Saddle Fitting

The essence of good saddle fitting is for the saddle to evenly spread the weight of the rider over as large an area as possible on the horse's back. It is essential that the shape of the underside of the saddle is as close as possible to the exact shape of the horse or pony's back underneath the saddle. In fact, the underside of the saddle should be a mirror image of the horse's back.

There should be no areas where poor fit or unevenness causes excess pressure and discomfort, at the least, or pain, at worst.  To minimise this pain the horse or pony will carry his or herself differently which will alter the balance of his body. This will inhibit the free forward movement of the horse or pony and will almost certainly lead to other physical and emotional problems. Inevitably, if they are in pain, the horse or pony will not be as happy or as relaxed as they could be, they will not look forward to work, or anything that happens in the process of being ridden, like being caught or tacked up or mounted. Every aspect of your horse's or pony's wellbeing can be severely threatened by an ill fitting saddle and every aspect of your enjoyment of riding them can be blighted.

Even though most horses tell you they are in pain through their behaviour there are some horses and ponies who will bear the pain like stoics and behave beautifully despite their discomfort. So, whether your horse behaves well or badly, it is essential to check the fit of the saddle.


A.  A badly fitted saddle.

The perfect fit saddle fitting kit will show you how to avoid this discomfort or pain by:

Checking the fit of the saddle in 3 places

The wither area, the back area  (parallel to and 3 inches beneath the spine) and the  cantle area


In the diagrams above you will see that the green saddles are the same shape as the back of the horse in this area and that the red saddles are not the same shape. Because of this they will place areas of pressure on the horse's back. These areas of pressure are shown in yellow.

B. An unlevel saddle. If the saddle is tipped up at the front or at the back it will throw the rider's weight in that direction. The saddle will no longer be able to spread the weight of the rider as all the weight will be felt either at the front or the back of the saddle.


C. The rider's inbalance.  If the rider is out of balance their weight will not be spread evenly across the saddle.  If the rider leans forwards or backwards or to one side, the horse will feel their pressure of their weight in one area and this may be uncomfortable.



D.  The position of the saddle on the horse's back.


Too far forward and it will interfere with the action of the shoulder. Too far back and it will lie on the loin, an area of the horse that is not designed for weight bearing and where weight will cause pain

E. Uneven or hard surface on the saddle's underside.


The surface of the underside of the saddle should be neither too hard nor too soft.  You should run your finger all over the surface to check for uneven pressure, lumpiness or sharp areas.

F. Insufficient surface area of saddle in contact with the horse.


The smaller the surface area of the underside of the saddle, the greater the pressure per square inch.

G. Narrow gullet.

narrow-gullet.jpg wide-gullet-150x150.jpg

H. Damaged tree. A twisted tree will not sit properly on the horse's back and will cause uneven presssure. A broken tree will not spread the weight of the rider evenly. Most likely it will put the weight on a small area.

Any of these could cause your horse to be a problem horse.The perfect fit saddle fitting kit will show you how to avoid this discomfort or pain by checking each of them.


1.The comfort of the saddle will affect your horse's ability to perform properly and is often the main cause of tension and bad behaviour. It is one of the most important factors in a horse's wellbeing.

2. An inexpensive saddle that fits well is much better than an expensive one that doesn't.

3. The whole of the underside of the saddle should fit the horse, not just the wither area. It should be a mirror image of the shape of the horse's back, this is why we measure in 3 areas.

4. Never, ever guess the fit of the saddle – always measure it.

5. Use the kit to check if your horse or your saddle has changed shape at least every month or more often if there has been a change of diet or exercise or if the saddle is new or recently stuffed. If either have changed the saddle may no longer fit.

6. Some horses are stoics, they don't let you know that they are in pain and don't show any of the signs of their saddle not fitting. Check your saddle's fit anyway – just in case.

Top competitors have always known about the importance of well fitting saddles. It's that kind of attention to detail that helps them win.


SADDLE FITTERS.  Most saddle fitters are wonderful people. Well trained and more interested in their equine clients being comfortable than the size of their bank balance.   Now with The Perfect Fit Saddle Fitting Kit, because you can understand the basics of saddle fitting, you can work with your saddle fitter to make sure you get the best result possible.

Also, very few saddle fitters leave you with any means to check the fit of the saddle after you leave. They leave it up to you to guess when the saddle isn't fitting well.  This can happen quite quickly, either because the saddle needs re-stuffing or because the horse has changed shape. When you've measured your horse with The Perfect Fit Saddle Fitting Kit it gives you the tools do perform both of these tasks easily and within minutes. This means that your horse won't be uncomfortable for a moment longer than he or she needs to be because you can sort the problem yourself or get your saddle fitter out as soon as there is a change.