Saddle Fitting

Whether for dressage or for jumping, the saddle should conform to the basic requirements;

  • Comfort for the horse.
  • Comfort for the rider.
  • The shape of the saddle should enable the rider to maintain a symmetrically balanced position, aligned with the centre of the horses movement. 
  • The horses centre of balance moves according to the dynamic action of the gait. The saddle should allow the horse to move dynamically without stress or strain, and also enable the rider to maintain the correct position.
  • An improperly balanced saddle will affect the riders balance.  As a result the rider sits awkwardly resulting in poor posture, possibly leading to back pain.  Incorrectly stuffed saddles also impede any seat or leg aids. This in turn affects the horse, which bears the ever shifting weight of an unbalanced  rider.

A saddle that causes discomfort will inhibit the horses movement. The uneven distribution of the riders weight causes pressure points. This may lead to muscle atrophy, tenderness and stiffness in the horse.

A balanced comfortable saddle distributes weight evenly over the correct weight bearing surface of the horses back.

Saddles with gussets inserted into the rear of the panel have a wider, flatter bearing surface and spread the load more efficiently than one without. For example as seen on  dressage saddles.

A poorly fitting saddle tree can cause pinching and pressure points which can also create misbehaviour due to pain.

Equally important is the condition of the panels, to maintain balance they should be evenly and correctly flocked.  The bearing surfaces should be equal in size and shape, and allow enough room for the horses spine through the gullet.  This will promote a centralised seat providing a stable and even ride for beginners while enabling advanced riders to get the best performance from their horse.

A well balanced saddle should have:

  • Even distribution of the flock throughout the panel, without any bumps or lumps to cause pressure.
  • As broad bearing surface as possible to spread the weight of the rider.
  • To be level on either side of the horse.
  • Fit as closely as possible without any pressure on the spine.