How can I tell if my saddle needs to be reflocked or adjusted?
Most saddles can be adjusted to some degree - it’s up to us to determine that our horse’s saddle is a bit wonky, and then we need to do something about it! For years I have worked with an amazing saddle fitter, Tonya Jones, so I twisted her arm (not really) into sharing some tips for saddle fit and care.
Specifically, I wanted to know how to tell if your saddle needs to be reflocked!
Regularly inspect the underside of your horse's saddle for dents, divots, weird things, shifting padding.
You need to have your saddle worked on by a Saddle Fitter if:
-The saddle is slipping to one side or the other
-The saddle is sliding forward or backward
I’ll also add that some horses have a tendency to act out, not perform well, or otherwise seem “off” if the saddle is wonky. Just for fun, Tonya suggests that every couple of months you check a few things on your saddle yourself. Place your saddle on your horse without a pad and without a girth. Make sure you can put 2-3 fingers between your horse’s withers and the pommel of the saddle. If you can’t, it’s time to call your saddle fitter.
You should also consider that a saddle on a young horse, and a horse coming back from a long lay up, should be looked at every 6 months. For older, more seasoned or "going" horse, once a year is may be good for a visit from the saddle fitter. Always listen to your horse!
Your saddle, deconstructed.
-How can you tell if your saddle's tree doesn't fit your horse? What are your options then?
This is really a question for your saddle fitter. Part of a saddle fitter’s bank of knowledge is knowing the shape and size of the tree in the saddle. Some companies use many different trees in varying shapes. Other saddle makers use only two or three tree shapes and then vary the panel, flap and knee roll designs.
Depending on the make of the saddle, you do have options when it comes to the tree. Your saddle fitter may be able to adjust the tree if the shape is correct but the size is not. Additionally, it’s may be possible that flocking can be added or taken out to accommodate the shape difference. Your saddle fitter will need to see your horse to decide the best course of action.
About Tonya! Tonya worked for Custom Saddlery for 10 years after starting in the garage of Cary and Lisa Wallace. When Custom opened a tack store/work shop in San Marcos, CA. Cary and Tonya worked side by side on the bench for many years. Tonya honed her fitting, adjustment and tack repair skills there. Today, Tonya is an independent fitter, fitting and making adjustments to most major brand saddles. She can help you decide if a saddle is a good choice for you and your horse!