You need the Farrier to maintain your horses feet as they grow and change every 6 – 8 weeks!  This gives you an idea how things can quickly change.  The checking of your saddle, tack, you as a rider and checking your horse is all part of a saddle fit as all have an impact on each other, which is why an overall holistic approach to assessing all of these factors is so important..

“Many years ago I gave one of my horses that was in full time work the weekend off, I was stunned on my return just 3 days later how much he had lost tone in his muscles, this was one of those light bulb moments of how change in routine can have a huge impact!” – Sam

You are fully accountable for your horse to get his or her saddle checked regularly.  The season, age, training method, injuries, your own fitness, or even a change in the herd dynamics or livery yard can be of influence when assessing saddle fit.  Every situation is unique but very important to keep both you and your horse safe and comfortable.

Do you feel a little tipped forward or backwards, do you get back ache?
The solution could be that your saddle needs re-balancing.  This is done by assessing your saddle on your horse and additional wool flocking added to your saddle to make adjustments as required, ie if the saddle is tipping forward it could need some additional flocking in the front.  There can be other reasons one being the saddle is too wide which is why the saddle must be checked by a professional saddle fitter.

Has your saddle begun moving backwards?
A top up of wool flocking in your saddle throughout the whole of the saddle panels which are the part of the saddle closest to the horse maybe all that is required.

Is your horse hollowing (dropping his back and raising his head) in his or her work?
The panels underneath the saddle may be lumpy and causing pressure points directly to your horses back.  Overtime the flocking in the saddle panels can ball up causing this.  It is made more uncomfortable when the girth is done up and again when the rider is on board.  If these lumps cannot be dispersed easily a total reflock is required, this means your saddle to be taken apart, all the wool flocking to be removed, new put in and stitched back together.

A lot of issues can normally be rectified easily by booking a saddle fitting appointment.

If you are interested in buying a brand new or second hand saddle we have a wide range available in General Purpose, Dressage, Jumping, Event, Showing, Working Hunter aswell as pony pads.

“Thank you Sam for visiting my youngster for saddle fitting yesterday, I was really impressed with the way that you treated us both and you kind manner even though he was being impatient and fidgeting. Many thanks again for all your advice much appreciated all being well we will see you in 6 months!
S Hume, Lincolnshire.

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Let’s talk about why you need your saddle fitted

Horses come in all shapes and sizes which is why saddles do to.  It is so very important to get the right match.  Stand a couple of metres away from the side of your horse and look at the silhouette of your horses spine, then have a look at another horse type, there can be a noticeable difference.

Atinada  Gypsy  High Withered

Now standing safely behind your horse and look either side of the withers, observe how wide your horse is.  Compare with another horse there can be a vast difference.

Take into account the type of work the horse is doing, for example is he in competition training or perhaps a happy hacker as his musculature will be very different.

“Very pleased today because my asymmetric horse’s back templates were all even! Other saddlers that I have used in the past have not been able to achieve this particularly in such a short time. Also my elderly horse had a new lease of life and moved well in his adjusted saddle.”
– C Sharp, Lincolnshire.

When to have your saddle checked.

Recent research has been carried out by the Animal Health Trust that saddles ideally should be checked every 2-3 months due to the amount of changes that occur with the horse, rider and saddle, therefore definitely twice a year, at worst once a year!

Is your saddle balanced?

This can have a detrimental effect on your horse and effect you and your riding including giving you backache, it could be that the points of the tree could be driving into the shoulders of your horse or the weight at the back could cause a restriction of circulation.  This can more than often be resolved by adjusting with flocking.

Is there unevenness on the underneath of the panels or even lumps?

This again is cause for concern as this could be causing discomfort and pressure points either side of your horses spine.  This can be easily resolved by a total reflock of the saddle, which basically means the saddle being taken apart, all the old flocking removed and replaced with new, the saddle stitched back together again, resulting in a happy and comfortable horse.

When was your saddle last serviced!

A total reflock should include a full service for your saddle to be checked internally for any damage, checking of the tree, rivets, nails, staples, girthing, springs etc and for the leather to be treated internally.

Have a look at the photos below from left to right, the first photo the panel stitching has worn and broken, the second photo you can see how much debris, dust and hair can collect, the third you can just see above the red gullet bar in the middle a crack meaning this saddle is no longer useable, the fourth is a gullet bar that has rusted which can prevent changing the gullet bar!

You Are Accountable!

In a moment I am going to reveal to you six important errors horseowners make when they own or buy a saddle.  But first, When you look at a saddle its the outside of the saddle you see yet the inside is of upmost importance!

The saddle tree can be considered the skeleton of the saddle and must have some elasticity to help disperse the rider’s weight over the horse’s back.  The tree has many components which at times due to wear and tear can become weakened, damaged or at worst break!  It is your responsibility to ensure that the inside of the saddle is checked regularly.

With accessories, remember sweat is acidic and if we put a saddle cloth on the horse under the saddle with wet sweat, this will cause friction and burns the horses hair, think of it like putting on wet socks and going out for a run.  It at worst you leave this sweat to dry which will become hard and dirty this will be even more detrimental for your horse.  The same can be said for girth covers.

Which leads me onto bulky horsewear under the saddle. If your saddle fits well beware of putting very thick numnahs or saddle cloths between the saddle and your horse. This can replicate how it would feel putting on a pair of perfectly fitting shoes but wearing woolly socks.  There are occasions where additional padding maybe required but you must check this with your saddle fitter as the last thing you want to do is make the saddle feel narrower for your horse and impinge movement!

“Sam. You are lovely, patient and honest. Great with both the horse and people. Spent way to much of your time! We are so happy that Gavin has a lovely well fitting saddle. So now we can happily get on and get him broken in happy in the knowledge that if we have issues at least it won’t be the saddle.  Thank you again…will definitely recommend you.  Very happy customers.”
A Searle, Cambridgeshire

The Six Errors

First Error

Putting the saddle to far forward onto the shoulders

Has the potential of damaging the cartilage, chipping Cartiladge of the shoulder blade and causing a criss cross effect at the back of the saddle across your horses spine.

Second Error

Girths with elastic on one side

Causes uneven pressure and movement.  Should be at both ends or in the middle of the girth or no elastic at all. The elastic should not give too much to prevent movement of the saddle.

Third Error

Buying a cheap new saddle

Most likely bad quality, not symmetrical and panels filled with newspaper, old rags, used medical wastage.  Trees can be made out of old pallets.  Potentially damaging to you and your horse!

Fourth Error

Buying a saddle without having it fitted by a Saddle Fitter

The saddle maybe the correct width but the wrong type of tree.  Saddle Fit can be very different once the girth is fastened, the horse starts moving and when the rider is on board.

Fifth Error

Failing to book follow up appointment

After purchasing a new saddle you must book a follow up appointment for re-balancing once the flocking has bedded down and moulded to your horse.  Your horses welfare is your responsibility, nobody elses!

Sixth Error

Crooked riding effecting saddle and your horse

Not realising or fully understanding how much crooked and/or unbalanced riding can effect both the saddle and your horse.  It is your responsibility to improve this, seek help and improve your riding.

“Cannot recommend Sam highly enough I run a busy competition yard Showjumping and Showing producing young horses. Her knowledge whether it be saddle fitting or dealing with loading difficulties is not only professional but with welfare of the horse is 110% her only priority. With a massive range of second hand saddles and her own range there is something for every budget. Her own range of tack is designed with comfort of the horse foremost and made to the highest standards. For a professional friendly and informative service give Sam a call you will not be disappointed.”
– S Eldred, Cambridgeshire.