Missouri 5 year old walker/saddlebred ridden in mullen mouth eggbutt snaffleand  western saddle by beginner.

Question:  I am having trouble getting a saddle to fit my horse. How do I measure for correct fit ?

From Panelsit Liz

This is not an easy topic.  The best way to fit your horse with a saddle is to have a "bare tree" fitting done, by someone who is a pro at it, with a number of trees to try out.  You can also take tracings (using wire that bends to shape) over the withers, behind the withers and over the back under the seat area and toward the cantle ... then send those to a saddle
maker and hope he can come up with something that fits your horse.

The short, and not very accurate, way to tell if the saddle approximates a fit is to see that it leaves at least two fingers of room at the gullet between withers and saddle, when you are sitting in it. Check that the bars fit down over each side of the back below the withers, not perching up above it, and that the back of the saddle sits down on the horse's back, not
above it, when the girth is tightened. Then ride in the saddle long enough to get the horse's back sweaty, and check to see that there are even sweat marks on both side of the back, no dry spots (other than the channel down the backbone and over the top of the withers).

Good luck finding a saddle that works for your horse.

Lee Ziegler

From Panelist Stella

You really are better off either dealing with tack stores/companies that allow you to try the saddle and return if not fitting, or, trailer your horse with you(making sure he's very clean,bring a clean girth and pad) to a large tack store with a BIG selection, and try them out right in the parking lot!(works for me!)If you're not sure what a good fit is, then take someone with you who really does, even if you have to pay a pro...remember that the 
salespeople in the store do want to sell you a saddle, so that MAY make them somewhat biased! DON'T "make-do" with a saddle that "somewhat fits," but have to pad specially to get it 'almost right'....over time, "almost" is not good enough for the future well-being and soundness of your horse.

I think this is really the best way for the hard-to-fit horse. In the "old days," saddles were custom-made for each horse, but due to mass production now, they're made for the "average" horse, and in western, that would mean QHs, Arabs, etc. whose "average" backs are different from TWH and Saddlebreds...you may more easily find an australian or plantation that fits than western. Some of the westerns for Arabs may fit better than those made for QHs, so dont overlook those; they wont be as broad and some accommodate a bit more wither.

You still can get a custom made saddle,   if you're willing to spend the money. In this case, there is material now available to make a plaster "cast" of your horse's back to send to a reputable maker...but be sure to get references from such makers, and do check with people that have used their services.



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