When Should I Get My New Horse Saddle Fitted?

If you're a horse enthusiast, getting a new saddle can be an exciting prospect. Whether you're upgrading your equipment or getting your first saddle, ensuring it fits your horse properly is paramount for both the horse's comfort and your performance. But when exactly should you get your new horse saddle fitted? Let's delve into the details.

The Importance of a Properly Fitted Saddle
Before we discuss timing, let's understand why a properly fitted saddle is crucial. A well-fitted saddle distributes the rider's weight evenly over the horse's back, preventing discomfort and potential injury. An ill-fitted saddle can cause pain, restrict movement, and lead to long-term issues like soreness, muscle atrophy, and even behavioral problems in horses.

1. Before Purchase
If you're buying a new horse, consider the saddle before the horse. It's easier to find the right saddle for your horse than to find the right horse for your saddle. Ideally, work with a professional saddle fitter or a knowledgeable seller who can help you choose a saddle that matches your horse's conformation, size, and discipline requirements.

2. Upon Purchase
Once you've purchased your new saddle, it's time to assess the fit. Even if the saddle is brand new, it doesn't automatically mean it fits perfectly. Check for signs of a good fit:

Wither Clearance: Ensure there's enough clearance over the withers. You should be able to slide your hand between the withers and the pommel without excessive pressure.
Panel Contact: The panels should make even contact along the horse's back without rocking or bridging. Uneven contact can create pressure points and discomfort.
Gullet Width: The gullet should be wide enough to avoid pinching the horse's spine, but not so wide that it sits too low.
Saddle Stability: The saddle should sit stable on the horse's back without sliding forward, backward, or side to side.

3. Regularly, Especially for Young Horses
Young horses undergo significant changes in body shape as they mature, particularly in the first few years. Their backs develop muscle, and their conformation can change. Therefore, it's essential to check the saddle fit regularly, especially during the first few years of the horse's life.

4. Seasonal Changes
Horses' bodies can change with the seasons due to changes in diet, exercise, and even climate. They may gain or lose weight, develop or lose muscle, and change shape. Consequently, what fits well in summer might not fit as well in winter, and vice versa. Regularly assess the saddle fit to accommodate these changes.

 5. After Significant Milestones
Any significant changes in your horse's life may affect their body shape and thus the saddle fit. This includes changes in training intensity, changes in the rider's weight or riding style, or even recovering from an injury. After such milestones, reassess the saddle fit to ensure it's still appropriate.

In conclusion, getting your new horse saddle fitted is a crucial step in ensuring your horse's comfort and well-being. Whether you're purchasing a new saddle or have had one for a while, regular checks are necessary to accommodate changes in your horse's body. Working with a professional saddle fitter is highly recommended to ensure the best fit for your horse. Remember, a happy horse makes for a happy ride!