How to Fit a Western Saddle

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Place the saddle pad on the horses back.,
Place the saddle on your horse’s back.,
Check the gullet clearance.,
Check the horse’s topline.,
Check the bar flare.,
Pay attention to your horse throughout the fitting process.,
Check the space from your seat to the swell.,
Check your seat and the cantle.,
Place your feet in the stirrups.

Putting a saddle pad on the horses back prevents the leather from rubbing the horse. Make sure the front is near the end of the withers.
, Make sure that your horse is secure in cross-ties or being held by a helper throughout the process. Place the saddle directly on their back , making sure that it does not block the front shoulder or extends beyond the last rib in their ribcage.

, The gullet is the hollow space that runs down the top of the horse’s spine. If you stand behind your horse, you should be able to look down the gullet and see all the way through to the horse’s mane. On the front side of the saddle, you should be able to stack 2-3 fingers vertically inside the gullet.

If you can only fit one finger or less in the gullet, then the saddle tree is too narrow.
If you can fit significantly more than three fingers in the gullet, then the saddle tree is probably too wide.

, An average horse has a topline that peaks slightly at the withers and croup, with a low dip between the two. The two primary problems appear if a horse is swayback (has a significant dip between the withers and croup) or is straight-backed (has little to no dip between the withers and croup). The saddle should match the angle of the topline.

Bridging will occur if the saddle rests on the croup and the withers without touching the space between the two. Check this on your horse, as if it occurs it will cause sores on the places the saddle comes into contact. Your horse will require a saddle with a larger bend in the saddle tree.
If your horse has a straight back (this is most common in mules), then the saddle will rock back and forth on their back. You can rectify this by purchasing a special mule saddle that has a particularly straight saddle tree.

, The bars (two parallel bars that run the length of the saddle, giving it support) flare out slightly at the front of the saddle. The most common problem that arises with ill-fitting bars is that there is not enough flare, which constricts shoulder movement and can cause sores. Check to make sure that the saddle flares out from the horse a bit in the front, to allow better freedom of movement., If you’re ever not sure if the saddle you’re trying out doesn’t fit your horse, look to the horse for cues. Their body language will show you if a saddle is uncomfortable or painful, or if a saddle fits well and is tailored to their shape.

, Sit relaxed in the seat of the saddle, and check the amount of space there is from the front of your seat to the swell/fork of the saddle (the part the horn is attached to). In a well-fitting saddle, you should have about 4 inches (10.16 cm) between the front of your body and the fork of the saddle.

, The cantle is the raised part, similar to the back of a chair, that is placed behind your seat on the saddle. If your saddle fits you well, you should be resting just below the rise of the cantle. If the saddle is too large on you, there will be more than 2 fingers’ width of space between your rear and the cantle. If the saddle is too small for you, you will be resting on the cantle itself.

, When sizing a western saddle, you should be able to stand up in the stirrups and have 2 inches (5.08 cm) to 4 inches (10.16 cm) between your bottom and the seat of the saddle. Stirrups can be adjusted, but you don’t want extra leather hanging loose.

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