Does your horse's saddle fit?

Learn how to check the fit of your horse's saddle with this easy-peasy guide. 

Enlisting the help of a qualified saddle fitter is vital when it comes to saddle fit, but there are a few things you can keep an eye on yourself

Enlisting the help of a qualified saddle fitter is vital when it comes to saddle fit, but there are a few things you can keep an eye on yourself

It goes without saying that we would always recommend you use a qualified saddle fitter whether you’re buying a new or second-hand saddle or checking your current saddle fits your horse well.

Whenever you see the Society of Master Saddles (SMS) logo you can be confident that you’re going to receive a professional and knowledgeable service, whether you’re buying a new saddle or need one altering.

Members of the SMS are the best in the industry, and a SMS retailer will stock at least three different English-manufactured saddles and have at least 50 saddles in stock.

What to expect when your saddle fitter arrives

Your saddle fitter will take templates of your horse’s withers, back and spine using a flexicurve

Your saddle fitter will take templates of your horse’s withers, back and spine using a flexicurve

When you first speak to your saddler they will ask you a series of questions – be completely honest with your answers, especially if they are coming out to you, as there are only so many saddles they can fit in their van.

Questions will include what you do with your horse, his age, breed and fitness, you may also be asked what your budget is.

Be honest with all your answers - these questions help them build a picture of you and your horse and to decide which saddles may be most suitable for you to try.

When the saddle fitter arrives they’ll spend some time taking templates of your horse’s withers, back and spine using a flexicurve.

They’ll also take your horse’s girth measurement.

Your saddle fitter will refer to these when he comes back and checks your saddle in the future.

This gives your fitter valuable information about where your horse might have changed shape.

These templates also help a fitter to decide what width of saddle will more than likely fit your horse.

Trying a new saddle

Then it’s time to try a few saddles – your fitter will check to see that the saddle panels sit evenly along your horse’s back, whether there is adequate clearance at the wither and that it allows the shoulder to move freely, once he’s happy with these first few checks it’s time to get you on board.

The saddle fitter will want to see you ride in walk, trot and canter on both reins. While you’re riding he’ll be making assessments on how the saddle is fitting now you are on the move.

Once you’ve ridden in all the saddles it’s time to give your feedback and generally discuss the feel and fit of each saddle.

When you’re completely happy it’s decision time – it may mean they can leave the saddle with you there and then, sometimes you may have to wait for your saddle to be made but your saddle fitter will be able to advise you on all of this.

Saddle fit tips

While you should always get a qualified saddle fitter to check or fit your saddle, there are a few things you can keen an eye on yourself. 

In the following video SMS Qualified saddle fitter Diane Fisher shows you what checks to make to ensure your horse's bridle and saddle are as comfortable as possible, or when it's time to call your fitter.

Now find your saddle

Click the article below to take a look at a range of saddles, tried and tested by Your Horse readers.