Saddle, similar to shoo-in humans really has to fit so that nothing pinches or rubs. And only if the saddle really fits can the horse achieve its maximum performance.
Similar to a person who gets corns, blisters, and crooked toes in inappropriate shoes, a horse also suffers from a poorly fitting saddle. The result is saddle pressure, open areas of the belt, and compulsory saddle.
However, some of the consequences are not so directly visible, such as changes to the shoulder blade, which lead to inflammation and pressure pain, and back tension, which are intended to protect sensitive areas.
The back of a horse is a delicate structure that changes again and again. If the horse grows, increases or decreases, it changes its muscles because it is trained differently or it gets older and the ligaments of the spine become softer. No matter what the cause, the result is a saddle that no longer fits.
In the tip, you will read a summary of the factors that you need to consider when trying on a saddle pad. You should use these tips to judge whether a new saddle really fits. However, you should also critically check your saddle at least twice a year and, if something does not fit, consult a saddler.
Sufficient freedom from withers
At the withers, the bones and ligaments of the spine are only covered by a thin layer of skin. This is why this area of the horse’s back is particularly sensitive, which is why a saddle must neither lie on it nor rub.
Pressure points and open chafing marks from the saddle are very uncomfortable for the horse and can make it unrideable in the long run. It is therefore important to avoid injuries that are very painful for the horse. How often something goes wrong here is shown by the white hair that many horses have withheld after a saddle print on the withers.
The right shape
Since the chest has a significantly different shape depending on the horse type, there can be big differences here. Thoroughbreds have a pear-shaped chest, while some pony breeds have an almost round chest. Most horses are somewhere between these extremes.
The width and angulation of the top iron can often be adjusted by the saddler with high-quality saddles, the angulation of the saddle tree can usually hardly be changed.
Enough space for the withers
There should also be space for two to three fingers on either side of the withers.
Also, make sure that the withers have enough space over their entire length. Look from the front into the gap between the withers and the saddle. The underside of the saddle should not rest on the spine at any point but should allow at least two fingers’ width of air everywhere.
The right chamber size
The chamber width determines how wide a saddle is. The saddle must be so narrow that it is stable and so wide that the withers have enough space. However, the chamber width must also leave enough space for the movement of the shoulder blades, otherwise, the horse will bump against the saddle with every step.