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I don’t need to check my saddle–do I?

Okay, you have a saddle that fits your horse and is comfortable for you too. You may even have a saddle custom-fitted to your horse. You’ve got it made, right? Well—no, not necessarily. A saddle that fits perfectly today may not fit that way next week: a horse’s back can change quickly as a result of training, weight fluctuations, injuries, etc. Even new shoes or trim can affect a horse’s posture so that he holds his back differently.

Some English-style saddles are foam-filled and can adjust somewhat to different equine back shapes, but major changes are impractical. Saddles with wool-stuffed panels don’t mold to different back shapes as well as those filled with foam, but they can be more easily restuffed to fit individual horses. When you buy your saddle, or have it restuffed, it should be custom-fitted to the horse that wears it. Beware those saddlemakers who tell you it’s not necessary to fit the saddle to the horse when restuffing. And there is no such thing as a saddle that really fits all equine backs. The adjustable trees that are now available are a great idea, but they can cause more problems than they solve. Western saddles, of course, don't have adjustable panels, so the fit must be good, and you must then rely on pads to fine-tune the fit.

Even if you have your saddle customized for your horse, as already mentioned your horse’s back can change quickly. So it’s essential to know how to adjust the fit so the saddle doesn’t interfere with the horse’s movement. And if you use the saddle on more than one horse, it is almost certain that you will have to adjust the fit.

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Last updated July 11, 1999

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