western saddle fit
Achieving the proper Western saddle fit between the shape of the saddle tree, horse and rider is essential for overall comfort and performance. We Measure your Horse’s Back for Proper Western Saddle Fit. Our 3D Equine Saddle Fitting system makes it possible to fit even the hardest-to-fit horses to create a proper fitting saddle tree for your horse. We focus on the proper fit of our custom-made western saddles, so we measure your horse and build a saddle tree in-house that will make contact all along your horse’s back thus eliminating pressure points.
Improved comfort and performance
Trying to describe and communicate the shape of a horse’s back is a challenge. The angle and rocker of the horse’s back change by degrees all along its length and are described as the twist in western saddle lingo. But we all know that if your saddle doesn’t fit your horse he will likely be cranky, sore, misbehave, and may also be restricted in his movement. And just like shoes for people, one size does not fit all, and, like Quarter Horse bars, sizes will vary amongst manufacturers.
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
- The 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 sustainably 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 a saddle for a given horse
- Fitting a given saddle to a variety of horses
- Monitoring changes of a 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.
- Do you really know what to feel for under the saddle?
- Communicating what you need when looking for a new saddle is difficult.
- Measuring between the conchos is common, but not all conchos are placed at comparable locations on different brands of saddles, and again, it only provides one measurement in one spot on the horse’s back.
“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.
3D EQUINE SADDLE FITTING SYSTEM
Easy Fit Saddles have an answer for horse owners looking for a comprehensive description of their horse’s back. We have developed a 3D EQUINE SADDLE FITTING system combining angle and rocker to give us the twist of the tree. It is simple, quick, communicable, comparable, economical, and consistent.
Our 3D EQUINE SADDLE FITTING SYSTEM allows us or the horse owner, to accomplish all of the things we mentioned previously: 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; measure for a custom saddle tree.
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 to 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 with their horse’s back. There is no drawing or guesswork involved.
Find an existing saddle for a horse or fit
Find an existing saddle for a 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 3D equine back 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 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 a 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 well-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 layperson 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 and effective 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!
You can measure your horse by having one of our saddle reps visit or you can do it yourself by paying for the kit here and upon return we will fully refund the cost toward the purchase of a saddle or refund the full cost less shipping and handling if you decide not to purchase. (If you live outside of Canada, ask us how you should mark your paperwork to avoid duty taxes when returning the kit.)
The 3D EQUINE SADDLE FITTING SYSTEM contains everything you will need to complete the task of measuring your horse and saddle. we have an online video you can watch, written instructions you can download, pictures taken at each set of the measuring process and you can contact us by phone or a video app so we can see what you are seeing.