness, lumps or soreness.
Secure the saddle in its usual position and check that the cantle (the back of the saddle) sits level and evenly on the horses' back with a clear gullet area. Top Image by Saddle World
View the saddle from the front: there should be a reasonable gap between the pommel (front) and the withers about two fingers width creating a clear gap.
Feel down the front of the saddle flaps, your hand (up to where your fingers meet your palm) should be able to move freely up and down this space to be sure that the saddle is not too tight over the shoulder.
Looking from the tail of your horse and from the front, compare how the saddle is sitting on both sides.
Are the flaps hanging evenly, is the contact at the back the same both sides and are the length of the flaps the same? Some horses may develop one side more that the other and this will alter the sit of the saddle.
Not quite sure?
Always seek a recommended saddle fitter, either from your local saddlery shop, instructor or friend. They will advise you on any alterations or changes which may be required to allow your horse more comfort.
Information which will aid the saddle fitter before their visit will include the age of your horse, breed, level of fitness and which type of saddle you require for whichever activity you participate in.
Caring for your tack read more, Behaviourial problems in your horse
Take good care of your saddlery to keep it supple and regularly check the fitting.