How to Fit a Saddle

If you always go horseback riding, there’s one important task you need to learn, and that is to learn how to fit a saddle properly. A well-fitting saddle is needed for the comfort of both the horse and the rider, improving your natural movement, riding form and distribute the weight of the riding properly. If you don’t know how to fit a saddle properly, here’s how.

What You’ll Need:

Measuring tape


Choose a saddle that’s made for your horse breed. Different breeds are shaped differently. Also, make sure you choose a saddle that suits the horseback riding activity you have in mind. For example, a racing saddle when used for jumping will both be uncomfortable and dangerous.

Tie your horse on a flat surface. If it’s your first time to do this, ask someone to help you out. Unless you’re already a professional, never attempt to saddle a horse by yourself. It’s also a good precaution to saddle a horse who’s familiar with you.

Get the saddle and put it in the correct position, removing the saddle cloth or “numnah” the saddle usually sits on. Do not fit a saddle with anything underneath it. Position the saddle slightly up the neck of the horse, sliding it backwards gently, so it fits directly behind the horse’s shoulder blade. To determine that you’re already at the shoulder blade, feel around for a large lump under the wither area.

Look at the saddle from in front and behind. It’s important that you clearly see light that’s passing through the gullet or channel that’s running through your saddle. Make sure there’s a clear distance that’s at least three to four fingers when you put your hand at the pommel area (the arch at the saddle’s front).

Examine the seat area. When you look at it from the side, it should look horizontal. If you look at it from the front, the saddle must fit snugly around the shoulders of the horse.

Check that you have the right length, by sitting on the saddle. A saddle that’s too long puts pressure on the loins of the horse, causing a sore back. If it extends past the horse’s last rib, it puts pressure on his internal organs. As you sit, you must be able to fit one hands width at the arch at the front and at the back of the pommel, and one hands width in front of the cantle too, found at the saddle’s back.

Using your measuring tape, measure your saddle. Start from the cantle’s center, going to the back of the saddle, then to the point of tree at the saddle’s front. The rule is, an adult’s saddle must be 17 inches or more, while a saddle for kids are 16 inches and below.

Do up the girth straps firmly. Tug on the saddle, making sure it fits snugly.

It’s now time to try the saddle. Sit on it and ride it around. It must not move excessively, while you canter, trot or walk, and must always be in contact with the skin on the horse’s back.

Every good horseback rider knows not to underestimate the importance of a good-fitting saddle. Just follow these steps, so you and your horse will always have a good riding experience.

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