The Easiest Saddle Fitting Ever

The Easiest Saddle Fitting Ever

When I wrote my 2015 goals, I mentioned that I wanted to confirm or deny Simon’s saddle fit this year.  It seemed like a huge task, because I wasn’t thrilled with the fitter I had used previously and basically bought my saddle on the internet site unseen by a tack store employee looking at a few pictures of Simon’s back.  Recipe for success, right?

Luckily an awesome blog reader (thank you!) recommended another local fitter to me, so I happily made Simon an appointment to address some issues I’d been seeing.  Mainly, his saddle slips back a lot farther than I’m comfortable with post ride.  Also, some saddle pads bunch and gap behind my leg during our ride.  I had read that saddle pad movement could be a sign of poor fit, and just decided it was time to get a professional to look at him before I tried to force the saddle in place with a breastplate and a no-slip pad.

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Also, being a heavier rider I feel like it’s extremely important for me to stay really on top of saddle fit.  Though fit is important for any horse & rider, if I’m not exactly the lightest rider in the world and my horse doesn’t exactly have the strongest hind end out there… it’s time to call in the pros when it comes to our tack!

To make a somewhat long blog post short, Simon’s saddle fit is really quite good!  The fitter apologized for being boring, but I would much rather have a boring diagnosis than a complicated, expensive one.  Plus one point for boring!

I asked her a lot of questions and found her feedback very educational, so I will share with you.

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First, she took a look at my saddle.  She thinks my Prestige Roma Jump is flocked with a mix of foam and synthetic material (possibly just synthetic wool).  The flocking should be pretty squishy, as in I should be able to easily poke and squeeze it with my finger.  Right now my flocking looks good, but I need to watch the area in the middle of the seat which allows room for his spine.  It’s slightly less squishy in that area, so need to have it re-checked in 6 months.

Next we talked about where the saddle should go on Simon.  Me being from hunterland, I was putting the saddle too far forward to begin with.  Simon has a large shoulder, and the point of the saddle needs to go behind his shoulder.  Turns out it was slipping back to where it needed to be, so I’m to start that process out less far forward to begin with.  Problem 1 solved.

Problem two regarding my bunching saddle pads isn’t a problem at all really.  Ever since I’ve had him, Simon has a dip below his withers.  It’s worse on the right than the left.

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Turns out, this dip is one of the last muscles to develop in a horse’s topline.  Now that he’s maturing and growing more muscle from flatwork bootcamp, we should expect that muscle to fill in more.  Until then, certain saddle pads that don’t have enough wither clearance are going to bunch and shift in that gap.  This, combined with my “clinging for dear life” lower leg, are causing some of my saddle pads to move and slide.

So what’s the verdict for us?  I’m to keep my simple cotton Thinline pad, because she wants the least bulky pad possible under his saddle.  His overall fit is very good, although it’s a smidge long for him and the potential to be a smidge tight around the top back of his spine depending on how the flocking holds up.  I need to switch to baby pads and thinner square pads, and make sure they have wither clearance.

Saddle pad bunching in action
Saddle pad bunching in action

When the dip in his withers muscles up more, I will need to widen my saddle.  Luckily, Prestiges can move up to 2 cm in either direction… so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Now I get to buy some new saddle pads and put my saddle worries behind me for another six months!

31 thoughts on “The Easiest Saddle Fitting Ever

  1. Great news! Max also has the “dip” below his withers and my saddle fitter confirmed the same – it’s the last muscle to develop. His saddle is a smidge too big so once he fills out there, the saddle will be perfect. Glad you won’t be putting out a ton of dough for a new saddle right now!

    1. Definitely great news! I wasn’t really entertaining getting him a new saddle, but was looking for any flocking/width/saddle pad adjustments. However, this is much easier than any of those options.

  2. Awesome news! Courage doesn’t tend to slide saddle pads around, but I rode in one the other day that was bunch city. Now I understand why. 🙂

    Btw, Ogilvy baby pads have the absolute best contouring and they aren’t super thick… in case you feel like splurging. I want more, but dressage saddle payments have eliminated all fun money for the immediate future.

  3. Yay for new saddle pads! Great information too. I’m in the middle of a saddle search and the Prestige Roma Jump was also recommended to me for Chloe. So while I have been saving my pennies I have been doing everything under the sun to get my saddle to fit as well as possible, including…wool half pads and pillow pads! Sounds like this is a no no and I will be switching to thinner pads to see if that helps until I can get a new saddle.

    1. I don’t think pillow pads are a no no for all saddles, but with mine fitting very ideal with a slight closeness around his spine – the fitter said it was best to keep things thin and simple.

      1. That makes sense. I’ve been trying to pad the saddle to keep it off the wither. But maybe that’s just putting more pressure on the spine? I don’t know. We should have a new saddle next month and I finally found a fitter in Kansas City that is willing to come out. Fingers Crossed it is as boring as your fitting! 🙂

  4. yay for good answers. I really liked the Prestige Roma from all I’ve heard, just never had any to try, and when a decent deal on a CWD popped up, I decided to splurge. As much as I want an Ogilvy, I feel it would make the saddle too tight, I stopped even using my thicker baby pads with my sheepskin for that reason. The Ogilvy baby pad is tempting.

  5. I’ve enjoyed learning more and more about saddle fit too — it’s interesting! What saddle pads are you planning on buying? I’m such a pad whore … haha

      1. Please let me know how you like the CoolMax baby pads – I’m a huge baby pad hoarder and wasn’t super happy with my recent purchase of Smartpak brand ones.

  6. Nice! No news is good news and less is more! Who knew?

    Tonight is my 6 month saddle fit check for Boca. I hope it is similarly uneventful!

  7. My mother made me some baby pads! It’s really not to terribly difficult if you’re good with a machine. Plus you can actually pick out your fabrics! All the baby pads I looked at felt too rough.

  8. that’s awesome – must be a huge relief too! i am also super guilty of putting the saddle too far forward (esp bc my mare has such a short back..) so it was enlightening for my fitter to show me how to actually figure out where the points go

  9. Sounds like you got lucky or the person at the tack store did, LOL! I need to get my hunter saddle fit for my QH. After following your blog for awhile, I can’t help but want to jump again. Probably not competitively, just for fun. I miss it. Guess I’ll get to see if my barrel horse will enjoy jumping too. 🙂

  10. I think putting the saddle too far forward is one of the biggest ‘sins’ of saddle fit! Glad to hear your saddle fits Simon pretty dang well, and that only minor padding adjustments are needed! Dino’s a bit dippy behind his withers as well, so I’m using a fleeceworks pad for now to fill in the gap 🙂

  11. That is awesome that your saddle fits pretty well!

    I feel like I’m always putting my saddle too far forward- especially my XC saddle! I am super paranoid about its forward flaps interfering with my horses’ shoulders.

    Have fun buying saddle pads!!

  12. Sounds like a successful saddle fitting!! I’m glad you found someone who does a good job for you. I’m sure Simon appreciates it too – lucky horse!

  13. I just want to say that I think most people put their saddles on top of their horse’s scapula. I don’t know why we are inclined to put it too far forward, but the scapula is such a good guide to where the saddle should be! I check and double check and triple check that mine is back far enough before I get on LOL

  14. I learned about the saddle too far forward the hard way. I ignorantly bought a breast collar for my previous TB thinking, “My saddle needs to be up further.” Everything seemed fine for a few days WITH the breast collar.–Until he exploded and reared and acted out of character. Not to bore you with details, but the appropriate fit for him was actually with the saddle sitting farther back than looked appropriate. I felt horrible I was making his back sore with the dumb breast collar thinking I was getting the “right” fit.

  15. I LOVE this post! I’ve been having the same pad slippage with Ellie- which in my mind equates to an ill fitting saddle. I’ve had CWD come out to look at the newly paneled fit and they proclaimed it good- but it’s tough to believe when you’re losing pads all over the place! Also- agree- I get stuck in the farther forward saddle but it naturally wants to sit a little further behind her withers. Great post!

  16. All the same things my saddle fitter recommends. She says most people put the saddle too far forward. I’ve learned to my saddle on, and then wiggle it backwards until it stops. This means that I when I girth up, my girth is two hands behind my horses’ elbows.

    Interesting note: when I saddled Izzy while at the trainers, she wanted the saddle moved forward. Uh … nope. :0)

    My saddle fitter also encourages contoured saddle pads, so that is all i use. It’s easy to find dressage pads cut that way; that must be the norm. The contoured pads make it easy to slide the pad up into the pommel to give plenty of whither clearance. I also think it keeps the pad from bunching up.

    And finally, I keep my padding arrangement as thin as possible. Since my saddle fits well, Speedy goes in a slightly padded square pad, no half pad. When I had Sydney, he needed a riser half pad as he was a bit narrower than Speedy. The saddle seems to fit Izzy the same way it did Sydney – he needs the riser pad as well. When my saddle fitter comes in the late spring/early summer, I’ll find out for sure what we need.

    Good news for you and Simon though. I love those kind of diagnoses. :0)

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