How can I decide if my horse’s saddle fits ME?
(First let me say that as a Groom, it’s typically not our job to know this sort of stuff. However, since many Grooms also ride, I have put together some words of "butt to saddle" wisdom for you.)
So - here we go! There are a few things that you need to consider when you are trying out saddles (in addition to making sure that the saddle fits your horse).
-Saddle length - this is the “size” of the saddle, measured in 1/2 inches. You can measure your current saddle from the nail heads on the pommel to the middle of the cantle. This will give you a starting point to trying new saddles.
-Saddle depth - how long the saddle is where you are sitting in it, and deeper actually means shorter.
-Saddle twist - this is the area where the tree transitions from the pommel to the cantle. When you are sitting in the saddle, your upper thighs will lay on either side of the twist. This is a critical area, as it can influence how comfortable you are in the saddle!
-Thigh rolls, knee blocks, etc. - these vary greatly between style of saddle (jumping, dressage) and even within particular design. While most saddles have some sort of block or roll (either fixed or adjustable), you will need to decide what is best for your own body shape.
-Stirrup bars - these influence that straight line from shoulders, hips, ankles.
-Flap length - Your saddle flaps should not get caught on the top of your boots, and should not be so long that they interfere with your leg aids. If you have multiple stirrup lengths (jumping and flat, for example), try the saddle with both stirrup settings.
-Billet straps - depending on their location, they may interfere with your leg, as you may feel the buckles.
Here are some other things to consider when trying out saddles:
-Try a zillion of them.
-Make sure you have three points of contact (seat bones and pubis).
-Try saddles in all gaits of your horse.
-Make sure the tree fits your horse.
-Don’t buy one based on how it feels on a plastic horse at the tack shop.
-Sizes can vary between manufacturers. Manufacturers may also use different trees in their own models, so don’t rule something out before trying another style or tree.
-Have a qualified pair of eyes on the ground to check your position as you try saddles.
What words of saddle fitting wisdom do you have??