When it comes to bespoke saddles and saddle fitting, the MirrorMePR equine team really do have an expert on their books with Childéric Saddles as a client. In this blog, we hand over to Childéric UK’s expert saddle technician Tricia Bracegirdle who shares her advice on common saddle fitting problems.
“It’s not just top professionals who require regular saddle checks, even if you simply enjoying hacking and a small amount of schooling, your horse’s shape does change seasonally, even if it’s down to the change of season or an increase in your training programme.
The problem is that many riders try and judge by eye if their saddle doesn’t fit, but actually even a mm difference can mean discomfort for your horse and signal the start of behavioural problems, which could be put down to your horse being ‘just naughty’ when in fact he is uncomfortable and trying to tell you this!
Most horses will either put on weight or muscle or drop off (the latter more rarely during the summer months unless the horse is stressy and/or drops off when travelling).
The most common saddle fitting problems associated with weight gain or muscle development are a change of balance usually up in front and movement/less stability in the saddle.
One of the most common problems associated with saddle fitting for horses, which have dropped off are dropping down onto the withers, which changes the balance and affecting shoulder movement and movement of the saddle.
Very often people will grab the nearest fluffy/padded saddle pad in an attempt to ‘fix’ the problem. However, it’s important to get your saddler to look at the saddle WITH the intended pad to ensure it doesn’t cause further problems, such as tightness around the wither or cause the saddle and rider to tip back or forward etc.
Sometimes a differently shaped girth can solve the movement problem so we must look at this as a solution for ‘seasonal shape-changers’!
Another consideration that riders should also look at, is their own physical shape!
Rider fitness can also affect the fit of your saddle, as can symmetry. So, if you are coming back into riding after time off, then you also need to let your saddler know. This can also explain the fit of the saddle if, after horse and saddle examination, there doesn’t seem to be an issue. Saddlers will always look at the rider as part of the fitting service, but if we get some background information early on, this very often will help us.
Remember getting your saddle checked regularly is as important as keeping your vaccinations in date or your horse’s farrier appointments, so book in your saddler BEFORE you get an issue, so that you and your horse can enjoy riding and competing without interruption!