These basic checks should be performed at regular intervals especially if the horse is gaining or losing weight and as they develop in fitness and consequently change shape along the top line.
Always check without using any numnahs or saddlecloths underneath and that it is securely girthed.
- Look at the saddle on your horse, for instance does the saddle sit level on your horse's back or not? Perhaps you already feel as if the saddle is pushing you forwards or backwards when you are sitting on it.
- Look at your saddle from in front, the side and behind. Standing in front, can you see a reasonable gap between the horse's withers and the saddle pommel? You ought to be able to get a couple of fingers' width in here.
- From the side, does the saddle have a good contact with the horse - or can you see that the panels of the saddle at the back are just in fresh air and not touching the horse's back at all? Can you easily lift the back of the saddle away from your horse's back? If so, this is not good!
- Feel down the front of the saddle, either side. You should be able to get your hand (up to where your fingers meet your palm) relatively easily between the horse's skin and the underside of the saddle. If you find that your hand gets stuck as you try to move your hand from the pommel down, then the saddle is too tight.
- Looking from the back and the side, do the saddle panels sit evenly on the horse's back or is one side only slightly in contact. Some horses are not muscled evenly so a saddler may have to adapt padding to accommodate this.
- Feel from the front to the rear of the saddle, running your hand along the saddle panels as they sit on the horse's back. Is there contact between the saddle and horse's back all the way along? If there's a gap in the middle the saddle is said to be bridging the horse, which is not good. A saddle that bridges can cause pain to the horse's shoulder and lumbar area.
- You could also lunge your horse with and without his saddle. Notice whether he is equally happy and willing to go forwards on both reins. If his saddle hurts him you will see that his stride is shorter and, depending on your horse's temperament, he may have his ears back and look less happy. Fitting a saddle read more