Below are some key points you can look out for to see if your saddle fits your horses profile well
It is so important that the correct profile is selected by your saddle fitter to ensure the highest comfort and performance is achieved from both you and your horse.
Saddle fitting is a highly trained profession and as such Saddle Fitters should be considered as part of your team of Equine Para-professionals.
Next to your horse, a saddle purchase is probably the most expensive equine purchase you may make so it is importance that you seek the advice of a professional to guide you through this process.
This is not a guide on how to saddle fit, but what to expect from a professional saddle fit along with suggestions to check that your own saddle is good and what to look for so you know when to call a saddle fitter.
Why use a fitter?
As the popularity and interest in saddle fitting is growing and we are learning so much more, this only goes to show how using a professional can be of great benefit to the comfort of your horse and also you as a rider. Saddle fitters should not be there to simply sell you a new saddle. Saddle fitters and ‘reps’ are two very different entities. Saddle fitters are there to provide expertise and advice in the same way you would expect to receive it from your vet, physio, farrier or trainer and will often welcome the opportunity to work in conjunction with them to help resolve problems and issues for the greater good. A slipping saddle for example could be anything from ‘a saddle issue’ to a horse with muscle atrophy, lameness, rider stiffness or even imbalanced hoof issues. Your experts are best when working together as a team. A saddle fitter will not give a veterinary opinion but may suggest to consult your vet in the same way that you wouldn’t expect your trainer to give you saddle fitting expertise, unless of course they are qualified in both!
What to expect from a saddle fitting
It is normal when booking an appointment to be asked information about you and your horse, to select the most appropriate saddles for trial.
You should expect a saddle fitter to have a selection of saddles often from different brands to trial and actually watch you ride in.
You should expect to pay for the assessment/fitting – professionals charge for their work.
Your saddle fitter will assess your horse for general conformation and profile type and any influencing factors for example soreness or lumps that may affect saddle fit.
Please be aware that your saddle fitter may decide that the degree of tenderness exhibited by your horse necessitates a delaying in fitting. They may suggest ground work or seeking veterinary advice until improvement is shown.
Yes, they will need to see you ride in the saddle, static fit is only a small element in the process. Horses can move entirely differently under saddle and saddles can feel very different to a rider on different horses, so this part of the assessment is essential in choosing the right saddle to fit. Therefore be prepared to ride, sounds obvious maybe, but hat, bridle, girth and a suitable arena or surface to do so.
If you are buying a jumping saddle don’t be surprised if you are asked to jump in it!
They will template your horse or take tracings usually after riding, these are records that will be kept to refer back to when needed in the future. If we are asked to make a custom saddle these are essential for us in selecting the correct tree and discussing the panel build with them.
It may be they have a correct saddle with them on the day you wish to purchase. However if a custom saddle is to be made they will discuss any changes that would be beneficial not only for your horse but yourself in terms of block sizing and support and flap length or forwardness.
Then of course the fun bit – choosing colours, leathers and styling. Our Gallery page has endless ideas, you may wish to research this in advance.
Please note custom fitted saddles will not cost you extra, our priority is fitting you and your horse, bling however does!
Importantly your saddle fitter will advise you on the necessary follow up visits and after sales service. If ordering a new saddle they will return with it to confirm the fit, then depending upon usage will return for a further check in approx 2 months. This is normal as the wool will have settled it may need a top up for fine tuning and adjustment. We recommend to have your saddle check every 6 months but often this is less often, however if you are concerned or believe their is a problem your first port of call should always be your initial saddle fitter. A reputable saddle fitter will be on hand after the initial sale to continue to service your saddle over time. Revisits are chargeable, every saddle fitter is independent so ask them about their after sales services, to ensure it meets your expectations.
Most importantly if you are in doubt or feel something has changed consult with your fitter, new tracings make be taken to compare measurements. It is not uncommon for a horse to change shape; weight, routine and age are the obvious reasons but often if they have been compromised by the previous saddle it is normal to see improvement in topline as well as performance.
We specialise in making custom made saddles. Anyone can fit the easy ones, but the importance is knowing what to do when your horse is not an easy fit and how to solve these problems.
That is a what to expect from a trained experienced saddle fitter and our team at Bliss of London Ltd.
Signs that a saddle may not fit
- Rider back pain – very common from unbalanced saddles
- Horse is unhappy when saddling and girthing
- Saddle slips or moves forwards when riding
- Horse is reluctant to move forwards
- Horse has a short stride/gait
- Horse starts to refuse jumps
- Uncomfortable riding downhill
- Asymmetrical sweat marks
- Lumps after being ridden or swellings under saddle, muscle tone
- White hairs, marks
- Horse soreness or back pain
- Bucks or rears
We sell our saddles through independent saddle fitters, your sales contract is with them and we can only manufacturer to their order. We always recommend using a saddle fitter but if you do not have anyone in your area please do contact us and we will do our best to help.