Saddle fitting….what’s it all about? As a fellow equestrian, I know that saddle fit can be too often overlooked or over-corrected. We seem to think naturally that adding pads under our saddles will provide the relief or cushioning necessary to avoid saddle fit issues and keep the horse’s back free of pain. It is however, too often that we over-pad our horses under our saddles, which can lead to increased pressure points and chronic pain.
Saddle fitting is a process of evaluating the saddle, the saddle-horse compliance, the saddle-rider compliance and the saddle-horse-rider compliance. We must actually evaluate all aspects of this in order to assure this is the proper saddle for the horse and rider together. As imperfect humans, we also tend to have our natural flaws or ways in which we ride. I am guilty of tending to sit slightly into my left stirrup without even thinking about it. This minor shift in weight while riding can and will cause changes in my horse’s back in turn. It is important to address these issues before they become chronic pain for the horse. Regular chiropractic adjustments assure that my horse will not withstand long term effects from my natural flaw or way of riding. In the same manner, as no saddle is perfect and our horses bodies are ever changing with each season, the saddle will never fit the horse perfectly. We must aim to find the best match possible for both horse and rider and appreciate that some saddle fit issues are inevitable. This again, is why maintenance adjustments are so important.
Do you have a minor saddle fit issue? Does the saddle fit well everywhere but right below the withers? Or maybe you have a tree that is too wide at the withers but great along the rest of the spine. Don’t have money for a brand new saddle right now? No worries, some minor saddle fit issues can be addressed with the use of shims. Shims are pads used in special saddle pads that can be placed in certain areas to help correct a minor saddle fit issue. A saddle pad with compartments works well to use shims in only the areas needed. These are especially useful when an under-muscled or out-of-work horse is in training. The horse’s back will change along with the change in musculature. The shims can be used or removed as needed in order to keep the same saddle for the term of the training.
Saddle fit should be considered when a horse presents with pain or discomfort along the withers and/or back, when the horse shows agitation at the time of saddling or girthing and also whenever a new saddle or horse is purchased.
Please Contact Us to schedule a saddle fit session today!