Saddle Fit

The purpose of the saddle is to distribute the weight of the rider evenly over the muscles covering the ribs of the horse allowing maximum unhampered movement of the scapula and loins during completion of the chosen profession.

Signs of an ill-fitting saddle

  • Flinching or laying back (pinning) ears while being groomed along the back
  • Reluctance to pick up hind feet for shoeing
  • Refusing to stand while the saddle is placed or while being mounted
  • Inability to bend laterally and/or inability to travel straight
  • Wringing or carrying tail off to one side
  • Shortened, choppy or disjointed gaits, short striding, dragging toes
  • Higher than normal head carriage, head tossing
  • White hairs along the withers under the saddles indicating blood circulation being cut off due to saddle pressure
  • Sores on the back, soft blisters or hard painless lumps, hair loss under the saddle
  • Temporary swelling after removing the saddle
  • Muscle atrophy on one or both sides of the withers, behind the wither or loin
  • Front leg lameness including stumbling and tripping, hock, stifle, or obscure hind limb lameness
  • Bucking, rearing, spooking
  • Unwillingness to move forward under saddle
  • Resistance to work – lack of concentration, slow to warm up, refusing jumps, ducking out of turns, decreased speed, difficult collecting, not making transitions, avoiding hills, twisting over jumps
  • Rushing downhill or pulling up hills
  • Bites, snaps the air or grinds teeth
  • Uneven sweating pattern under saddle
  • Hollow back, will not lift the back, “cold-backed”, back sinks when mounted
  • Starts ride well, gets resistant later in ride or only on long rides
  • Rearranging the stall bedding, inability to stand still
  • Lack of bucking, rolling or movement when placed in turnout

A poor fitting saddle can affect the trapezius, latissimus dorsi and longissimus dorsi muscles. 

When the back of the horse is pain free and can work correctly, forward motion becomes effortless and supports the rider. When the horse uses his back incorrectly, he will have rough gaits, difficulty moving forward, and his hollow back will cause his neck position to be high and stiff.

If you are interested in learning if your equine’s symptoms are possibly due to saddle fit or to have a wither tracing done for an upcoming new saddle purchase, contact us today to schedule your consultation.