Proper saddle-fit is one of the most important aspects of horse-riding. A saddle that’s not optimally fitted makes both the rider and horse uncomfortable, especially on those long trail rides on rough terrain.
How does one achieve a proper saddle-fit consistently? Here are some tips to help you with it:
Inspect Overall Fit
Take a look at how exactly your saddle sits on the horse. First of all, the bars of the saddle should be position along the muscles of the back without actually touching the spine. Secondly, there should be adequate space between the horse’s wither and the gullet of the saddle, preferably enough to fit two to three of your fingers. The front arch of the saddle should also be wide enough to allow free movement of the horse’s shoulders.
Keep an Eye for Changes in the Horse’s Size
For one reason or the other your horse can experience either weight gain or loss over time. For instance, a sickness can lead to depletion of both the horse’s fat store and the atrophying of its muscles. As a result, you may find that a saddle that may have fit perfectly a few months ago may be too big for your horse.
Age obviously affects the size of the horse as well. Hence, if you’re purchasing a saddle for a two year old, you should be aware that you’ll have to replace it another year or so as the horse grows.
Don’t Over-Tighten the Cinch
Tightening the cinch may allow you to secure the saddle onto the back of your horse. However make sure that you don’t over-tighten as this can pinch the animal and cause extreme discomfort.
Invest In a Lighter Saddle
Sometimes the main issue is weight. A saddle that’s too heavy can make a horse saddle-sore pretty quickly. Typically, trail saddles are much lighter than those that are made for equine sports specifically.
Invest in a Breast collar
When you’re going uphill, saddles typical tend to slide towards your horses posterior. After a while, this can lead to the development of saddle sores. A breast collar can easily prevent this, especially a wide, flat one that is made of heavy leather.
Get Wider Stirrups
When you’re out riding for long periods of time, it can be quite taxing on your foot. Wider, flatter stirrups can maximize support for the balls of your feet. In addition you should look into getting shock-absorbing pads as well as those can improve the comfort of your joints, especially when you’re riding on rough terrain.
Pay Attention to Your Horse’s Sweat Patterns
Sweat patterns present on the back of your horse are great indicators of how exactly the saddle fits. If the sweat pattern is even throughout, then you have nothing to worry about. However, if you notice dry areas interrupting the pattern, then that is indicative of pressure points. In addition swirl marks usually point to too much movement of the saddle.
Once you achieve the perfect saddle-fit, your horse should be more willing to take you on longer rides. Plus you’ll be much more comfortable and able to avoid repetitive strain injuries.