How to Fit a Saddle to a Horse

When the saddle is placed on the back of a horse, it should sit more or less level. Let the saddle sit where it wants to. That is to say, place it up toward the wither and slide it down to where it falls naturally, which is where it will probably end up anyway once you start to ride. The seat panels should rest on the fleshy muscles located on either side of the spine. It should be wide enough to not pinch the shoulders and high enough at the withers so two or three fingers can be placed between pommel and withers.

Saddle Pad

It is recommended that a pad be used between the saddle and the horse's back to keep the sweat off the leather of the saddle. There is also the benefit of some padding for the horse. Many styles are quilted, which offer a good cushion between saddle and horse. There are even materials like gel pads that have shock absorption ability. Other available materials are cloth, rubber, and sheepskin, to name a few. A pad must not wrinkle under the saddle and should extend beyond the saddle on all sides.

If you get thrown from your horse, you must fall clear of him. Shoes with smooth soles and heels are recommended for riding for just this reason: in the event of a fall, your foot doesn't get caught in or through the stirrup.

Stirrups and Leathers

The stirrup leathers and stirrups are sold separately. Leathers come in different sizes and widths. Stirrups have a few styles and should be large enough to leave an inch of room on either side of the foot. Fully enclosed stirrups can be dangerous in the event that you become unseated from the horse and your foot gets caught. Safety stirrups have an easily breakable rubber band, rather than metal, enclosing the outside of the stirrup.

The Girth

The girth secures the saddle on the horse by wrapping around her barrel and attaching to each side of the saddle. It can be leather, mohair, plastic, rope, or neoprene. Girths are a matter of preference, although some are thought to chafe less.

Girths are sold in various sizes. Forty inches is the average size for a large pony, forty-eight inches for the average horse, and fifty to fifty-two inches for the large warm bloods.

Some professionals recommend tightening your girth over the first few minutes of your ride for the sake of your horse's comfort. However, if your horse spooks or misbehaves before your girth is tight, your saddle could slip and you will fall off the horse.

Saddling the Horse

A saddle pad should be placed over a clean back, taking care that the pad is smooth. The saddle is then lifted and placed over the back, and allowed to settle in the natural depression of the horse's back. Make sure the stirrups are not dangling when you do this. If your pad has straps, they can now be attached to the billet straps located beneath the saddle flap. Next, the girth is attached on the off or right side of the horse. If your girth has one side that is elasticized, the elastic should end up on the left side where you will secure and adjust the girth. The girth should be securely but not tightly fastened. Instead the girth should be gradually tightened over a few minutes to avoid making the horse uncomfortable.

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