Wouldn’t It Be Great to Know Your Saddle Really Fits?
More and more we are hearing from riders that they want information about how their saddle fits their horse. They may be concerned about the physical effects of an ill-fitting saddle and they are seeking top performance from their horse. Because of the endless permutations of the shape and size of horse backs and saddle shapes and sizes, saddle fit can be very confusing. If they can find someone who is knowledgeable, can they afford to have their horse and saddle checked and then what can they do with that information? Easy Fit Saddles has 3-D back profiling system that resolves issues facing horse owners who want to fit horses and saddles.
When we thought about saddle fit for the horse, we started thinking about ourselves and why we would want a good fitting shoe for ourselves, and the reasons are very much the same:
- Comfort through proper sizing to avoid pinch points or excessive rubbing
- Weight bearing in the appropriate places
- Fullest range of movement possible
- Correct angles
- Even weight distribution; prevent high pressure areas
- Absorb impact
If we are walking around our yard we might choose flip-flops but if we are going to be travelling faster or longer distances or over rough terrain, we are going to choose the best fitting, most comfortable shoe we own. Likewise, if we remove any inhibitors in the saddle for the horse, he will comfortably and sustainable be able to focus on the job at hand, resulting in his best performance.
How your saddle fits, or conforms to your horse’s back, is determined by the shape of the tree inside the saddle. If the tree doesn’t fit properly, neither will the saddle. We define proper fit as achieving contact between the tree and the horse’s back over as large an area as possible while not creating pressure points during normal riding activity. The tree should equally distribute the combined weight of the rider and equipment, thus reducing the pound per square inch ratio. Saddle pads may help for fine tuning a relatively close fit, but cannot completely compensate for a drastically improper fit, therefore should not be used as a permanent substitute for a truly, proper fitting saddle tree.
A good description of your horse’s back is important when:
- Finding an existing saddle for a given horse
- Fitting a given saddle to a variety of riding horses
- Monitoring changes of a given horse over time
- Measuring for a custom saddle tree.
Traditional Measuring Methods
Horses come in all shapes and sizes; like a snowflake, no two are the same. Even among breeds we cannot make many generalizations as to shape. So how can a horse owner begin to describe their horse’s back? Traditional methods of saddle fitting are limited. What horse owner hasn’t bent a piece of wire around a horse’s wither to try and get a measurement? Who hasn’t slid their hand under the saddle on the horse, to see if the saddle fits? A wither measurement only provides one measurement in one spot on the horse’s back. And do you really know what to feel for under the saddle? Communicating what you need when looking for a new saddle is difficult.
“Quarter Horse bars” is a common descriptor on western saddles, but what does that mean? What about semi-QH bars and full-QH bars? If you have a Quarter Horse then surely one of those will fit your horse – right? Not necessarily. There is no standard in the industry as to the dimensions of any of those descriptors. Additionally, it generally refers to wither measurement only. There is no difference in rock or how far back that wither ties into the back or any other measurement of the back.
Many times we have heard people say they have a saddle that fits every horse they’ve ever ridden. The saddle tree likely has bars that are very rounded. It may result in contact with the horse’s back but the surface area will be very small, much like a halter made of rope versus a flat strap. It may sit such that it is secure in one area but it cannot compensate for the many variations along the length of multiple horses backs.
3-D Profiling System
Easy Fit Saddles have an answer for horse owners looking for a comprehensive description of their horse’s back. We have developed a 3-D Back Profiling system based on a series of cards. It is simple, quick, communicable, comparable, economical, and consistent.
Our 3-D Profiling system allows us or the horse owner, to accomplish all of the things we mentioned previously: find an existing saddle for a given horse; fit a given saddle to a variety of riding horses; monitor changes of a given horse over time; measure for a custom saddle tree.
3-D Back Profiling – With our system, the horse’s back is measured every 2” along its length and the degree of rock is determined with the rock card. We start by marking the back of the horse’s scapula and the last rib. Between these we mark every 2 inches. We then find the best fitting profile card at each of those marks. Three and a half inches down from the spine we find the rock card that fits best. A measurement from the lowest point of the wither to the back of the scapula helps us determine wither length, and the lowest point of the wither to the last rib gives us back length. It takes a few tries to master the process, but it’s not difficult and the results are well worth it.
After our customers (or a saddle fitter) measure their horses they simply supply us with the sizes (number and letter) at the various points along their horses back. There is no drawing or guesswork involved.
3-D Saddle Profiling – Find an existing saddle for a given horse or fit a given saddle to a variety of riding horses – We can utilize the inverse of the horse’s measurements and make a full size 3-D profile of the horse’s back with which to compare a saddle. The owner can then determine if an existing saddle will fit or if it could be made to fit with shims or by adjusting padding thickness.
Monitor changes of a given horse over time – Remeasuring the horse at a later date will quickly show if the horse has changed through age or conditioning.
Measure for a custom saddle tree – Easy Fit Saddles can build a saddle tree to match your horse’s shape. Our well designed tree will fit a range of horses. The horse in the middle of the range will be fit the best but the large amount of surface area and the design of our tree bar, allows the saddle to be used comfortably on horses on both sides of that “ideal fit”.If a rider has multiple horses that are somewhat similar in size, knowing exactly where they are different allows us to know exactly where to shim or change padding when using one saddle on multiple horses.
Just like a good fitting pair of shoes for a person, a well fit saddle is extremely important to your horse’s comfort, long term health and performance. The lay person has had very few methods at their disposal for determining their horse’s back shape and in turn, saddle fit. Easy Fit Saddles has come up with an efficient method of measuring a horse and determining saddle fit. It is well worth the effort of measuring to keep your horse’s back healthy throughout his riding career so you can both enjoy your time on the trails or in the show ring!
Technology for perfect saddle fit
Ultimate solution for saddle fitting, saddle selection and saddle shimming.
A perfect fitted saddle is very important for the horses’ health. Use the Horse shape System for ultimate transparency and long-term health of horses.
Horse’s well-being and performance are front and center. Nobody wants to harm their horse and anyone spending hours on their horse getting it into competition shape doesn’t want the saddle to limit performance. Riding longer, faster or with heavier riders, proper fit becomes crucial. A proper fitting saddle allows the horse to build back muscle and become more balanced and symmetrical. Fit needs to be tracked and adjusted.
The typical horse owner has no way to diagnose and document alterations of his horse’s back. Therefore, a timely communication with a specialist in case of significant alterations of the horseback is not possible. Any costs caused by bad fit, such as dropping out of the horse, veterinarian costs, or declining value have to be borne by the owner himself.
The challenge for the saddle specialist is to detect these conditions and fit the saddle according to the specific needs of horse and equestrian. However, the foundation for the refit of the saddle is largely non transparent and difficult to control or comprehend. Therefore, even saddlers and retailers have to rely on their experience as there are no appropriate tools at hand that provide reliable information on how to customize the saddle fit.
Easy Fits 3D back profiling system is the first to offer a technological and 100 percent reliable system to determine the individual shape of any horseback. As everybody can easily and reliably control the individual fit of a saddle on the shape of the horseback as well as recognize any necessary adjustments, this procedure creates a transparency never seen before in equitation. Labor input of saddlers and retailers is highly minimized. Saddle makers have access to raw data for optimization of their saddle types. Alternatively, they can produce a 100 percent made-to-measure saddle via an interface.
The horseback is measured through our templating system to a 3D model. This is converted into a life size mock-up that supports horse owners as well as saddlers and saddle makers to ensure and improve the accuracy of fit, as it can be inserted into the saddle and thereby visualizes the fit. The opposite can be placed on your horses back to recognize change in shape or on multiple horses to see where shimming will be needed.
3D- equine back profiling Kit
- Simplicity – This is by far the simplest, quickest and easiest method of any that we know of at this time. A complete set measurements of one horse can be achieved in a matter of minutes. All you need is a set of the cards and a pencil and paper to record your results.
- Communication – The sizes that your horses measure, can be conveniently and quickly communicated over the phone or email to anyone else who is using the Dennis Lane Card system. There is no need to send drawings or castings of horse’s backs by mail. Reliable – The cards are more reliable and easier to use than the old “bend a piece of wire over the horse’s back” system
- Comparable – Using this system, the measurements that you take has instantly provided a category or size number. This is comparable to other sizes, and you see how the other sizes compare. Back-maps and casts do not in themselves provide a size and are not easily compared against each other.
- Economical – A one-off investment enables you measure and record and infinite number of horses. Unlike any of the casting type measure
- Consistent – Due to the above advantages this system of measurements and numbers is being used by more and more saddle makers and saddle tree makers. This is leading towards a more consistent terminology throughout the industry
- From the measurement we can
Saddle tree that truly fits –
- Fitting Set – The life-size model of the horseback
- Individuality: The Fitting Set is custom-made for every measurement and perfectly recreates the scanned horseback
- Reliability: By direct data transfer to our cutting laser we can ensure highest reliability in our manufacturing process
- Precision: Both parts of the Fitting Set are produced out of single-piece material and therefore fit together perfectly
- Shape proof – Fits perfectly on the horse
- Documentation: The life-size model fits seamlessly on the horse and documents the horseback at the time of measurement
- Show changes: By simply applying the Shape proof to the horseback you can easily spot changes over time
- Saddle guide: Takes the horseback to the workshop
- Recreating: The model precisely recreates the horse’s back and supports choosing, fitting and re-flocking of the saddle
- Transparency: By placing the Saddle guide in the saddle you can easily evaluate the saddle fit