Almost every week I see horse owners asking in on-line forums whether or not their saddle fits their horse or, knowing that the saddle doesn’t fit, asking what type of padding can be used to make it fit.
Saddle fit is both an art and a science. By working with a saddle fitter regularly, you can start to recognize the ways that a saddle doesn’t fit, but it in the end it comes down to the comfort of your horse. Some horses are very sensitive to saddle fit and will let you know in no uncertain terms if they are uncomfortable.
I took photos recently at a saddle fitting session done by Gary Severson (aka The Saddle Doctor). The mare in question had been acting up a bit under saddle and her owner wondered if it was caused by saddle fit. Her owner had Fortune’s saddles fitted last March.
In just six months, the fit of the saddle had changed to the point where it was bothering the horse. Gary explained that he often sees horses’ backs change in that period of time. Some times it is due to the horse becoming more fit during competition; other times it’s an effect of aging. Since saddle fit changes so gradually, it often is imperceptible to the owner until it becomes an issue for the horse.
Interestingly, Fortune’s dressage saddle fit much better and required only slight modifications.