Saddle Fitting - What am I missing?

TPO

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Having never been a professional rider I cant say for sure but the general consensus when that point is brought up that:
1) most established pros like a certain type of horse therefore most of them are similar shapes for saddle fitting
2) horse has the saddle on approx 1hr a day but pro will ride for 6hrs+ so some make their comfort a priority

Fitting wider and padding does seem to be the best way to address having numerous horses and using the same saddle.
 

Roxylola

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As for one size fits all, I guess if you're mostly riding sports horses or a particular type youd get away with it, especially if you've got some thick saddle pads under it.
For me, my basics are - is front and back level? Does it sit "right" as in nicely in the right place
Does it move?
Does this change when girthed up?
Does it change when moving/ridden.
Can I see daylight thru it without a pad?
Can I get fingers under the panels at the front or is it pinching.
Does it sit flush along the back or is it curved off the horse (for no good reason)
 

Tarragon

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I had a saddle made for my pony. The fitter arrived with about a dozen bare trees of different widths, lengths and styles to try. Even though she had only brought ones she thought would fit a 13 hh native pony, so you would expect the majority to be a fair fit, it was eye-opening to see how many just really didn't fit with his shape, and as it was just the tree, you could really see how the ones where the tree was two narrow perched, and the ones that were too wide just looked wrong, or stuck out or in on the wrong place. It was also very clear when the profile didn't match.
I had a beautiful saddle made which was lovely for a couple of years - and then he changed shape!
 

Goldenstar

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I have found a great fitter she and I work well together and she has me taught loads and given me lots of confidence .

One thing I have come to realise the nicer better conformed horse you buy the less issues you have .

Listen to the horse if he’s happy you are most of the way there

The saddle should always sit level on the horse and on some horses you might have
to use a rear raised to achieve this .

Never ignore changes in fit get straight onto it . I use nummed numahs and 5 mm shims , 5mm can transform how a saddle fits and carry you through till the fitter can adjust the flocking .

Saddle niggles are often the first indication the horse is carrying a lameness .

Horses that shift saddles to the side are more often than not telling you they have a hock issue

I used to fond of having a saddle a tad wide and using a thick pad I have got bolder about having them narrower over the years it has to be said this has coincided with me having the budget to buy new saddles when ever I choose .

You need a saddler that can fit for the horse and the rider some are good at one and not the other .
 

LegOn

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The best saddle fitter I had (sorry in Ireland so no use to on recommendations) showed me how to fit my horse & issues to look out for as he grows and why certain saddles or trees wont suit him.

She showed me how a good fitting saddle felt with my hand & what to look out for in terms of uneven weight or the saddle not in contact on the back. And then when we tried saddles she was very conscious of how happy and forward the horse was - again even if something fit really well, if they dont move well in it, to be in tune with that & not just go based on the fact that 'it should fit him'.

But I think some of the best fitters are ones that admit its not a science and more like a dark art - something that just goes on feel & personal judgement!
 

LiquidMetal

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If you’re on Facebook, check out saddlefitting.us She is a rep for Stubben but that’s just her general page. She has lots of good diagrams on why certain tree shapes work for certain horses and other good info. I have learned a lot from her page and it helped me figure out why I was having so much trouble finding a saddle to fit my new TB.

I’ve used 2 people who were with Society of Master Saddlers and my overall impression is kind of, meh. I would use either again as there are very limited options where I am but I definitely have more confidence now to ask better questions.
 

Skib

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heres a lot more to western saddle fitting than that. If anything it's even more complicated than english due to the different rock, flare and angle on western trees despite all being, for example, FQH size. Unfortunately the fitting of western saddles seems to regularly fall into the "one size fits all" category.

Western saddles shouldn't slip and/or need rebalanced any more than a well fitting English should.
A friend bought an American western saddle for her horse so I know that is true.

None the less, it was a cultural, historical difference. USA Cow hands owned their own saddle. I am not sure that was so here in UK. But in an earlier period in Tudor times it may have been true. I tuned in to a lock down seminar on saddle hisotry and it did sound as if the saddle was designed to suit the activity of the rider - not to fit one particular horse.
 

TPO

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A friend bought an American western saddle for her horse so I know that is true.

None the less, it was a cultural, historical difference. USA Cow hands owned their own saddle. I am not sure that was so here in UK. But in an earlier period in Tudor times it may have been true. I tuned in to a lock down seminar on saddle hisotry and it did sound as if the saddle was designed to suit the activity of the rider - not to fit one particular horse.
Yes that's true, working as a cowboy or ranch hand you'd generally have your own saddle.

However it would be the case that they would mainly be riding QHs of similar type ie. Ranch bred and tbh horse comfort wasnt always a priority for working horses as they would have a herd to pick fresh horses from.

Anyway, I doubt AE will be tempted to purchase a western saddle so all good
 

Pippity

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A friend bought an American western saddle for her horse so I know that is true.

None the less, it was a cultural, historical difference. USA Cow hands owned their own saddle. I am not sure that was so here in UK. But in an earlier period in Tudor times it may have been true. I tuned in to a lock down seminar on saddle hisotry and it did sound as if the saddle was designed to suit the activity of the rider - not to fit one particular horse.
Most western cavalries used some variety of universal pattern saddle, which was essentially a seat attached to two rails. It was up to the rider to figure out the correct arrangement of blankets and padding to make it fit their particular horses. It no doubt worked fairly well when all the horses were roughly the same size and shape, but must have been horribly uncomfortable once they were actually on campaign and were replacing their killed horses with whatever they could find.
 

Lady Jane

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I personally think the modern saddles are harder to get right. I have a 25 yr old Lovett & Ricketts that I have had on several horses (with Master Saddler approval and flocking tweaks) and they all go well. I think older saddles are less 'rigid'. I got a new saddle (fitted etc) which was fine but my horse is now telling me he doesn't like it but does like the 'old' saddle. Its not a great time to get the new saddle refitted so as long as horse is happy I'll ride in the old one. They are both dressage and I bought a new one as the old one has pretty well no knee roll which made feel vulnerable on a young horses. I'm almost thinking you make your own judgement, gey someone who is sufficiently knowledgeable to watch you ride in it and if the horse is happy that's fine. Obviously need clearance, no rocking, slipping and basic shape must all be good for that horse (no unwanted gaps to cause the wrong pressure somewhere else) . Its a minefield.....
 

HorsesRule2009

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This is another thing that confuses me. I know 2 pros who use the same saddle on everything. They have a saddle they love and use it on a variety. Including the horses sent to them for schooling. I guess if they had a very odd shaped or very large/small horse they may need to find a different saddle but their 1 saddle is used on quite a few. If saddle fit it so tricky how can 1 size fit so many just with the odd adjustment in pads etc?
I've known alot of people who do this (rightly/wrongly) and all the horses seem happy/willing and appear to go/preform well.

Personally for myself (we have about 3or4 exercise saddles and generally 3 riders) I choose what I feel most comfortable in and ride best in as think this is just as beneficial to the horse as I sit better in it and can therefore ride better/more efficiently.
Also as another poster pointed out we are normally only on them for upto an hour.
They also get alternated between being ridden and being lead.
 

milliepops

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Having never been a professional rider I cant say for sure but the general consensus when that point is brought up that:
1) most established pros like a certain type of horse therefore most of them are similar shapes for saddle fitting
2) horse has the saddle on approx 1hr a day but pro will ride for 6hrs+ so some make their comfort a priority

Fitting wider and padding does seem to be the best way to address having numerous horses and using the same saddle.
I think this is probably right.

I have ridden 3 of mine in the same saddle (slightly adjusted with a pad or not) and although they all look like very different horses their basic profile is pretty similar, fairly round rib cage, well defined withers and a normal sort of curve to the back. (they all wear the same rugs too :p)
 

soloequestrian

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Saddles designed to be fitted wider and padding used: https://www.balanceinternational.com/functional-saddling (the principles apply to any saddle, not just the ones that Balance sell).
It seems to me that saddle fitters are seen as having some sort of magic skill when actually most of the time it's just common sense and listening to the horse. And having a saddle that is well designed (especially in terms of horse comfort).
 

Flame_

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I have no idea how to evaluate whether the fitter is any good or not from what they say either. They don't seem to be looking at anything different to what I am looking at - length, width, balance, spine clearance, how it feels to ride in and how horse reacts to it. But clearly there is far more to it than that or anyone could assess whether a saddle fits.
The only thing more to it is their abilty to assess your self doubt and how they are able to blag you into purchasing something you don't need.

Lunge in it - see if it lifts or moves. Otherwise if it looks right to you and horse says it's OK, it's OK.
 

SatansLittleHelper

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I love the saddle fitter that comes to us. Never tries to sell you something you don't need and never heard a bad word said about her....other than she can be hard to get hold of..!!!
I have a good basic knowledge of how saddles should fit but I like it backed up. Everything I ride is in some form of Thorowgood T4 which I love.
 

Tihama

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I personally think the modern saddles are harder to get right. I have a 25 yr old Lovett & Ricketts that I have had on several horses (with Master Saddler approval and flocking tweaks) and they all go well. I think older saddles are less 'rigid'. I got a new saddle (fitted etc) which was fine but my horse is now telling me he doesn't like it but does like the 'old' saddle. Its not a great time to get the new saddle refitted so as long as horse is happy I'll ride in the old one. They are both dressage and I bought a new one as the old one has pretty well no knee roll which made feel vulnerable on a young horses. I'm almost thinking you make your own judgement, gey someone who is sufficiently knowledgeable to watch you ride in it and if the horse is happy that's fine. Obviously need clearance, no rocking, slipping and basic shape must all be good for that horse (no unwanted gaps to cause the wrong pressure somewhere else) . Its a minefield.....
Agreed I have an old Pennwood GP and and old Jeffries Falcon Event which are both in great condition extremely comfy and have suited a variety of horses including my mare who is very quick to say when she isn't happy about something 😆
 

Spottyappy

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Im older than likely many of you.
we always used to use one saddle and pad it Out for different horses. We rarely had any issues.
However, What I have noticed is that Many modern saddles have changed shape, especially the panels. They are smaller and flatter/wider On older saddles. Many modern ones seem high and narrow.
im not convinced the shape of horses has changed in this way, and that just may explain some of the issues we now see.
 

dogatemysalad

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Currently having a third saddle fitter out to my horse and not feeling confident that this one will be any better. I'm tempted to box up and drive a 5 hour round trip to my former saddler in another part of the country.
 

Cortez

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I am a semi-retired pro rider, I used to ride up to 8 horses a day in one or other of two saddles. I have never had a horse with a sore back. I have also never used a saddler (Master or otherwise) for anything other than a reflock, in consultation with me not under direction by them :)

Saddle fit is not rocket science, despite all the guff I overhear being directed at novice owners, anxious to "get it right" - and of course you must make sure the saddle fits. Being able to tell that your saddle fits is just another one of the skills that seem to be beyond horse owners now, like feeding, lunging, leading, loading; absolutely basic stuff.

Many of the so-called expert, qualified "Master" saddlers have received a short course and watched some videos.
 

HorsesRule2009

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Many of the so-called expert, qualified "Master" saddlers have received a short course and watched some videos.
This is so true. I know to be come a qualified saddle fitter with the saddle company at one point was only a day course.
Which for some people was OK but most struggled as soon as they didn't have a 'textbook' horse and rider to fit as couldn't adjust the saddle - both the tree and flocking) - to improve the situation as didn't have the experience, a few at home went this training route and very quickly ran into trouble and no longer fit saddles
 

siennamum

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I have had 6 saddlers & spent about 5k trying to get a saddle which fits R and which I can jump in and have now given up. He is in the saddle I started with which is an ancient Ideal. which has fitted my last 3 horses, but which I cant jump him in. I conclude I must do the saddle fitting course myself, and only buy very normal shaped horses in future.
 

dogatemysalad

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I am a semi-retired pro rider, I used to ride up to 8 horses a day in one or other of two saddles. I have never had a horse with a sore back. I have also never used a saddler (Master or otherwise) for anything other than a reflock, in consultation with me not under direction by them :)

Saddle fit is not rocket science, despite all the guff I overhear being directed at novice owners, anxious to "get it right" - and of course you must make sure the saddle fits. Being able to tell that your saddle fits is just another one of the skills that seem to be beyond horse owners now, like feeding, lunging, leading, loading; absolutely basic stuff.

Many of the so-called expert, qualified "Master" saddlers have received a short course and watched some videos.
Agree with you. I'm not a professional rider, but I'm currently kicking myself for not listening to myself when I doubted the last two master Saddlers advice. Horse never complained, but the sore back told a different story.
 

cobgoblin

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The only advantage of a saddle fitter seems to be access to a large and varied selection to try. Unfortunately this is often outweighed by the strange compulsion that one of the saddles in their van must fit.
I'm well on the way to having my own large and varied selection.
 

HorsesRule2009

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The only advantage of a saddle fitter seems to be access to a large and varied selection to try. Unfortunately this is often outweighed by the strange compulsion that one of the saddles in their van must fit.
I'm well on the way to having my own large and varied selection.
This I find a big advantage with a saddle fitter, plus the ones I've used have allowed me a trial period and my last two horses have been great at letting me know with if they like a new saddle
 

DreamTime22

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Agreed I have an old Pennwood GP and and old Jeffries Falcon Event which are both in great condition extremely comfy and have suited a variety of horses including my mare who is very quick to say when she isn't happy about something 😆
I have a Jeffries Falcon, I think it is also an event and I love it. It seems to fit both my horses the best out of all our saddles
 
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