Make sure your saddle fits (Part 3)

An indispensable guide to finding a saddle that fits your horse prepared by horse, rider and saddle fitting expert, Ken Lyndon Dykes.

Saddle fitting checks
Every Qualified Saddle Fitter for the Society of Master Saddlers goes through a standard series of tests with every horse, every saddle they assess on a horse and every new saddle they fit to a horse. Ken shows how it is done.

Examining the horse's back
When a saddle fitter first comes to a horse's yard, he or she will examine the horse's back thoroughly to see if there are any problems. "It's not because we're vets but in our own area we know what we are talking about in the same way as if you want to know anything about the knee down, talk to a farrier." says Ken.


First he checks the spine with the tips of his fingers not fingernails looking for any areas of discomfort which the horse shows by moving from his fingertips.


He checks for problems in the sacroiliac area by lightly pressing the gluteus medius muscle on the rump over the point of the hip.


He checks the muscles of the back - the latissimus dorsi - as far as the 18th rib, the area where the saddle will sit.


Standing directly behind the horse, he checks the shoulders to see if they are a matching pair the horse needs to be standing properly for this with both its front feet together. As you can see, this horse has one shoulder bigger than the other!


Examining the saddle off the horse Ken makes sure that the saddle is symmetrical and checks the tree is sound by flexing the saddle towards himself. (right)


Next instalment: 7 Vital Checks

Part 1  Part 2