The Impact of Saddle Position on Saddle Fit

September 9, 2007 by  
Filed under Saddle Fit

Some saddle fit problems aren’t caused by a poorly fitting saddle, but rather by a saddle positioned poorly. Saddles are designed to match the horse’s anatomy when in their proper position. If the saddle is positioned in front of, or behind this position, it can cause physical problems for both the horse and rider. 

Proper saddle position will have the saddle placed on the horse’s back so that the cinch (girth) falls about four inches behind the elbow. It’s very common for riders to place the saddle too far forward, causing soreness and constricting the horse’s movement, and also putting the rider out of position. A saddle placed too far back will place the rider’s weight on the horse’s loins, causing discomfort and impairing movement. These problems can be misinterpreted as a saddle fit issue, when the saddle is not to blame. 

The best saddling technique is to place both the pad and saddle slightly in front of the final position and then slide both backwards into place by holding onto the horn (or pommel) and jiggling the saddle from side to side and back. The saddle will usually settle into the correct spot, but check to see by checking the cinch position. Then lift the pad up into the gullet to make sure it’s not putting pressure on the horse. This saddling technique will place the saddle in the proper position, leave the horse’s hair lying in the right direction, and prevent bunching of the pad. 

Evaluating your saddling technique and saddle position is a good first step in diagnosing saddle fit issues.

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2 Responses to “The Impact of Saddle Position on Saddle Fit”
  1. Bart Edson says:

    It would be oh so nice to actually see a photo of the so-called “proper position” of a Western saddle. Does the girth go right up under the “armpit” of the horse??? Or is it s few inched back? Saying that “sliding the saddle back” will put in in the proper position is not very helpful at all. What I need to know is where exactly is the “proper position”. A picture is worth a thousand words (or a thousand web pages that say the same thing as I found here).

  2. Saddle Sense says:

    Hi, Bart,
    Thanks for your question – even if it was a wee bit sarcastic. :o)

    The cinch does not go right up under the armpit. It should be about four inches back from the armpit. This area is called the heart girth. It will be the most narrow part of the horse’s barrel. The exact location of this spot on a horse is going to vary as each horse’s anatomy is slightly different.

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