top of page
Harry Dabbs Saddles Saddle4You

Saddle Fitting

Tips & Advice

Our number one tip!

The best piece of advice we can give you is to always get your saddle professional fitted by a qualified and experienced Saddle Fitter - whether the saddle is new or secondhand.


Saddle Fitters are trained and experienced in seeing things that riders often don't and we can ensure the comfort of both you and your horse. You wouldn't want to run or dance in badly fitting shoes, a saddle is no different for your horse or pony. 

If you are happy with the basic fit of the saddle on the horse, then try riding in it to assess how it fits you.  but most of all you and your horse should feel relaxed and comfortable in the saddle.

The more experienced horse owner may now be confident that the saddle fits, but Saddle4You always advises that you firstly read our SADDLE FITTING & ESSENTIAL GUIDE for more in depth advice and secondly but most importantly that you contact your local professional Saddle Fitter for professional advice.


Saddle4You offer all saddle fitting advice as a guide only, and in no way should this advice act as a guarantee that the saddle you purchase will fit your horse. It is the customer and rider's responsibility to ensure correct fit through a professional Saddle Fitter. No responsibility will be taken if a saddle causes subsequent damage to your horse. 

Understanding of the horse's anatomy and the structure of a saddle

Saddle Fitting Graphic Saddle4You
Saddle Fitting Graphic Saddle4You
Saddle Fitting Graphic Saddle4You

Saddle fitting & ongoing care tips:

  • Your saddle, new or second-hand, should be fitted by a Saddle Fitter. Their first consideration should always be the horse. This may mean that you need to adjust any preconceived ideas you may have about your own preferences in relation to make and design.


  • If you MUST use a numnah or gel pad the saddle fitter must be informed and always before the saddle is fitted. Adding a numnah under a saddle which fits well without can be like putting thick insoles into shoes that fit perfectly without them.

  • Each horse should have its own saddle. Just as a pair of shoes adapts to the wearer's foot, so the saddle adopts the contours of the horse. Ill advised riders use one saddle on several horses without pausing to consider possible consequences.

  • It may be possible to adjust your existing saddle to fit your new horse - but the advice of a qualified saddle fitter should always be sought.

  • Your horse changes shape regularly. The frequency of these changes will relate to his age, training, management and so on. Try to develop an eye to recognise these changes. Viewed on a daily basis, the changes may seem inconsequential but over a period of just a week or so they can be surprisingly substantial. Have your saddle checked - and any necessary adjustments made - regularly.

  • 'Feed' your saddle carefully. Insufficiently treated the leather will dry out. Feed too much, the dressing will not be absorbed and the saddle will be unpleasantly sticky - possibly marking your clothes, or worse, causing the saddle stitching to rot. The regularity with which the saddle requires 'dressing' relates to usage, weather conditions and so on.

  • The young horse must be fitted especially carefully. His - or her back is 'virgin territory' and very precious. Great care must be taken to avoid any damage that may cause problems later in life. Young horses should never be lunged in any old saddle ('it doesn't matter - no-one is going to ride in it'!). The young back is particularly vulnerable and a swinging/bouncing saddle that doesn't fit anyway - and may even be damaged - can be the cause of veterinary problems that may be irreversible. Recognise, too, that some young horses develop at a substantial rate and the saddle that fitted well only a short time previously may need adjustment.

  • Unlevelness, even slight, in your horse's gait - especially behind - can cause the saddle to move/swing or bounce thus possibly exacerbating the existing problem.

  • Mounting from a mounting block should not be restricted to the less-than-athletic! It is infinitely better for the horse's back and guards against the saddle tree becoming twisted - quite easy to happen if the saddle is regularly used as a lever.

  • When mounting the rider's weight should always be lowered gently into the saddle - never 'thump' or 'bang' down onto the horse!

  • If you insist on mounting from the ground be aware that the stirrup leathers should be changed from side to side regularly to avoid the near-side leather becoming longer/stretched. Avoid this where possible as it can end up twisting your saddle, put pressure on one side and eventually make the flock uneven!

  • Saddles should be carefully stored on a well-made saddle horse or rack. A pole rack is preferred as wire shaped racks can cause dents in the soft flock of the panel. Never position saddles where they can be knocked off the rack. Appreciate that lifting a saddle onto a very high rack can damage your own back - and often results in the saddle being stored lop-sidedly.

  • Great attention must always be played to the condition of the saddle flocking. Irregular/uneven/lumpy flocking can cause pressure points that may seriously damage the horse's back. Severe irregularity in the flocking can cause the saddle to sit to one side. Correct flocking provides a cushioning effect that helps to reduce trauma. Over stuffed, the saddle will be hard, will not adapt to the horse's back and may cause pressure sores or sensitivity.

  • The saddle must always be level when viewed from the side. Anything else compromises the horse's comfort and welfare. 'Up-hill' the rider will sit too far back. 'Down-hill the rider will be encouraged onto the fork.

  • When viewed from the front and rear the saddle gullet must always provide adequate clearance - both before and after the horse is exercised.

  • It is important to ask the saddler to check any saddle in use when a horse falls. 'Hidden' damage may be substantial - broken/cracked trees can be difficult to detect. Likewise, if the saddle falls from the saddle rack or is dropped it should be checked over by a qualified saddler.

  • The size of the stirrup irons should be checked when a different rider exercises the horse. Irons that are either too small or too large can be the cause of serious accidents, unless using safety stirrups which we recommend.

  • Weak or defective stitching on any part of the saddle should be repaired immediatley. Saddles should be checked every time they are used; equal attention should be paid to girths and leathers.

bottom of page