Thick padding under a saddle will make it comfortable for the horse.
Not really. If your saddle is too narrow, more padding (especially without a tapered foam shim in the right place) will make it even tighter – if your saddle is too big or has rock and is not balanced the pad alone can’t protect your horse from pressure. Tapered foam shims can help if you know which ones to use and where to place them.
You fit/balance the saddle for the rider, not the horse
Almost half right! But you need to consider the horse FIRST. Each horse deserves a saddle/pad/shim combo that will welcome his shape (in motion!), or it’s not fair to ride. Also, if the horse isn’t comfy, the rider’s experience (and perhaps safety) is compromised, too!
You don’t need to adjust the fit of a western saddle after the initial fitting
Old thinking! Even traditional cowboys are waking up to a new reality: A horse changes shape during training, seasons, and experience. So saddle fit will need to be adjusted to accommodate. Our custom-fit saddle system takes care of that and helps your horse stay comfortable and healthy over the years with the same saddle! Western saddle shapes of old do not adapt as well, but a good adjustable interface system can help tremendously.
The underside of the saddle shape should match the shape of the horse’s back and angle of the shoulders
Our discoveries have been conclusive: A standing horse is a very different set of shapes than one in motion. Shoulders bulge, backs lift, broaden, and snake while abdominal muscles contract to keep the trunk powerful to carry a rider! If the saddle fits the stationary horse’s original shape, there’s not enough adaptable room, and traveling isn’t comfy nor efficient from the moment he takes the first step.
Gullet size is all you need to know to fit your horse
Gullet is a relative term…it’s the general space between a saddle’s left and right undersides. This channel runs from front to back (wither toward the loin of your horse). The sloping “bars” of the saddle’s skeleton (tree) change in subtle angle and a dimension all along the way. Each horse’s body will intersect slightly differently. We’ve done your research for you and can recommend what rafter angles work for a range of wither, shoulder, seat region, and lumbar shapes. Count on us to help you be confident you’ve got it right for your horse. With proper customizing interface, our 2 generous gullet widths will fit every breed imaginable (with the exception of very small ponies). They “hug” horses instead of perching on them.
Western saddles are easier to fit than English saddles
A horse is a horse. English or Western, they each have specific custom fit needs. Changes occur during their lives and seasons. Whether you ride Western or English, you must ensure you’ve set your saddle system up to keep your horse comfortable while carrying you. It’s easy when you understand our simple system designed to help you make this happen.
Various standard measurements for saddles across the industry fit most horses
- There is NO STANDARD measurement….We discovered traditional human opinions about this usually didn’t hold up to earn the horses’ approval. Horses were our judges as we tested our theories while developing our tools and methods over the course of many years.
- Even “full quarter horse bars” are not wide enough nor shaped well for moving horses.
If you need to use a shim, your saddle doesn’t fit.
- We learned that even fine custom made saddles felt better to horses if the right shim in the right place was used!
- We’re NOT talking about just trying to shove stuff under the saddle to fill holes
- Nor are we employing 1-dimensional compressed felt or semi hard rubber or harsh-edged pieces of static material to jerry-rig a bad saddle.
- If your pad has shim pockets with vertical seams, rip out the seams because they’ll force you to put shims in wrong place which don’t help and can even hurt your horse
- We’re talking about things we’ve learned can help a less than ideal saddle feel much better…and a good saddle become truly great. From your horse’s perspective as well as your own.
The rear of your saddle should not extend further back than the 18th rib
- People often move saddles forward or choose saddle seats too small in order to make this happen. Horses hate it. They are never comfortable and can’t move efficiently if the front of the saddle puts pressure on their shoulders. If the rider is crammed tight into the seat, he/she is likely to be a stiff and unbalanced passenger.
- Western saddle skirts almost always extend beyond the 18th rib, but major weight bearing area of the saddle is forward of it.
- English saddle weight bearing area is still far enough forward even if the rear portion of the panels extend a bit beyond this traditionally sacred point.
“Full panel contact” of the saddle tree bar area from just behind the scapula to ahead of the 18th rib is important
- If the front of the saddle tree bars (either Western or English) are locked down behind the scapula’s back edge while the horse is standing or traveling, it’s unfair. There is no room for the shoulder muscles to bulge as the horse strides along. The right consistency and shape of shim lifting pressure from the scapula backswing point is key to comfort and performance.
- If the underside of the tree is shaped for the downward slope of a standing horse’s back, it will block his ability to power up, spread his back wide and carry the load comfortably. A little bit of “bridging” is a very good thing. We can help you know how much is desirable for your personal horse.