Most individuals purchase a saddle when they get their first horse, and it is one of the most important pieces of equipment they purchase. It is a significant financial commitment and selecting and purchasing a functioning saddle takes some thought and research on your part. Most saddles have a lifespan many times longer than that of a horse, therefore while choosing a saddle, use extreme caution.
Not every saddle is suitable for every horse, just as not all bell boots are suitable for every rider of the same size or shape. When selecting a saddle, several aspects of the horse's anatomy must be considered, including the size and form of the withers, the length of the back, the slope of the shoulder, the spring of the rib, and the amount of muscling, particularly in the shoulder. It is possible that you may need to consider the overall size of the horse to some extent, especially when dealing with smaller horses and ponies.
The majority of saddle fitting issues arise at the withers. There must be sufficient distance between the withers to prevent harm, but not so much room that all security is compromised. Aside from that, pressure should not be placed on specific parts of the back and withers. There should be approximately 2 inches of space between the withers and the gullet of the saddle when a rider is mounted in a standard-issue saddle.
Insufficient clearance, even with a substantial saddle blanket, indicates that either the fork of the saddle is too broad, or that the horse's withers are too high and narrow, or that both are the case. Adding a thick pad, as well as a second or third blanket, may be beneficial. It is preferable, however, to have a saddle that is thinner if at all feasible.
Injury to the withers is most often caused by a saddle that is not properly fitted. The horse may develop undesirable behaviours such as bucking and head slinging as a result of the discomfort, and the saddle may cause the horse to reject being saddled altogether. Ill-fitting saddles are occasionally the product of the rider's carelessness, but they are more commonly the consequence of a lack of understanding and concern for the horse's wellbeing.
Saddles that are excessively thin are frequently used on horses with flat, "mutton" withers. As a result, they are forced to sit significantly higher in the front. In order to avoid a hurting back, additional blankets should be used, but there is nothing else that can be done to ease the situation. Change the saddle or the horse if at all feasible in order to avoid the discomfort and exhaustion that arise from this circumstance. Roping should never be done on a horse with an extremely thin saddle because of the animal's size.
The width of the fork of standard saddles ranges from 5.5 inches to 7 inches in diameter. Saddles are usually between 6 and 6.75 inches broad on average. With the use of a decent blanket or pad, this breadth is suitable for the majority of horses.