English Saddle Fitting Guidelines

For all English Riidng disciplines, one must ensure a well-fitting saddle to enable your horse

freedom of movement. And remember— not only should you check a riding saddle that you're

considering for purchase, you should check the way your saddle fits your horse.

How to Check the Fit of a Saddle

Here are some guidelines to help you make a basic assessment about how a saddle fits your horse. To begin, ask your horse to stand squarely on level

1. Position the saddle correctly on your horse's back, WITHOUT A SADDLE PAD. Place the

saddle slightly forward on your horse's withers, then slide it backward so that it stops at the nat-

ural resting place as dictated by his conformation. Be certain of the spot where the saddle repeatedly

stops. This spot should locate the saddle behind your horse's shoulder blades. 

Note: Many people place saddles too far forward on the withers. When a rider's weight is then

added to the saddle, the points of the saddle tree located on each side of the pommel press

on the horse's shoulder blades, where they can hinder movement or cause pain. 

2. Test wither clearance. 

If the saddle you're trying is used or has synthetic or foam panels, you should be able to slide

 to three fingers between the pommel of the saddle and your horse's withers. If its a new

saddle with wool-stuffed panels, it may settle as much as one-half inch as the wool compresses

and molds to your horse. Therefore, you could consider three or even four fingers as acceptable. 

3. Check the relationship of the pommel to the cantle. 

Look at the saddle from a side view. Imagine a straight line drawn parallel to the ground and

stretching from the pommel to the cantle. In a dressage saddle, the point of the cantle is designed

to be higher than the point of the pommel—maybe a couple of inches higher—so your imaginary

line should hit the cantle at such a point that there is space above the line. 

Note: that in shallower seats such as those used for jumping, the cantle may be designed to be

level with or just barely higher than the pommel. If this may be the case with your saddle, rely

more heavily on other checks to determine proper saddle fit. 

English Saddle Fitting Guidelines

No matter what your riding discipline is, a well-fitting saddle enables your horse's natural freedom

of movement. It also helps you find a correct or more effective riding position. Because saddle fit

is so crucial, consider contacting a professional saddle fitter for assistance after using these

guidelines, or at the very least get a second opinion from your horse's trainer, veterinarian or