• Does Your Saddle Fit YOU?

    At a show the other week, I saw a rather distressing sight. There was a lady riding the most gorgeous horse but she was having incredible trouble getting her horse to work ‘on the bit’. She spent 3 hours (yes, THREE hours in the searing heat), trotting this horse around the showground, huffing and puffing with frustration, getting very red-faced and clearly getting very cross with the horse. The horse kept tossing his head in the air, hollowing through his back and was obviously in distress, but despite this, he kept trudging away, desperately trying to please his frustrated rider but being physically unable too.

    So what was the problem? Was she a poor rider? Well, she wasn’t the best I have seen, but this wasn’t the real problem. It all boiled down to saddle fit. From a distance, I couldn’t really tell if the saddle fitted the horse well, but what was clearly obvious, was that the saddle didn’t fit the rider. She wasn’t a large lady, but her saddle was way too small for her. This was making it so she was unable to sit in the deepest part of the seat. Instead, it was pushing her towards the back of the saddle. Every time she landed from her rising trot she was almost landing on the cantle. This was having an almost reflex action on the horses back as when she landed it was putting all the weight towards the back of the saddle causing the horse to hollow through his back.

    It was such a shame. The horse was desperately trying to comply with his riders’ wishes but he was finding it physically impossible to, and you could almost see him saying ‘ouch’ every time she ‘sat’.

    You could tell by the riders grimace, and the comments she was making to her friend that she just felt the horse was being ‘naughty’. To be honest, I thought he was being a saint as many horses would have thrown the rider to floor long before having to endure 3 hours of suffering!

    As he rode past me, I also noticed a problem with her numnah. Like about 70% of people at the same show, the numnah was too small for the saddle. It didn’t come out from under the back of the panels and the end of the numnah was actually under the saddle panels. This causes a ridge of pressure under the saddle and can rub too (think creased sock in a shoe and then multiply the discomfort by about 10!). Add this to the fact that this was just about where she was landing when she sat and the poor horse was having a pretty bad day!

    Rightly so, much emphasis is put on whether a saddle fits a horse. But if the ‘fit’ of the rider isn’t taken into account as well, it can make a saddle that is well fitted to the horse, cause problems. I often hear stories from people complaining about saddle fitters. But I do wonder how often the saddle fitter fits a perfectly well fitting saddle, only for the rider to be the actual cause of the discomfort? The effect of the rider when fitting a saddle should never be underestimated.

    It is so important that a saddle fits a rider as well as the horse and there are many factors that can affect rider ‘fit’ besides seat size. This will be dealt with in a later post. But for now, I hope this has just highlighted the need for the saddle to fit the horse as well as the rider.

    1 Comment

    • 1. Feb 11 2013 4:28PM by Desirae

      Lynda: I did not see bits or spurs in your blog. I would love to answer any questions you might have or provide images for you if you are interested. You can see most of our products at http://www.tombalding.com . Because most are made custom to order we are also creating a product "creator" in which you can put together any combination you would like including finishes. We hope to have this up and running by mid March. Thank you! Desirae

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