If you have not had a saddle fit in the last 6 months, your saddle may be hurting your horse!

Most riders are simply not aware of the importance of a correct saddle fit and yet wonder why their horse is not performing and/or is losing top line.  Have you done your ASFA 15 Saddle Fitting Checks to see if you're due for a Saddle Fit?

Saddle fitting is not just for Riding Professionals!

The shape of your horse’s back is in a constant state of change which impacts the way your saddle fits. Your horse’s back muscles change every time you change their feed or bring your horse back into work after a break or injury.

As your horse’s shape changes, your saddle needs to be adjusted to ensure your horse can move comfortably under saddle without pain. This is true for pleasure riders right up to the elite Olympian!

An ill-fitting saddle can not only inhibit performance it can cause damage to your horse!

Many riders have been riding for years and have never considered that horse's behaviour can be directly related to back pain. Unfortunately, horses cannot verbalise that they are in pain, however if you look closely, they may actually be shouting at you and you have not realised! We are often too quick to say our horse is "Naughty" when in reality they may be telling you they are actually "In Pain"!

"Most riders are simply unaware that their horse may be in pain due to an ill fitting saddle! Most horses are saddle sore, as horses were not designed to be ridden." says Ian Bidstrup, Director SpinalVet. Ian is also an ASFA Master Saddle Fitter, who is also a Member of Australian Chiropractic Vets of Australia.

"Fortunately, once saddle soreness is recognised, many horses can be rehabilitated. Once they are rehabilitated, saddles can be correctly fitted and owners can find they are riding a new horse. It's important that owners become more aware of the importance of getting regular saddle fits" Ian says.

Saddle Fitting is an Ongoing Process!

Every time you change your horse's diet or feed, the muscles on their back change shape. To ensure your saddle always fits, ASFA recommends that in general, saddles need to be fitted at least every 6 months to accommodate these changes.

New saddles need to be fitted too!

There are two important considerations when buying a new saddle. The first is to find the right saddle for you and then equally as important, is to ensure the saddle fits your horse. It’s important that you have your saddle re-fitted after around 6 months, as it will settle as it breaks in which will impact the fit.

The ASFA 15 Saddle Fit Checks

5 Horse Behavioural Checks

  1. Does he wince when you touch his back, or try to kick, bite or is generally not happy when you groom him or saddle him up?
  2. Is he cold backed when mounted?
  3. Does he generally resist your aids or does he go with False Collection?
  4. Does he have muscle loss, dry spots, broken or white hairs?
  5. Is he difficult to shoe or resists raising his legs?

5 Saddle Checks

  1. Does your saddle tip you off balance either forwards, backwards or to one side or does the saddle just not feel right?
  2. Is there less than 2 fingers clearance along saddle panels to his spine?
  3. Does the saddle seem to have uneven pressure through the panels down behind your horse's shoulder or along his back?
  4. Is your saddle new and has not been fitted?
  5. Has it been more than 6 months since your last Saddle Fit?

5 General Checks

  1. Has your horse recently come into work?
  2. Has your horse's diet recently changed?
  3. Has your horse recently recovered/recovering from an injury or illness?
  4. Is your horse new?
  5. Are you sharing a saddle with other horses?

If you have answered "Yes" to any of these questions, it's time to book an appointment with your local ASFA Accredited Saddle Fitter. Your ASFA Accredited Saddle Fitter is trained to recommend other specialists if the problem is beyond Saddle Fit.