Updated: Jul 13
Welcome to this weeks edition of take 5 things with Poppy Webber, Poppy is a master saddler with many years experience of saddle fitting as well as being a member of the society of master saddlers and the owner of PeeWee Saddlery. Poppy explains about the important points when checking the fit of a saddle.
A word from Poppy
How many times do you see people looking for a saddle online, asking (for example) for a 17 inch, medium wide saddle. As if length and width are the only things that are important when it comes to fitting a saddle. If that were the case… saddle fitters wouldn’t need to train for many years. Actually, there are LOADS of things we look out for when it comes to saddle ‘fit’ and here are just FIVE of them.
1. Width - The saddle ‘points’ have to be at the right angle for the horse. They should mirror the width of the horse at the point at which they sit. The ‘head’ of the saddle shape will vary according to wither shape and how wide the spinous processes (the parts of the spine you can feel) are at the wither.
2. Length - the saddle should not, expect under very exceptional circumstances, go past the horse’s last rib, otherwise known as T18 (or Thoracic18).
3. Angle Of The Rail - The ‘rails’ run down the sides of the tree from front to back. These need to sit at the correct angle, to match the horse’s back shape. For example, a flat backed cob would require flatter rails than an a-framed back Thoroughbred horse.
4. Shape Of The Tree - the tree itself needs to mirror the shape of the horse’s back. A flat tree would ‘bridge’ on a back with curve; whilst a curved tree would ‘rock’ on a flat back.
5. Positioning Of Girth Straps - The girth straps need to hang naturally to the groove that the girth will sit into, otherwise the girth groove will pull the saddle out of place and cause excessive movement.
And many, many more things - panel shape/width/length, gusset size, gullet channel width, knee block positioning, and whether it fits the rider … to name a few. So, next time you think about what is involved in fitting a saddle… remember it’s more than just about how long and how wide it is.
She can also be found on the EquiNation App, available for download on Android or Apple