CommonWealth Saddles’  Simple Saddle Check

There are 4 important checks that you can easily perform on your own to determine whether your saddle generally fits your equine partner well.

    1. Wither Clearance: 3 to 4 fingers between the saddle and the spine, or 2 fingers if you’re in the saddle and not jumping high is acceptable.

    2. Spinal Clearance: A thumb or index finger on either side of the spine, in the gullet channel, touching the panels and the spine. Is it comfortable for your fingers to have the saddle pressure there? Are the panels soft enough? Are they too hard? If it isn’t comfortable for your fingers, it isn’t comfortable for your horse’s spine with the added weight of you in the saddle.

    3. Panel Contact: Are the panels and the shape of the tree even in contact throughout the horse’s back? Does your hand run flush at the same speed under the panels, or do you encounter “tight spots” = pressure points? Evenness is key in comfort, and keep in mind some horses lift more than others, so having a small amount of “bridging” can be okay occasionally, especially if your horse stands inverted but travels round. That’s why it’s always so important to do a motion and static fit!

    4. Tree points and panel pressure: Can you comfortably walk and or trot your horse around (only do this on safe horses, or ask your coach for assistance), with your fingers under the panels? Does it hurt? Does it feel too tight? Don’t think about it, just feel and respond. If you don’t think you could keep your fingers in there for the ride, it’s too tight/narrow in the tree. Alternatively, if it changes drastically as you post, your tree is likely too wide and you’ll see movement in the back of the saddle.

    5. Check your girths! Does your girth help or hinder your horse? Girthing is just as important as saddle fit – all the pressure you put on your horse’s back is translated to the sternum, so your girth should be a routine check. Girths should be comfortable – Rose’s choices are always wide to distribute pressure, shaped appropriately to be out of the way, and ALWAYS have double elastics. “I prefer sheepskin padded girths, and don’t like neoprene or any material that grabs the horse’s hair and skin too much. I want the horses comfortable!” A simple check, place 1 to 2 fingers under the whole girth, when it’s girthed up – can they stay there or is it too tight? Is there pressure evenly distributed? Find a good girth, it will help your horse.

    Fittings are always free for any saddle we carry.

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    Saturday, 9 a.m. — 5 p.m. MST
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