Your saddle is a vital piece of equipment for you and your horse, and the fit should be checked on a regular basis. Young horses, in particular, should be regularly monitored. The investment in a well fitting saddle will help your horses? development during those important early years.
Changes in condition, illness, injury or a new stage of training are a few of the factors that can influence the fit of a saddle. Any signs of resistance during work or unwillingness to be saddled can be an indication that something is wrong.
Saddle fitting is very complex and should always be carried out by a knowledgeable and trained fitter. The tips below can be used as a short guide to establishing if a check could be necessary.
What to look for:
The saddle should sit level on the horses’ back and the panels should sit evenly without bridging. Saddles that tip forward or tilt backward when placed on the horse indicate that the fit needs to be checked. Wool flocked panels should be equally stuffed (no lumps or dips) and not too hard.
There should be adequate clearance in the wither area.
The gullet should be a minimum of 7.5-8cms wide and the same width from pommel to cantle.
Not only should the saddle be checked but also the equipment used with it?
Girths should always be kept clean, in good condition, and be an anatomical shape to avoid pressure and friction in the sensitive elbow area. Avoid using a girth with too much elastic. Any elastic used should be strong and have several layers. With soft elastic, it is sometimes difficult to tell how much you are tightening the girth and this can lead to over girthing.
All pads used under the saddle should be of a good, firm, quality textile, and shaped to fit the horses’ back. They should also be long enough so that the pad does not end underneath the saddle as this will cause pressure points.
Amerigo MPS panels are made with a unique mixture of synthetic fibers and can be made with different levels of volume to suit each horse. Each panel is produced individually by hand and requires great skill to ensure that two equal panels are produced. Such a panel system provides many advantages in terms of fit for the horse. The absence of any ?ends? or performed stitching (gussets) on the horse, with the panels blending out away from the horse, and becoming flattened and wider with use, means that they offer a very precise and individual fit, even if used on many horses.
All Amerigo saddles are made with wooden spring trees, available in a wide selection to fit many different types of horses and riders precisely. The reinforced head iron is conceived to adjust the saddles accurately when this is required.
The Amerigo Vega saddle line is made using a specially created synthetic tree incorporating a tempered steel head iron. It reflects the most popular measurements and has produced a very flexible saddle that is suitable for many horses and riders.
All pads used under the saddle should be of a good, firm, quality textile, and very importantly also shaped to fit the horses? back, particularly in the wither area. Pads that are completely straight cut will be pushed down by the saddle and cause pressure, which can lead to sore spots either side of the sensitive wither. Hard edges from the attachment straps can also cause soreness if they press against the horse. All pads should also be long enough so that the pad does not end underneath the saddle as this will cause pressure points.
Saddle pads should not be used to correct poor saddle fit but they can be used very constructively when seen as being part of the saddle solution. Jumping horses in particular benefit from the use of sheepskin pads under the saddles to protect the area under the stirrup bar by absorbing the kinetic energy generated by the landings. During the landing phase, the horse has a short moment when the forelegs are on the ground, the head is raised, and the hind legs still in the air. At this moment the rider’s weight is completely supported by the stirrup bar, and therefore also the area of the horse directly underneath it. The use of a sheepskin pad with a well fitting saddle helps to absorb the impact of this part of the landing. Horses that are not wary of the landing impact jump rounder and more relaxed. We also recommend the use of a sheepskin pad in cases of ?hollow? or pronounced withers, as well as during recovery phases where muscle condition has been lost due to rest after injury or illness. By compensating the horse with the use of the pad the saddle can be made slightly wider and allow the horse room for muscle development underneath the saddle in the shoulder area without it being pinched or being made sore.
Hair Rub in Winter
Due to the brittle nature of the coat hairs in Winter and during the coat change in Spring, a lot of horses suffer from hair rub in certain areas including the saddle area. This is very rarely due to the saddle not fitting correctly and generally not painful. Mostly these areas are caused by the pads used under the saddle rubbing the hairs as the horse moves. Horses that move freely through their backs will have more movement towards the back of the saddle, and therefore rubbing is more likely to be visible. Rubbing that is more pronounced on one side or the other is a result of the tendency of the horse to be bent slightly more to one side than the other. This is a normal situation and is not an indication that the saddle does not fit correctly. We advise ensuring that any pads used do not have any hard edges or stitching and if the sheepskin pad is used directly on the horses skin, it is very important that the pad is kept clean and dry to avoid the sheepskin fibers forming small areas of knotted fibers, which can also cause rubbing, particularly if the horse is fully clipped. Please follow the manufacturers cleaning recommendations carefully.