Poor saddle fit is one of the main contributors to resistant behaviour in horses and to start this way with a young horse would be a real shame. When horses are experiencing back problems they have two choices – do something about it or learn to live with it.

Common Symptoms:

  • Subtle shortening of stride, hollowing through transitions, tripping. Stopping when jumping.
  • Pulling faces when approached with their saddle, turning away/ walking away.
  • Shooting off when mounted (‘cold backed’)
  • Bucking or rearing
  • Heat or sensitivity of back muscles, ‘knotted up’
  • Look out for a change of temperament! Your horse will try to tell you!
  • Look at the balance of the saddle…High at the front (too narrow) throws rider’s weight onto the loins
  • Sitting on withers and wobbly front to back (too wide). Too much movement.
  • Weigh your horse regularly A change of 40 kgs can be a difference of a width fitting.
  • What to do? STOP RIDING and give us a call!

It means that the saddle is not coming in contact with the wither at any time, no matter what activity you’re pursuing. On a high-withered horse, “adequate” clearance may be 2 or 3 fingers’ width, but on a “barrel bodied” horse with a broad back and low wither, the saddle may have less clearance – and that’s fine. Saddles tend to sit lower on the real round horses – there’s less lateral roll if the saddle isn’t perching up high. As long as the fit is correct and the saddle is clearing the wither at all times, the clearance can be considered “adequate”.

For foam-flocked saddles, probably not (unless your horse’s back has changed somehow, or unless you notice a change in balance, clearance, or your horse’s way of going). But for wool-flocked saddles, definitely. Saddles with wool flocking will settle and conform to your horse’s back after about 20 hours of riding. Some of the more softly-flocked saddles, like the Black Country’s and Frank Baines, may need to be looked at sooner. If you notice any of the changes mentioned above, please don’t wait to have the fit assessed and adjusted as necessary – CALL me to come out – Please see prices page for first visit charges

As a rule of thumb every 12 months, depending on the disciplines you and your horse working within and his age.