Saddle Fit Isn’t Really That Difficult
I’m one of those people who believes that the issue of saddle fit is often made much more difficult than it needs to be. Don’t get me wrong, I think good saddle fit is extremely important. I just believe that with the majority of horses (probaly as much as 80 or 90% of horses) you can achieve good saddle fit with saddles with semi or regular quarter horse bars.
The key for these 80% to 90% of horses is to choose a quality saddle that comfortably clear a horse’s withers, allows for free movement of the shoulders, is the proper length and shape for its back, and is well balanced to provide good weight distribution.
The other 10%-20% of horses are where the fit challenge comes in because they have an atypical conformation that doesn’t follow the norms. Common conformation deviations that can cause saddle fit problems include low withered, flat withered, narrow withered, high withered, prominent shoulders, wide back, wide barrel, short back.
To really pose a problem, though, the deviations have to be significant. Small deviations don’t really cause a problem with most saddles. Too many folks quickly decide that their horse is "mutton-withered" or "flat-backed" and tough to fit and needs a special saddle.
Before you jump to this conclusion make sure you explore some other potential causes. Somtimes the problem is more rider-related than saddle-related. Saddle positioning and horsemanship skill can significantly impact how a saddle rides and whether it slips.
I hear many novice riders complain about their saddles slipping, especially when they mount. I rarely hear this complaint from more experienced horsemen. The novice horseman keeps tightening and tightening their cinch, and yet the saddle still slips. This could be a saddle fit problem. It’s more often a horsemanship skill problem. I know. I’ve been there. 😮