How to fit a saddle

How to fit a saddle

If your blue jeans were two sizes too small, it’s likely your body would show signs of (major) discomfort, such as pinching and red marks. Now, unless they’re the last pair to your name, you’re likely not wearing those jeans again, let alone tomorrow, the next day, or for days to come.

Now, imagine how your horse might feel, if he is consistently ridden in an improperly fitted saddle.

How Does Your Saddle Fit Your Horse?

How to fit a saddle

Your horse’s comfort, happiness and your proper positioning as a rider all weighs on your saddle’s fit. An improper saddle fit causes your weight to be distributed unevenly, which can result in pressure points, rub marks, soreness, or the development of white saddle spots on your horse. Monitor your horse’s attitude and behavior while riding, which can clue you in on a painful saddle fit, but keep in mind: some horses are more stoic than others. It’s best that you take a step back and take a close look at your horse while he is saddled to determine fit.

Your saddle fits just right if it sits level on your horse’s back and the bars of the tree do not pinch. The front of your saddle should be positioned behind your horse’s shoulder blade, allowing him freedom of movement.

Your saddle is too narrow if the front of the saddle sits high. When the saddle is sitting directly upon the horse’s withers, pinching can often occur.

Your saddle is too wide if the front of the saddle is low. This also results in pinching but at the top of the saddle’s bars. In this scenario, the gullet of the saddle may be too low and rest on your horse’s withers causing pain and discomfort.

Learn more about the saddle that is pictured on the right, crafted by internationally renowned trainer and clinician, Julie Goodnight, and tune into this video below as she shares insights on saddle fitting.

Continue reading for additional guidance to help ensure you and your horse enjoys the most comfortable and secure ride possible.

What to Consider When Selecting a Saddle Pad

Selecting a saddle pad is an important decision that should not be based on look and color patterns alone. Some saddle pads, such as the SMX Cowboy Deluxe Pad, are uniquely designed and contoured to fit your horse’s back immediately, relieve wither pressure and wick away sweat and moisture.

Be sure to avoid over-padding your horse, a common practice that can result in your saddle rolling and sliding more easily. Choose a saddle pad that offers your horse the support he needs. Shop saddle pads and blankets

How to Measure For a Cinch

For your saddle’s fit and proper positioning on your horse, it is important that your horse’s cinch fit well, too. In the video above, Professional’s Choice representative and professional rodeo cowboy, Brodie Poppino, shares how to properly measure and fit a cinch to your saddle. Keep in mind, though: non-nylon cinches could stretch up to a full size, so based on your preference, consider the material before ordering a cinch for your horse.

What to Consider When Choosing a Cinch

When choosing a cinch for your horse and saddle, keep in mind there are two different types of cinches: Western cinches and roper cinches. A roper cinch is wide and contoured, so when they are cinched up and stop quickly, the weight is distributed more evenly over a wider area of the horse, reducing uncomfortable pressure on the horse’s abdomen. When tightening your horse’s cinch for an everyday ride, consider how tightly you wear your belt, and offer your horse the same level of comfort. Overtightening a cinch can add pressure and discomfort for your horse before you even step into the stirrups.

Remember that the longevity of your saddle and tack all depends on how well it is cared for over the years. Cleaning and oiling your tack regularly helps to prevent cracking and protect the leather. Oiling your saddle also aids in a safer ride, as dry, cracked leather can result in breakage, which can potentially lead to a mishap and rider injury. For safety, closely observe your tack and the quality of your leather pieces. Are they oiled and secure, without any sign of dry rot or cracking? If so, happy trails. If not, for the safety of your ride, it is time for repair or replacement.

As a horse owner, you have a responsibility to ensure your horse is comfortable and capable of performing the job you are asking of him/her.

Many horse owners do not know how to check their saddles, and are not able to recognise key signs that a saddle does not fit.

This article is designed to highlight to horse owners to check your saddles regularly, so that if you spot something that could be causing pain/discomfort you can react quickly by contacting your local qualified saddle fitter and have them out to assess the saddle.

To learn more about Saddle Fitting and how to recognise the signs of a poor fitting saddle please click HERE

7 simple checks to carry out on your saddle

Check the width o f the saddle – the points of the tree against the horses back shape

Firstly check if the width of your saddle is suitable.
To do this you need to look for the points of the tree.
Stand next to your horse, with your left shoulder to the horses left shoulder (facing its bum).
Look at the angle of the point of the saddle, and look at the angle of the horses shoulder.
You should be able to see if the point is following the shape of the horse, or if it is sticking inwards (too narrow), or if it is sticking outwards (too wide).
You should be looking at the angle of the POINT, not the panel.

Check balance of the saddle

Secondly check to see if the saddle is balanced.
When placing it on the horses back you should be able to see if the pommel and cantle are sitting level.
(NOTE: Some saddles do have high cantles, but you should be looking to see if the saddle is level)
Some saddles will sit with the pommel too high, which will push the riders weight too far back in the saddle, which could cause muscle atrophy under the panels.
Some saddles sit too low at the front, which will drop down over the withers and cause discomfort in a very sensitive area.

To check the balance, put one hand on the pommel and one hand on the cantle and gentle put weight on alternating ends.
A balanced saddle should not show much movement. If a saddle is unbalanced you will see the cantle lift quite a lot when putting pressure on the front.

Check wither clearance

The next check is something most riders are aware of; ensuring sufficient clearance between the pommel and the withers.
Ideally 4 fingers should provide sufficient clearance here, but please ensure the saddle is still clearing the withers once the saddle is girthed up and the riders weight is on board.
Often a poor fitting saddle will drop down over the withers with a rider on.

Check clearance at sides of the wither

A crucial step which is often not thought of by horse owners, is sufficient clearance either side of the withers.
This area is particularly sensitive so ensuring there is enough space either side is vital to your horses comfort and performance.

Check sufficient space either side of spine at rear of the channel

The gullet channel of your saddle should not sit on or closely either side of the spine.
Ensure there is sufficient space all the way down the gullet channel on your horses back.

Check front of panel for blockages

When checking the fit of your saddle run your hand down the front of the panel and check for blockages.
You can do this palm up or down – whichever works best for you.

Check for bridging/lightness under the saddle panels

Now check for bridging.

Bridging is where the saddle does not make contact consistently along the panel.
There is a gap in the centre, meaning it touches the horse and the front of the panel, and at the back, but not in the middle; essentially creating a bridge.
This will cause uneven pressure points and extreme discomfort for the horse.
Palm down (or up) whichever works best for you, run your hand underneath the panels, whilst placing light pressure on the saddle.
You should not be able to feel any gaps, or holes, but a smooth, even contact.

Once you have checked these steps, r epeat on the other side.

Watch the video here:

How often should you check your saddle fit?

When you tack up on a daily basis you may notice some signs of your saddle not fitting.
But take the time each month to go through the 8 steps above to ensure your horses comfort.
As soon as you notice something is not right, call your local qualified saddle fitter and get their professional advice.

What else on your saddle should you check?

You should also check the panels of your saddle for lumps, gaps, uneven flocking.
To do this, place the saddle down, and run your hands along the panels.
Saddles should be completely stripped and reflocked every 2 years, and following a reflock (or if its a new saddle), the flocking will settle after around 20 hours of use. Therefore you may need some additional flocking added.

You should also check the straps to ensure they are in good condition, with no splits, and that the stitching on the straps is all in tact and secure.

Finally, check the stitching on your saddle flaps to make sure there are no loose stitches.

Should you find any issues with any of the above call your local qualified saddle fitter immediately so they can carry out the necessary repairs.

Learn more about how saddles should fit….

If you are a horse owner or rider and would like to learn more about saddle fitting, and how the saddle can impact your horses performance and welfare, click on the link below:

Thank you!

Thank you for reading this article! We hope you found it useful!
Please do check out our YouTube channel and subscribe for loads of videos, tips and tricks!

We would also love you to join our community of horse lovers on Instagram and Facebook!

Your horse
Level ground
Camera
Saddle (your current saddle or a trial saddle from EQUESTRIAN IMPORTS, INC)
Chalk in a color that contrasts with the color of your horse
Flexible curve at least 16” in length (This is an architect’s flexible ruler. You can purchase one from an office supply or craft store or from the Accessories page of this website.)
8.5” x 14” piece of paper
Felt tip pen
Ruler

FOLLOW THESE 8 STEPS:

STEP 1
Stand your horse straight and square without a saddle with his LEFT side facing you on level ground against a solid background of a contrasting color as shown in the picture below. Step straight back from the middle of the horse’s LEFT side just far enough that you can see the whole horse in your camera’s viewfinder. Make sure that you are parallel to the horse and take the first photo. Then put on the saddle without a pad and girth it up as if you were going to ride. Again step straight back, make sure you are parallel to the horse and that you can see the whole horse, and take the second photo. After you take the second photograph, remove the saddle and proceed to Step 2.

How to fit a saddle

STEP 2
Still facing the LEFT side of the horse, locate the horse’s shoulder blade (scapula). With chalk, mark the back edge of the scapula. Then place the flexible curve on your horse’s withers behind the chalk mark as shown in the picture below. Be sure that the flexible curve is behind the shoulder muscle because you are trying to simulate where the saddle tree would sit on your horse’s back in order to allow for complete range of motion of the shoulder.

How to fit a saddle

STEP 3
With the flexible curve lying directly on your horse’s withers, carefully mold it to follow the contour of the withers. Make sure the flexible curve does not pop up when you let go of it or this will yield inaccurate results.

How to fit a saddleSTEP 4
Gently remove the flexible curve from your horse’s back, center it horizontally on an 8.5” x 14” piece of paper, and trace the inside of the curve.

How to fit a saddle

STEP 5
Label the wither tracing with the following details:

  • Rider’s Name
  • Horse’s Name
  • Breed of Horse
  • Age of Horse
  • Riding Discipline
  • Level of Training
  • Rider’s Height
  • Rider’s Weight
  • Daytime Phone Number
  • E-Mail Address

How to fit a saddle

STEP 6
Make a mark at the top of the curve (Point A). With your ruler starting at the mark at Point A, measure down each side of the curve and make a mark precisely at 14.5cm (Point B and Point C) and then at 17.5cm (Point D and Point E). Now draw a horizontal line to connect Point B to Point C and another line to connect Point D to Point E. Measure each horizontal line as accurately as possible and write the measurement above the line.

How to fit a saddle

STEP 7
If possible, scan your wither tracing, save it as a pdf file, and e-mail it as an attachment with your photographs to [email protected] .

If you cannot e-mail your wither tracing and photographs, you can mail them to:

EQUESTRIAN IMPORTS, Inc.
1601 Bern Creek Loop
Sarasota, FL 34240

IMPORTANT: If you mail your wither tracing, it must be on a single sheet of paper. We cannot evaluate tracings that require assembly.

STEP 8
There is an Online Consultation fee of $135.00 for each horse/riding discipline (for example, dressage, jumping) saddle combination. When we receive your wither tracing, photographs, and payment, we will contact you promptly to arrange a convenient time for your consultation. The consultation will include our interpretation of your photographs and wither tracing, assessment of your saddle needs, discussion of saddle options, and our recommendations for saddles to try. Click here to pay the online consultation fee.

EXAMPLES OF SADDLE FIT:

How to fit a saddle

This saddle fits the horse correctly. It sits perfectly level behind the horse’s scapula, allowing the shoulder a full range of motion, with the girth positioned a hand’s width from the elbow.

How to fit a saddle

This saddle is too narrow for the horse. It is sitting too high in the pommel (front) and too low in the cantle (rear). This improper fit results in the rider’s legs swinging out in front of the rider’s point of balance. It causes pressure points under the rear panel, affecting the weakest part of the horse’s back. “Bridging” is a common condition created by uneven distribution of weight and contact through the middle (waist) of the panel (padded area underneath the saddle that lies on the horse). There is too much pressure under the pommel and cantle and a gap where contact is interrupted through the middle. Lameness or behavioral problems in the horse may occur after repeated use of a saddle that is too narrow.

How to fit a saddle

This saddle is too wide for the horse. It is sitting too low in the pommel (front) and coming off the horse’s back at the cantle (rear). This improper fit results in the rider’s legs swinging back behind the rider’s point of balance. It creates too much pressure from the front to the middle (waist) of the saddle. A “rocking” effect may result due to the uneven distribution of contact front to rear. Your horse will most likely become intolerant of the continuous shock his back will absorb from the unstable rear panels of a saddle that is too wide.

If you’re in the market for a new saddle, or a used saddle, it’s important to learn how to measure a Western saddle seat, both for your sake and your horse’s sake. The reason the saddle has to fit you correctly, is so that you can maintain correct posture, sit in balance, and sit the stop (especially if you’re participating in rodeo events).

  • How to fit a saddle

The reason the saddle has to fit the horse correctly is so that the horse doesn’t end up with a sore back, blisters and soars. So I’m going to give you some helpful tips that will help you learn how to measure a Western saddle seat before you make your purchase.

How to Measure a Western Saddle Seat for the Rider

If you have the fortune of being able to sit in a saddle while saddle shopping, it’s to your advantage. If you’re not, you can still benefit from the tips I’m about to share with you.

Here’s how to measure a Western saddle seat to make sure it fits you.

First, sit in the middle of the pocket with your stirrups adjusted correctly. You want to look at how much space you have between your thigh and the edge of the swells.

  • How to fit a saddle

You should be able to get two to three fingers between your swell and your thighs. But, what if your hands are bigger, or smaller? If the measurement is between one and three inches, it can be okay.

But what’s really going to dictate your seat size is the measurement from the edge of the cantle to the edge of the saddle (at the swells). In addition, you should be able to fit approximately 4 fingers between the back of your seat and the top of the cantle.

Keep in mind that another thing that dictates the seat size is the angle of the cantle. For instance, let’s say you have a 17-inch saddle. If the cantle was more upright, it might measure only 16 or 16.5 inches – even though nothing else has changed.

It’s also important to keep in mind that saddles vary in width. A slim rider with a narrow pelvis might be more comfortable in a narrow seat. And a heavier rider might feel more comfortable with a wider seat.

How to Measure a Western Saddle Seat for the Horse

The type of horse and the shape of its back will determine what type saddle seat you’ll need. But it all starts with the tree. Your saddler will help you decide what kind of tree you’ll need based on the shape of your horse’s back and its withers.

How to fit a saddle

Many horses with defined withers do well with a regular tree. If you have a horse with wide or rounded withers and a flat back, your horse needs a wide tree.

Some horses, such as draft horses, need an extra wide or draft tree. You can always use an extra pad to fill in the space if a horse has narrow withers.

Place The Saddle Tree On Your Horse’s Back

To make sure you have the correct size saddle for your horse, place the saddle or saddle tree on your horse’s back. If you can place two or three fingers in between the horse’s gullet and your horse’s withers, that means it’s a good fit.

However, if the space is larger, that means the tree is too narrow. And if you can fit only one finger (or less) in the gap, that means the tree is too wide.

How to fit a saddle

Construction of Tree Bars

The bars of the saddle are made up of the two slats that lay against the horses back on either side of his spine. Correct saddle fit for the horse means that the bars need to be at the correct angle.

How to fit a saddle

The correct angle will ensure that the bar is distributing the weight of the rider evenly over the horse’s back. There shouldn’t be any gaps when you lay the tree saddle on top of the horse’s back.

How to fit a saddle

For certain horses, like gaited horses, I would get a custom designed saddle.

How to Measure a Western Saddle for Gaited Horses

If you have a gaited horse, such as a Tennessee Walker or Fox Trotter, you might need a tree designed especially for these horses. The trees for saddles made for gaited horses have a higher gullet.

How to fit a saddle

In addition, the bars of the tree for this particular type saddle have flare in the front of the bars in order to allow free and greater movement of the horse’s shoulders, and more rock, or curvature in the bars to conform to the horse’s back.

Of course, every horse is different. What’s super important is that you buy your saddle from a reputable online dealer. Be sure the saddler has a money-back guarantee policy as well as excellent customer service. For more information on how to measure a Western saddle seat, click here.

Have you ever had difficulty finding the right saddle fit for you and your horse? Has your horse ever backed up when mounting? Click here to find out why!

Please share your experience. I’d love to hear from you.

From the July/August 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar | By Martin Keith

What is the correct formula for placing a bridge/saddle on an acoustic guitar? Marc Lucas, via email

This is a good and very timely question—I was just involved in a discussion with a few other builder/repair people about a brand-new guitar whose saddle was placed in a puzzling spot. In order for the guitar to play in tune, the luthier had to fill the saddle slot and reroute it in a different placement—pretty unexpected work for a brand-new instrument that sells for almost $2,000.

All of this serves to illustrate that saddle position is not always approached as a strict formula in the industry. A survey of several very popular makes (Martin, Gibson, Taylor, Takamine) shows differing saddle angles, split saddles, and compensated or ramped saddle tops on some guitars and straight saddle tops on others. If tuning is something that can be so easily measured, and if there’s a clear right and wrong, then how can there be so many differences in saddle position and treatment?

I’ve been asked this question before by clients and can’t always give them an easy answer. In my repair work, I prefer to consider each guitar on an individual basis—I measure the tuning accuracy with a strobe tuner, and determine string-per-string what adjustments are needed. This practical approach also gives me a convenient end-run around answering the larger question, but the question lingers nonetheless.

The simple math of fret scales suggests that the saddle should be placed exactly twice as far from the nut as the 12th fret. However, because strings are not perfectly flexible, and because that imperfection varies from string to string, the saddle needs to be moved away from that theoretical point. The strings’ stiffness causes the notes to play sharper than they should, so the saddle is moved to lengthen the scale, causing the frets to play a tiny bit flatter. When this is done precisely, the two effects cancel each other out perfectly, resulting in well-tuned notes up and down the fretboard.

The nut is also implicated here, and this is a great time to bring up the many ways this can impact intonation. A high nut (i.e., one whose slots are not cut deep enough) will force the player to bend the strings sharp just to get them in contact with the frets. This effect will be most prominent in the lower positions and is very common on new factory instruments. However, the effects of string rigidity do increase as you approach the nut, and modern luthiers have developed various systems to address those effects. Stepped or compensated nuts, first seen in the work of custom makers, are now starting to appear on mass-production instruments. Session guitarist Buzz Feiten developed a tuning system meant to sweeten the intonation of guitars, which includes a calculated change to the nut position. There are even aftermarket compensated nuts from companies such as Earvana, which allow the player to experiment with this idea in a non-destructive way on their favorite guitar. Finally, the most adventurous builders and players have jumped into the deep end by building instruments where the frets themselves are not straight, but instead zigzag across the fretboard in a slightly unsettling way.

Unfortunately, this brings us back to the same big question: Shouldn’t it be possible to measure each of these systems with an honest tuner and determine which (if any) gives a meaningful advantage over the traditional straight nut and fret? For readers who wish to engage in a well-documented technical analysis of the compensated nut, I would suggest the work of Trevor Gore and Gerard Gilet, two Australian luthiers who have done considerable research on the topic, including some fairly advanced math and physics calculations.

In my own instruments, I build-in a zero fret. This is an additional fret, located where the nut would normally be. The strings contact this fret when played open, so the guitar behaves as if it were capoed against a fret at all times. For this reason, I have not seen the advantage to pursuing any nut-end compensaion, and I’ll be honest that I have yet to get a straight answer about how nut compensation can be meaningful in any way once a capo is installed on the guitar.

However, for those that really wish to have a simple rule: Among the repair people I respect most, the consensus is that for a standard 25.5-inch scale, you should add 1/16-inch to the scale length for the first string, and 3/16-inch to
the length for the sixth string. This slope of 1/8-inch difference from strings 1 to 6 is likely to yield good results for the average setup, strings, and playing style. It will certainly get you close enough that any further adjustments can be made by carefully shaping the saddle top.

Get stories like this in your inbox

How to fit a saddle

Buzzing strings are a serious bummer and often difficult to diagnose. Download our FREE guide on identifying and fixing 10 common causes of string buzz.

It can feel counterintuitive, even frustrating, to think that something as simply measurable as tuning can cause such differences of opinion among professionals. No guitar will ever be perfectly in tune. And in fact, no fretted instrument can be: The whole idea of 12-tone equal temperament is that every note shares the same small amount of error, which hopefully makes it too small to notice. Professional piano tuners often play with this by stretching the tuning to adjust the timbre and character of the piano, giving it additional warmth or brightness in specific ranges as needed.

I know of a session bassist (one of the industry’s best and most renowned) who intentionally sets up his low E to trend a bit sharp, to help it cut through in big mixes. And, most importantly, small dips and rises in pitch from playing technique are an essential component of what gives each guitarist their own sonic personality. It is with all this in mind that I usually tell my clients to trust their ears above their calculators. Do your best to get the guitar as close as possible, check your work with a tuner, and then get back to playing.

How to fit a saddle

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

A poor fit saddle makes it uncomfortable for the rider and the horse to perform as per their best abilities. Your horse will always be sound and comfortable if the western saddle fits accurately. There will be no chance of sores and incontinence because your horse can move his body parts freely.

It does not mean you should compromise with your demands. You should know how to fit a western saddle to a rider so that you can adjust it according to your riding demands. It should offer optimal comfort even if you are going on a long ride over challenging terrain. This post will help you in learning a lot about western saddle fitting.

Rules you should follow:

  • Let’s begin with understanding general rules of western saddle fitting for the rider:
  • The size of seat refers to the rider and it has nothing to do with how that saddle fits for the horse.
  • It is important to have about 4” gap between the fork and front of your body.
  • The rider’s rump must settle on the base of the cantle. It should not put pressure against the back of the cantle.
  • It is up to you whether you like a tighter or looser fit. However, experts believe it is good for you to have a saddle with a smidgen too big than a smidgen which is quite small. Riders who use small size saddle, experience uncomfortable chafing.
  • The western saddle seat is measured between the base of the horn and the top middle portion of the cantle.

The seat size on a western saddle should be:

  • 12-13” for young riders
  • 14” for small adults
  • 15” for average adults
  • 16” for large adults
  • 14” for extra-large adults

Consider these seat sizes carefully when buying a new saddle. Assess your age and demands to pick a seat that fits perfectly to your riding demands.

How to fit a saddle

Why different seat size is chosen for different riders?

It is not the seat size alone that affects western saddle fit. Several other factors matter when it comes to western saddle fitting.

  • Seat slope:

Angles of the seat from front end to back towards the cantle and that slope can lie between flat to relatively steep.

  • Seat depth:

You can find western saddles with deep seats constructed to keep the rider stable when performing some extreme activities. Some saddles feature shallower seats to offer better movement during the ride.

  • Cantle dish:

It can be flat or some cantles feature a dish or recess on the front side which can measure 1” or more in-depth.

  • Cantle slope:

It is up to you whether you prefer a cantle straight, higher, or with a slope which can be mild or steep.

  • Fork style:

You can get slick fork saddles and also find some with wide swells. Slick fork saddle may barely feature any swell.

  • Fork angle:

Just like cantle, the fork can also be flat or with angle away from the person riding the horse

The beginners might not get why these features of a western saddle matter, but you will recognize the difference when you will spend some time riding a horse. All these features matter because a wrong selection can badly affect the way that western saddle fits for you. Therefore, when you are buying a western saddle, you should sit on the saddle to learn how it fits for you. Thus, it will be much easier to learn the saddle is a good fit or not.

Tips for choosing a good fit western saddle:

The following tips will ensure that you choose a saddle that fits perfectly:

  • Choose a lighter saddle:

You should try a lighter saddle if you have been using a 40-pound saddle. A lightweight trail saddle can be more comforting for your horse and also for the rider. It is designed particularly for trail riding. It weighs less than standard western saddles.

  • Assess the overall fit:

Check all the parts of the saddle and assess their position. Even though you are focusing on your demands, do not neglect if part of the saddle troubling your horse. It can cause a variety of problems for the horse. There should be a gap between the saddle and horse’s back otherwise it will hurt your horse. So, your goal should be choosing a saddle that not only fits for you but also for the horse.

  • Monitor the changes in your horse’s shape:

Just like any other living being, horses can also change their shape due to many reasons. They can also gain or lose weight. So, the same western saddle will not fit forever. You should monitor the changes in your horse’s shape to ensure the current saddle fits properly.

  • Do not overtight the cinch if the saddle does not fit:

Many horsemen overtighten the front cinch to fit the saddle. It only hurts the horse and that is not good for any kind of ride. Suppose the saddle is double-rigged to house the back cinch, you should use a connector strap for better safety. Replace the problematic cinch with a new one which is easy to clean and which does not rub your horse. That’s how your horse will behave properly and offer better support while performing extreme activities.

  • Assess seat fit before every trail ride:

It is great if you love to go on a trail ride. The saddle’s seat should be comfortable for you and it must fit perfectly. So, check the seat fit before you begin the ride. The seat tends to shrink during the wintertime. Carefully check the position and fitting of the seat to ensure it will not make you unstable during the ride.

These tips will make each ride comfortable and enjoyable for you and the horse. You already know what to check in order to fit the western saddle. So, follow the guides and tips to ensure the western saddle won’t cause any difficulty during the ride.

How to pick a perfect saddle pad that really fits your horse?

How to fit a saddle

There are so many saddle pad models out there.. And even as an experienced rider I am sometimes questioning myself: does this saddle pad really fit my horse?

In this post I am gonna be talking primarily about English saddles as I have more experience with them.

These are some of the most important tips:

    Saddle Pad should be large enough to cover the Saddle area to protect the back from unnecessary tension.

There should be enough space between horse`s wither and the top of the pad, so you can fit fingers of your one hand underneath the wither and thepads top.

  • Ideally you should pick the good quality 100% cotton saddle pads. Think of it like choosing the sports wear for yourself. It should be breathable, so I don`t recommend buying saddle pads that are made out of synthetic materials.

  • Saddle Pad should have enough cushion filler inside, you it can absorb hammering movements of the rider and make it more comfortable for the horse.

How to fit a saddle

When we were creating our saddle pads the first criteria to meet was comfort and quality. All our saddle pads are 100% made of high-quality breathable cotton. Each model has the high top, which makes them fit even really high-wither horses.

Please try our new seat sizing tool to find your size

Calculated Seat Size:

Please select your body shape:

Carrot shaped Tomato Shaped Pear Shaped

Do you prefer a tighter Barrel Fit?

Are you fitting for a Tucker Saddle?

Calculated Seat Size:

There is a lot of room for personal preference with seat sizing, but as a general rule it is better to error on the side of ordering a seat size that is too large rather than erring on the side of a seat that will be too small.

Things to Consider

  • Tucker adds 1/2inch to their seat sizes (due to thick seat padding)
    16.5” Tucker = 16” normally

Barrel riders usually take 1” less on the seat size
16” Trail Rider = 15” Barrel Rider

Ranch (slick seats) usually ride smaller (1/2inch seat size) so they don’t slide around
16” is for most men, 15” for most women

Trail Saddles with High Cantles (5”) make the seat sizes feel smaller
Trail Saddle with 5” cantle will feel smaller in the seat than one with a 3.5” cantle

English Saddles don’t convert exactly but often are 2” bigger
18” English = 16” Western

Riders with inseams under 30” or 5’ tall and under often need custom cut fenders
Tall riders with long legs but lighter weight may need custom cut fenders as well

How to fit a saddle

Checking the Fit

  • General Guideline is about 3 fingers between your thigh and the swell.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Exceeding expectations each and every order

Family Owned

Proudly family owned and operated since 1986

Financing Options

Pay over time with our new monthly payment options

Huge Inventory

Thousands of new and used saddles to choose from