Dressage horse and rider

How To Choose Dressage Saddle For You?

For horse comfort and maximum performance, a properly fitted saddle is vital. Back pain can be a result of the saddle isn’t fitted properly. If the saddle isn’t correctly fit, the horse may have trouble moving his back. He may also develop stiffness and hollowness. The saddle needs to fit you too! You won’t be comfortable sitting in a straight, balanced position if your saddle makes you slide towards one side or causes you lean backwards. Although it is highly advised to get your saddle fitted by a skilled fitter, it may be helpful to understand the basics of how to put a saddle on. The Nine Fundamental Points of Saddle Fitting The Master Saddlers Association employs the nine fundamental points of saddle fitting when they train saddlers. The nine points are used as a basic checklist to identify a saddle’s suitability for a specific horse and rider. Before beginning your evaluation of the fitting of the saddle, ensure that the horse is straight on a level surface. Make use of a pad or cloth for your saddle. The saddle must fit your horse perfectly without padding.

Saddle should be placed on the central and the lowest part of horse back. Source: prestigeitaly.pl

Position of the saddle on a horse

Start by placing the saddle lightly on the back of the horse and slightly inward on the withers. Your left hand should be in front of your horse’s withers. Utilize your right hand to grasp the pommel, and then pull the saddle up and down. When the saddle is in right position, it should “lock in”. Repeat the procedure to ensure that the saddle stops in the same place every time. The saddle shouldn’t sit too far forward, as this could stop the horse’s shoulder from being able to move freely. His shoulder blade (scapula), which is the part of his back that is moved with the horse, could be moved backwards by as much as three inches. So that the horse can move around freely, the saddle position must be able to reach the shoulder. The saddle tree shouldn’t be too far behind the shoulder blade of the horse to ensure that they do not hinder his movements. The saddle tree must not be too big for the horse. It can cause discomfort as the horse advances with the rider.

Your saddle seat must be at an even level

After you have placed the saddle on the back of the horse properly, glance at the seat’s deepest space. The pommel at the front should be at the center of the back of the saddle and the cantle should be in the back. The seat should be level at its most deep point. This will allow you to sit comfortably and efficiently, without placing too much stress on the back of your horse. You’ll fall forward towards the pommel if the saddle’s centre point is too far to the left. Your natural response to correct that is to put a brace on your leg, making your aids less effective. If the highest point of your saddle is too far back you can slide backwards towards the cantle. This puts too excessive stress on the horse, which causes him discomfort. If you’re riding in a sitting trot, it is common for you to lean forward on your fork to ensure that you don’t feel like you’re being “left behind.” It is possible to adjust the panels by a professional saddle maker, provided that the horse’s saddle fits correctly.

The relation between pommel and cantle

The cantle of a saddle for dressage is usually higher than the pommel. The design of a dressage saddle takes into consideration the length of time a dressage rider sits. Additionally, the cantle should be formed to your anatomy. If the saddle tree is not enough for your horse your saddler might be able alter the level of the saddle to ensure it is more comfortable.

Clearance under the pommel

The saddle should provide enough clearance to the horse’s hindquarters to ensure that they don’t rub. Place one of your fingers perpendicularly to the ground. Slide it in between the pommel’s withers. It should be able to fit at minimum two or three fingers in the space. If the saddle tree is properly fitted the saddle fitter may include additional flocking to help balance the saddle to clear the withers.

Point angles

The points of a saddle tree determine its width and whether it fits correctly. The saddle tree point is situated just in front of and beneath the flaps of the saddle. The pocket appears to resemble an actual pocket. The points of the saddle are inside the pocket. Set the saddle on the horse. Look at the angle of each point relative to the horse’s. The points should be aligned with the back of the horse or within ten° of each other. If the angle of the saddle’s points is too steep, the tree is too narrow. If the angle of the saddle points is greater than the tree’s width, it is too narrow. A saddle tree that is too small for the horse could cause discomfort. It’s impossible to modify the saddle tree. If it doesn’t fit, you will need to replace the saddle.

Panel pressure

The saddle might appear to be a good fit, even though the rider isn’t inside the saddle. What happens when you push down on the panels. To ensure an evenly distributed weight distribution to ensure an even distribution of weight, the saddle panels should be as large as possible. Apply downward pressure to the saddle using your palm. Your other hand can be used to push downwards on the saddle. You can now move your hand along a length of the panel to feel for areas that the saddle isn’t touching the horse or putting pressure on it. Check both sides of the saddle. Horses don’t always look perfectly symmetrical. Ask your saddler if they are able to alter the flocking. A hand is placed on the pommel and and one on the cantle. Then you must move the saddle. If your saddle rocks backwards or forwards it could indicate that the flocking is uneven. A saddle tree that is not properly fitted could also trigger rocking.

Clearance of the gullet

Standing behind your horse, gaze down at the gullet in your saddle. The gullet should be covering the entire back and length of the horse without touching their backs. Then, put your weight onto the cantle. Take a second look. Sometimes horses that are asymmetrical and you place weight on the saddle, it can shift over onto the spine, creating discomfort for the horse. It can be corrected by adding flocking, or a balance strap to the saddle or changing the method of girth.

Saddle flaps projection

The saddle that carries your weight must be placed between the horse’s withers, at the point that the last rib joins the spine. If your saddle is too away from this point it will be resting on the lumbar region of your horse. This is the most vulnerable part of the back of the horse, and the pressure of the rider’s weight the area could cause injuries.

What happens when the horse is agitated

A saddle that fits properly and is comfortable will allow the horse to move around freely, without any signs of discomfort, like hollowing or swishing his tail. You should girth the saddle, but not use pads or cloths to cover it. This could cause you to be unable to assess the proper shape of your saddle. The elbow of the horse must be at least five inches lower than the girth of the saddle. Ask someone to mount you and test the fit of your saddle in the following manner: The pommel should be able to reach the miters by 2 to 3 fingers. If you’re viewing the saddle from behind, it’s important that the person on the ground can clearly see the entire length of the gullet. The saddle should be solid beneath your feet. You should feel balanced and not tipped either way or the other or trying to sit up straight. Start training your horse the same way you would normally. The horse should to move freely, show no signs of tension, and should be calm.

How should the saddle fit to you?

Once you have figured out how the saddle should fit you, you’ll have to ensure it fits properly for you! Dressage riders must be in a neutral, deep position, while maintaining a good balance. A quality dressage saddle should be able to: A deep seat Straight, long flaps Thigh blocks Long girth straps There are a variety of dressage saddles available, therefore it is important to choose the right one for you. It is possible that you prefer a deeper seat and big knee blocks. A seat that is shallower with smaller blocks that are more comfortable could be a good fit for you. It is possible to choose a narrower or wider saddle that is a good fit for your body. The saddle should be equipped with stirrup bars that permit your leg to naturally fall off your hip. Extra-long girth straps for dressage saddles should be placed above the saddle flap so the buckles do not interfere with the rider’s leg’s contact with the horse’s barrel.

If a dressage saddle doesn’t fit you

There are a few indicators that suggest that you are in the wrong dressage horse. You feel as if you’re tipped ahead It’s as if you’re tipped backwards You can slide from cantle to pommel (seat is too big) Your seat will spill from the saddle’s (seat isn’t big enough). As the flaps that cover your saddle on your legs are long, you have difficulty providing leg support. The flaps on the saddle catch the tops of your shoes (flaps aren’t long enough). Your leg is high enough that it feels like you are sitting on the saddle. You and your horse should always be at ease in the saddle. If the saddle doesn’t fit your horse, it’s useless! Mounting correctly A wrongly mounted saddle tree can lead to numerous saddle trees to be damaged. Always mount from a mounting block and never on the ground unless there is no other alternative. By using the cantle to leverage, riders able to mount from the ground will be able get themselves in the saddle. This will eventually twist the saddle tree. Girths The girth of dressage saddles is determined by the length of the billet. Short girths are preferred by dressage horses. A girth that is short is one in which the buckles, as well as other bulky parts is placed directly on the body of the horse instead of under your thighs. Long girths create bulk underneath your legs, and are uncomfortable. Short girth fitting You must place the buckles at the horse’s elbow when choosing a shorter length girth. You should use the shortest possible length of the girth. The closer your girth is to the tree, the more unstable your connection to it. It is recommended to use a saddle pad if you have an girth. The saddle pad must fit between your girth and your fingers. Long girth fitting A long girth should be placed below your knee, around three or two holes from each end of the billet. Long girths provide better stability. The buckles that sit too high on your billets when the girth is greater than 30 inches, can interfere with your leg position and reduce the stability of your legs.

Horse girth fastening
Groom saddling a horse and tighten the girth.

How tight should the girth be?

Make sure you tighten the girth correctly. If the girth has been positioned properly, you’ll be capable of sliding the flat of your hand beneath it either side. You should be able to give a polite handshake but not a squeezing. If the girth is set correctly, it will sit perfectly in the middle, with the buckles in the same position on each side. Adjust your girth slowly, instead of increasing it abruptly. Tighten the girth one hole at a time, gradually working your way up until the girth is tight enough. Your horse will tense his ribcage when you increase the girth. Once your horse has been relaxed, it is probable that you’ll need to raise his girth another time. It is also possible to damage your saddle tree if you have a tight girth. Let’s close. A lot of horses struggle or exhibit resistance due to the discomfort caused by an ill-fitting saddle. The saddle may become looser or looser according to how the flocking changes. A qualified saddler can adjust this, and it’s worth having your saddle inspected regularly to ensure that there aren’t any pressure points. It is necessary to replace your saddle tree if it is too small or too tall for your horse. Be sure to are riding a saddle that fits your horse fitted by a skilled, experienced saddle fitter. We’d like to hear about your saddle-fitting stories and suggestions. Send them to us in the comments box below.

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