Saddle Fitting and Saddle Safety – Inspection Tips
1. A lot of smoke is sent up here. There is a lot of bull told by a few saddle and tack stores across the country. Yes, I am going to open a can of worms. Believe me, this can have a ton of opinions.I will use some terms here which describe parts and areas on a saddle. See below Tree and Saddle Parts below. This is in reference with measurements with Old Names, New Names and Standards.
2. Another view of saddle complete with labels and associated numbers. A good fitting saddle is absolutely mandatory for the comfort of your horse. It improves the way your horse will work, making him more willing. It won’t interfere with his natural movement and most importantly, it will evenly distribute the rider’s weight. This will prevent saddle sores, rubs, trapped nerves, bad backs, lameness, evasions, and spinal diseases!
Here’s how to do it!
3. Place the saddle in the correct position.
Begin by removing any saddle cloth that the saddle usually sits on. Never fit a saddle on with anything underneath. Tie your horse up on a flat surface. Begin by placing the saddle slightly up your horse’s neck. Gently slide it backwards, so that the saddle fits directly behind the shoulder blade. On most horses, the shoulder blade feels like a large lump underneath the wither area.
4. Determine the correct width. the saddle from behind, or in front. You should clearly be able to see daylight through the gullet or channel running through the saddle. There should be a clear distance of roughly 3-4 fingers when you place your hand at the pommel area, which is the arch at the front of the saddle.
5. View the seat area. When viewed from the side, the seat area should be horizontal. When viewed from the front, the saddle should fit snugly around the horse’s shoulders.
6. Determine the correct length. Sit on the prospective saddle. You should be able to fit one hand’s width behind the pommel, the arch at the front and one hands width in front of the cantle, at the back of the saddle. If the saddle is too long, it may cause pressure on the horses loins, causing a sore back. The saddle should not extend past the horse’s last rib. If it does, the saddle places pressure on the horse’s internal organs.
7. Measure the saddle. With your measuring tape, measure from the center of the cantle,
at the back of the saddle to the point of tree at the front of the saddle. As a general rule, children’s saddles are under 16 inches and adults, 17 inches plus.
8. Try the saddle. Always try out a potentially correct saddle, by riding in it. Begin by doing up the girth straps firmly. The saddle should
not move excessively in walk, trot or canter. The saddle should always be in contact with the skin on your horses back.
It must feel comfortable for the rider but bear in mind that a saddle needs to be well worn, just like a pair of shoes, to mold to your horse’s back and to your bottom!
So, once you’ve chosen the correct saddle, stick with it!
Now that you have learned how to fit your saddle, you can continue the learning.
Q: How do you know you have a top quality saddle?
A: You compare and contrast the results from others’ saddles to our own OBL custom, quality saddles.
Next we will show what we’re looking for in our saddle inspection process.
OBL Quality – Top 10 Saddle Safety Inspection Tips
Here at Oak Brand Leather we’re kind of one-note wonders. The song we’re always singing is “We carry high quality products.”
But you might be wondering what we mean by that. We’ve recently added two more American saddle manufacturers to our inventory.
Here is the inspection process our saddle experts go through to ensure that we’re only selling products that are top-of-the-line. If a company fails at any point,
we don’t carry the product.
1. Verify that all the materials are American
We do not sell imported saddles, nor do we sell saddles made from imported materials.
If a product is made or assembled primarily in America, we can make sure things are
done right. If materials are coming from somewhere else, we can’t be sure.
2. The leather should be genuine cowhide with choice cuts from the hide, not marred and scratched.
All leather is not created equal. Low quality leather can be scratched and marred the
first time you unpack your saddle from the box. Leather can also be made from cows
that have been frolicking around thorn bushes all their lives, resulting in a hide that i
s veined. The leather of a saddle should be top-quality that is smooth, yet thick and durable.
3. Tree should be a solid tree from a well-known manufacturer, if not a handmade tree.
Not all our manufacturers make their own trees. If they don’t,
we make sure their tree supplier is well-known, tried & tested.
4. Seating and skirting should be straight on tree – not askew.
5. Stitching should be inline. No unintentional zigzag.
A common place where low-quality saddles show their mistakes is in the stitching. It takes
skill to make all the stitching straight and to start and end the stitching correctly.
We make sure it’s not sloppily done.
6. Seat should sit tight on tree – no air pockets or bunching up.
Another area it takes skill to do well–the seat.
7. Finished leather should accept the dye. Not look as though it was painted on and can flake off.
Quality leather dyes well, but that too takes skill. Do it incorrectly, and the dye looks like a bad
paint job waiting to rub off on your pants.
8. Synthetic saddles should be made of Corduroy – not vinyl.
Vinyl can rip, tear, peel, and give under pressure. We don’t like vinyl.
Corduroy, on the other hand, is a high quality material suitable for saddles.
9. All hardware should be tight – shouldn’t have to worry about saddle falling apart.
There’s nothing worse than getting ready to mount your horse and wondering if the
rigging is going to hold. The saddle hardware should feel like it’s going to take a beating and not budge.
10. Company has to stand behind their product.
We know you expect us to stand behind our products. We expect the same of each of our manufacturers. Saddles should
be built to last–they’re not decorations. And when they’re made well, there’s no reason not to stand behind them. Most of
our manufacturers stand behind their products with warranties. We appreciate that and know you do too.
BTW, we offer a 100% FREE saddle inspection process!
Simply bring us your saddle and we will have our craftsmen inspect it your free of charge.
If we find some issue with the saddle we will give you a reasonable estimate to repair the imperfections. Request a FREE saddle inspection today!