Buying A Horse Saddle
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a horse saddle. Primary among them is selecting a saddle that fits both rider and horse. An ill-fitting saddle can cause pressure points that will cause your horse discomfort. A horse that can move comfortably is a happier horse who will work for you.
The parts of a saddle Determine the size of the rider Saddles are typically classified in sizes ranging from 16” to 18” and larger. Those sizes are based on the tree size of the saddle. The saddle tree raises the rider above the horse’s back and distributes the rider’s weight on either side of the horse’s spine, greatly reducing the force directed on the horse’s back. Saddle manufacturers traditionally use wood trees though some, such as Wintec and Bates, have developed synthetic trees that offer greater stability and strength. The tree size is the distance from the Saddle Nail to the center top of the Cantle.
In general, tree sizes below 17” are for junior riders and small adults. Most adults fall in the 17” – 17.5” size range, while larger adults will size 18” or larger. Another tip for measuring the rider is to sit in a position so that the rider’s upper leg is at a right-angle to their lower leg, then measure the upper leg length from the back of the buttock to the tip of the knee. This measurement will correspond to the saddle tree size. Determine the size of the horse As mentioned, an ill-fitting saddle can cause your horse great discomfort. The points of the saddle should sit an inch or two behind the shoulder blade so there is no restriction when in movement. There should be at least two fingers’ width clearance between the horse’s withers and the front arch of the saddle, including when the rider is sitting in t he saddle.
There must be full clearance between the central gullet of the saddle — the piece of leather that runs the length of the underside of the saddle — and the horse’s spine. Pressure here may not only cause discomfort, it can also lead to damage to the horse’s vertebrae. Saddle Care Make sure the saddle flocking — the material in the panels — remains soft and smooth since this is what provide the cushion between horse and rider. If the flocking forms lumps or become uneven, you will want to take it to a qualified saddler for correction. Many saddles use latex foam for flocking and this material retains its shape.
Wintec and Bates saddles employ the CAIR system which uses air to fill the panels and does not require any maintenance. Keep your saddle, girth and straps supple by treating them with a leather soap and conditioner. When storing your saddle, use a quality saddle rack and store it in a cool, slightly moist place. Dry air can cause the leather to stiffen and crack. Finally, if you have a fall, check that the saddle tree has not sustained any damage. A fractured or broken tree will affect the fit of your saddle and may cause harm to your horse.