Saddle Fitting for the Wider Horse or Pony
Without doubt, certain types of horses and ponies are by nature harder to fit a saddle to. For those horses with less wither and wider, flatter backs it can prove more difficult when it comes to saddle fitting.
Here, the Society of Master Saddlers give advice on common problems caused by ill-fitting saddles on the less wither, wide and flat backed horse.
The wider, flat backed horse type of conformation can lead to a host of issues which need to be considered by a qualified Master Saddlers’ fitter.
Whether choosing a new or second hand saddle, you will need to consider various points before selecting the best type. Points to consider include; activities you are undertaking with your horse or pony, his shape, development and age.
A common problem with a wider, flat backed horse may be the saddle slipping back, or around the horse when in use. A saddle that does this will impact on the horse’s way of going whether the rider is on board, or not. It will also affect the rider’s balance an position in the seat.
The saddle must be comfortable and in the case of the younger rider make them feel secure to help build confidence, but it is equally important that the horse or pony is also comfortable.
It is essential that the tree of the saddle is suitable and correct for the horse and rider. Too narrow a seat on a broad backed horse may not sit securely into the back, causing the saddle to tip and rock, whilst the rider may feel perched rather than sat in the saddle.
It is imperative that the width of the saddle at the front is correct, as well as the shape of the tree in general. Too wide and the saddle will tip forward, causing considerable pressure and discomfort in the area behind the horse’s shoulders. The back of the saddle will lift and bounce, which will also cause discomfort. Too narrow a tree can tip the saddle backwards, causing pressure under the back of the saddle. Also, the saddle may well ‘run forward’ on to the neck. Part of the tree called the side rails (the bit that narrows under your leg before broadening out into the seat) must also be of a suitable angle and have a suitable width between them. Too close together and angled and the saddle will rock, too far apart and the saddle might come onto the spine.
If the saddle has a flocked panel, a good saddler can ‘fine tune’ the fit so that the saddle is in perfect balance. The flocking should be of good quality wool and be quite soft, not hard or lumpy.
The best way of avoiding a saddle that rolls to one side, rides up the neck or bridges is to use, whenever possible, the services of a Society of Master Saddlers’ Qualified Saddle Fitter. They will know, by assessing the horse and rider, the style, shape and size that will work best for horse and rider.
For more information on saddle fitting advice visit www.mastersaddlers.co.uk