Saddle Fitting Procedure
When you are booking an appointment, be prepared to give all the necessary information. This must include your horse's name, breed/type, age, relevant physical or medical history and previous saddle fitting problems. If you are visiting the saddler, ensure you know exactly where to go and make sure you arrive in good time so as not to inconvenience other customers. If the saddler is coming to you, give accurate and precise directions and be ready at the appointed time for exactly the same reason.
All this information is vital to build up a picture of the horse. Age, either young or old is important, in both cases the saddle fitter will want to take into account any possible future changes in your horse's shape, although I need to stress to that the priority is to equip the horse with the best possible fit on the day. Qualified saddle fitters take records and templates each time they see the horse. These are filed safely to monitor any changes and build up a vital record over time.
Young horses are likely to change as they mature and are schooled in regular routine; their shape change considerably and the saddle will have to be altered to accommodate these changes. Older horses tend to drop away no matter how well they are managed. The saddle fitter will try to allow for as much flexibility in line with these changes.
Describe the wither type whether it is long, high like that of a thoroughbred, or almost flat and broad like that of a cob shape. If you're not sure, seek advice from an experienced person like your instructor or trainer. Also, advise your saddler of your riding discipline and preferences so that you get the correct design of saddle and one that is suited to your purpose.
It's important to say how fit your horse is as it's preferable to fit a saddle when a horse is at its optimum fitness for the work required; this depends the discipline and competition level. You may find that you have to delay the fitting if your horse is either very fat and needs to be fitter or if the horse is thin and needs have condition put on. However, in some circumstances it maybe necessary to do a fitting immediately, in which case the rider must realise that the saddle will require major adjustments as the horse's shape changes and in some cases it might be necessary to change the saddle altogether.
You saddler should know the rider's height, weight and age. This is because the physique must be taken into consideration so that you are as comfortable as possible. Young riders, who are still growing, ideally need a saddle to accommodate this for as long as possible. Older riders may find difficulty in mounting if the cantle is too high.
Ideally, it is one horse, one rider, one saddle. But we don't live in an ideal world and when this is not possible it becomes necessary to compromise. To ensure the best compromise, provide your saddle fitter with details of all the riders.
You may have a preference as to the type and make of saddle that you want to purchase, but you should be aware that this may not be suitable for your horse. Be prepared to listen to the saddle fitter's advice, they have the knowledge and expertise plus your horses best interest at heart. After all, you have taken the trouble to find a qualified saddle fitter, so it makes sense to take their advice!
You may want to purchase a second-hand saddle. Bear in mind that it will have adapted to the contours and idiosyncrasies of the horse on which it was previously used. Even when it provides a good basic fit it may require adjustment or a complete re-flock and your budget will need to allow for this.
Finally, be aware that a professional saddle fitter will firstly provide a saddle that fits and suits your horse to provide him with maximum comfort, a comfortable and happy horse is a joy to ride, whereas an uncomfortable horse is unhappy and much less fun. The rider's comfort is always the secondary, but is something a good saddle fitter will always be conscious of.
We look forward to hearing from you soon