Why do I need a professional saddle fit?

Apr 5, 2019 | Equestrian Info

When fitting a saddle, the comfort and fit for both horse and rider are imperative. Regardless of the discipline the horse is ridden in, if the saddle doesn’t fit the horse or you properly, not only will you not get the best out of your horse, but you also run the risk of causing damage or injury to you both.  There is a general rule for fitting and that is that no damage should occur to the horse’s skin and no injury should be presented to any muscular or neural tissues beneath the saddle.

The list below details what is checked by your saddler:

  • Width of the saddle – the saddle must be wide enough to go over your horse’s back
  • Gullet – this area of the saddle needs to clear the withers of the horse but not be so narrow as to pinch the horse’s back
  • Tree – the tree must not interfere with the movement of the horse’s shoulders
  • Saddle position – the saddle must be placed in the horse’s centre of balance
  • Saddle length – the tree/bars of the saddle need to be clear of the last rib of the horse

Whilst saddles are mass produced, not all saddles will fit all horses – not without a little tweaking and adjusting.  This is where your saddler comes in. Having undergone rigorous (and continual) training, your saddler will be able to make your saddle feel like it was made just for you and your horse. So, you see, having a professional fitting will not only offer you peace of mind that your horse is comfortable and able to perform without hindrance, but also reduces the risk of injury to you both, leaving you free to enjoy that one on one time with your precious steed.

How can you prepare for your saddle fit?

  • Your horse needs to be ready for the start of the saddle fit and be groomed where the saddle will go
  • James will spend some time examining the horse’s back, take a template and discuss any requirements
  • Once the saddle is fitted, the horse will need to be ridden so an appropriate rider must be present e.g. if it’s a saddle fit for a child they will need to be there, and be ready to ride
  • Ideally James needs a stable to work in and a field, are or sand school where he can see the horse being ridden to assess the fit of the saddle
  • The rider may be asked to pop on and off as James adjusts the saddle to the horse


Can we fit any saddle for you?

James is fully qualified to fit Bates and Wintec saddles, old and new style alike. Many saddlers will specialise in one or two styles or brands of saddles. This is due to the sheer volume of saddles available on the market.

How do I know I need to get my saddle checked?

Throughout the year your horse will change shape more than once, and this will influence how the saddle sits. Some tell-tale signs that something isn’t quite right are: o   A change in your horse’s behaviour during or after riding o   Marks or lesions on the horse where the saddle makes contact o   You notice the saddle slipping forward/backward when riding It is recommended that you have your saddle checked every 3-6 months, depending on how often you use your horse, and the discipline you ride in. If your saddle hasn’t been checked, and your horse has changed shape, it won’t be long before you start seeing some of the issues mentioned above. If you’re not sure please give us a call and we can advise on your next best course of action.

How much does it cost for a saddle fit?

The service costs £60 and is payable on the day to James or can be paid over the phone to either of our stores. We do not charge for mileage unless you are outside of a 15-mile radius from the Littlehampton or Midhurst shop.  After that point mileage is charged at 50p per mile each way.

How long does a saddle fitting take?

We ask our customers to allow up to 2 hours for James’ visit. However, it can be done in less time than that. Every saddle fit is different! We stock a wide range of both Bates and Wintec saddles, with the ability to take delivery of a saddle if not in stock, within 24 hours (subject to availability). We ask each customer to pop in to either our Midhurst or Littlehampton store to find the right saddle for you. This is a great opportunity for you to see which saddle fits you and feels comfortable to sit in. Once you have chosen a saddle that suits you, we can arrange a saddle fit for you. James will bring the chosen saddle with him and all being well it will fit your horse. If you would like to book in or discuss a saddle fit further, please call our Littlehampton store on 01903 732392 or fill in and submit our online enquiry form.