WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL ABOUT CUSTOM SADDLE FIT?
Saddle fit is a big deal! Horse backs are all unique along their length and many angles; they change throughout their life-cycle, degrees of fitness, and many are not symmetrical. If your saddle doesn’t fit your horse he will likely be cranky and sore, and may also be restricted in his movement. And just like shoes for people, one size does not fit all. However, once your horse reaches maturity, his bone structure will remain relatively the same so a custom saddle, with a little tweaking over the years, should continue to provide him with a good fit.
The permutations for the shape of horse’s backs are as infinite as the shapes of saddles produced. If your horse is to carry you comfortably, you want to get it right. If the saddle is too narrow in the front it will pinch the wither. Too wide and the saddle may fall onto the wither. If the tree bar (the framework inside the saddle) is too flat then only the tips of the bars will sit on the horse losing equal weight distribution along the bars. Too much rock and all of your weight is on the center and the saddle will feel unstable. Too long and the saddle may hit them in the hip. These are just some of the things to consider in saddle fit; many fitting solutions require more refined evaluation.
Most horses are quite willing to try just about anything for you but if you are facing some difficulty with your horse, saddle fit is one of the things you should check. Pay attention to your horse’s language as he will try to tell you through behaviours such as: bucking, rearing, refusal to go downhill, ears back when saddling, won’t pick up one lead, continually poking his nose at one shoulder. It’s not always apparent as to what is bothering him and you will wish he could speak your language! With some visual observations of your saddle, you may be able to see things that could be related to the difficulty you are facing. Look for uneven sweat marks, saddle slipping sideways, forward or back, white hairs, whither clearance. Some issues with saddle fit are hard to figure out and that’s where a professional saddle fitter can be of help.
To make quality saddles, you have to start with quality trees, custom fit to the individual horse and rider. The purpose of a saddle tree is to distribute the rider’s weight over a large area, keep the pressure off the spine, tendons, and reflex points, give the horse’s shoulders room to move and stabilize the rider in a balanced position in alignment with the horse’s center of balance. The quality of the tree and its fit to both horse and rider ultimately determines you and your horse’s satisfaction with the finished product.
Poor saddle fit can cause pain and trauma to your horse, which often manifests as a training issue or poor performance. Think of how much better you can move in a good fitting pair of shoes versus a poor fitting pair where you are always distracted by the shoes. As a horse is ridden over longer distances, at higher speeds, or by heavier riders, proper fit becomes more important – an even bigger deal!
How We Build Our Made-to-Measure Trees to Truly Fit your Horse
At Easy Fit Saddles we build our own lightweight trees for horses using modern materials so we can easily shape them to your horse’s specifications, and to yield higher strength while eliminating weight. The extra-wide bars evenly distribute the rider’s weight, eliminating pressure points and giving your horse a good, comfortable fit.
We have been building and testing various versions of these trees since 1995 and they are in use by ourselves as well as endurance riders, western sports competitors, mounted police, outfitters, feedlots, and parks throughout the world. Our latest version is our best ever.
We build our trees to fit your horse with our Saddle Fitting Support Program. We start with detailed measurements of your horse’s back. These measurements will be used as the template for the saddler to produce the tree. By working with the structure of the horse, the tree will stabilize both the saddle and the rider in a balanced position that is in alignment with the horse’s center of gravity.
Our Qualified Saddle Fitters understand horse anatomy, the concepts of recognizing and resolving asymmetry, fitting the tree, and fitting the rider with the correct seat size, individual seat inserts, and adjustable fenders.
Fine Tune Saddle Fit for your Horse with our Unique Features
A tree built for your horse is the first and most important step of your custom saddle but we have added a couple more features that can give you opportunity for fine-tuning: shim pockets and cable rigging.
We have incorporated detachable bar pads with shim pockets under the tree bars to allow the saddle to be easily adjusted by rider or professional to properly fit your horse’s asymmetrical or changing shape. The bar pads are approximately 1/2″ thick and are made from from breathable materials. Shims can be inserted at any point along their length. An example of a time when you would use this is if your horse has one shoulder larger than the other. A shim on one side would make the saddle sit straight and keep your weight from tipping into that pocket. Or, if you have an older horse who is becoming more sway backed with age, a shim in the middle might help keep more contact between the bars and his back and prevent saddle bridging.
Our cable girth rigging system is a continuous loop of poly-coated, stainless, aircraft cable which is moulded into the tree. This is what your latigo and off-side billet is attached to and from which your cinch is hung. It pulls evenly from side to side and front to back and can eliminate the requirement of a back cinch. It is stronger and lighter than any other rigging system we know of while allowing for close contact with your horse by eliminating the bulk and weight associated with traditional rigging. The cable can be adjusted to full, 7/8, 3/4 or even centerfire positioning but left alone it acts as an equalizer allowing the saddle and cinch to find their natural positions. For asymmetries, the position can be adjusted differently on each side and, in conjunction with shimming, pull the saddle off a small, weak or atrophied shoulder so it can rehabilitate.