A saddle is an important part of your riding experience. But, to get the most out of your saddle, you need to find one that fits both you and your horse. This can be a really challenging process! So I thought I’d make it a little easier for you, and teach you how to measure for a saddle.
Most commonly, problems with saddle fit arise because measurements weren’t taken properly.
Any mistake in measuring process can lead to discomfort or injury for you or your horse. In spite of that, measuring is not a difficult process and you don’t need any expert skills.
To get the correct measurement for your saddle, the best and easiest option is that you measure your old saddle first. Note all the measurements, write them down and then buy the new one according to that.
But if your horse is still growing, as your horse grows it will change shape and size. Just like we humans grow and the size of our clothes changes, similarly the size of a saddle changes as the horse grows.
Another case is that if this is a new horse and you don’t have an old saddle, then you will definitely have to do some measuring. So let’s dive into it!
Know what you’re looking for? You can jump ahead to these sections:
- Measuring the rider
- How to measure the horse – back length
- How to measure the horse – back width
- Checking you got it right
Measuring the rider
A perfect saddle is one that easily fits the rider as well as the horse. As I have already mentioned that finding a perfect saddle that fits you and your horse isn’t easy, but it’s not rocket science either.
I’m focusing on proper fit again and again because if you do not pay attention and take bad measurements, you can harm yourself and your horse.
Okay. I’ve scared you enough. Let’s start learning how to measure the rider for a saddle.
Really it comes down to your thigh measurements. For this measurement, you want to start at the base of your buttock and go down to your knee. The size of your thighs shows you what size of a saddle that you will need.
This chart shows the size of a saddle that you will need:
|Your Thigh||Size of saddle|
|Less than 16.5 inches||15 inches|
|16.5 to 18.0 inches||16 inches|
|18.5 to 19.5 inches||16.5 inches|
|20.0 to 21.0 inches||17 inches|
|21.5 to 22.5 inches||17.5 inches|
|More than 23 inches||18 to 20 inches|
How to measure the horse – back length
The size of a saddle depends on the size of your horse, particularly the length of its back.
To measure your horse’s back, follow the steps below:
- Start measuring from the shoulder blade. To locate that, lift up one of your horse’s front legs, and note where the shoulder’s bulge appears. Note that point and for convenience mark it with washable chalk.
- Now locate your horse’s last rib. Move your hand gently along your horse’s back. You should be able to feel pretty easily where the bottom of the ribcage is. Note the point and mark it with washable chalk.
- Now take the measuring tape and set it 1 1/2 inches away from the shoulder blade (to the side, away from the head of the horse). Then measure the distance between your two chalked points. Voila!
How to measure the horse – back width
The last step is to measure the width of your horse’s back. To do this, you will need a flexible piece of wire, and to follow these steps:
- Find the shoulder blade of your horse and move your finger slightly below to it, about 1-2 inches.
- Place the wire over the top of your horse’s back. Make sure it extends equally on both sides with its center on your horse’s spine.
- Slightly shape the wire to fit your horse’s back, marking the points below its shoulder blades. Then lift the wire off carefully.
- Measure the width between the two ends without disturbing the shape of the wire.
This measurement will give the correct size for your saddle that you will need.
Now (believe it or not) you do not have to measure anything else. That’s really all it takes to measure your horse for a saddle!
Congratulations! You made it
Now, either give this measurement to a saddle maker and get the perfect saddle for your horse, or match the measurements to pre-made saddles available online.
Please note that this process seems very easy to do. However, the truth is, though it is not too difficult to learn how to measure for a saddle, it is very important that you take extra care while taking these measurements.
A properly fitting saddle is very important to keep your horse happy.
Improper saddle fit affects the performance of your horse. It also makes the horse feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, the rider won’t even realize that the saddle is not a good fit for the horse until something goes badly wrong.
Check down the line – did you get it right?
Now, you must be wondering – how can you tell if the saddle fits the horse properly or not?
There are some key indicators. The first is bad performance. Maybe your horse just isn’t cantering or jumping the way you expect – your saddle could be the culprit. But other signs include pulled rails, fussiness, and a wringing tail.
You shouldn’t ignore these signs.
A tighter or shorter saddle will not be comfortable for the horse and will affect his skin and health. A very loose saddle will not keep its position and slip to left or right and you and the horse might get injured.
Want to learn more?
Once you’ve bought your saddle, you need to keep it in pristine condition. Learn here how to clean your saddle. If you’re looking for a good saddle soap, I recommend both a hard soap and a liquid soap.
If you’re still keen for more saddle content, here’s an interesting video on how saddles are made:
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