Dress to impress... but comfort is critical
When choosing a saddle for your horse, there’s admittedly a lot to consider. For your horse, having a proper, comfortable fit that doesn't hinder the horse's natural movement and being able to notice cues from the rider are of utmost importance. For the rider, comfort and a steady seat, balance throughout maneuvers, and more practical considerations – such as longevity, ease of care, and price of the saddle – all are included in purchase decisions. And then there’s the discipline to keep in mind, as your saddle style, color, and accessories may vary based on the level of competition and class types, and even your region of the country or certainly country of competition will influence the typical tack expectations.
In addition, as your horse changes body condition, develops or loses muscle or topline, changes skeleton shape due to growth, or has natural changes due to the aging process, saddle fit must be reconsidered to ensure the horse is still comfortable throughout these transitions. Going into competition season is a great time to evaluate your saddle fit, and having a well-fitting saddle can make a differences in range of motion, relaxation of your horse, ease of maneuvers, and long-term comfort and recovery from day-to-day.
Let’s explore properly fitting saddles for the horse in both Western and English disciplines - as this is the most important for horse health and setting the stage for a successful ride - by bringing in industry experts in equine extension for tips to assess your saddle's fit and some common concerns with improper fit.