Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Western Saddle Position Question

Myhorsegenie sent the following question: ” I am only new to western riding and I am learning so much from your videos. Don't laugh but I have a really basic question: What is the correct position to put a western saddle on a horse? I also have a Standardbred who will lunge at people and other horses when tethered she doesn't appear to trust anyone, she is also very protective over her food. What can I do?”

Hey Horsegenie. The correct position or saddle fit on a horse is a great question. There are many issues to consider with saddle fit, among them:

The height of the horse’s withers and clearance of the gullet of the saddle - the clearance between the horse's withers and gullet of the saddle cannot be too narrow or too much clearance. Three fingers clearance would be generally appropriate.

The fit of, and the contact of the bars of the saddle in relation to the horse’s back - the bars of the saddle should contact the horse's and not create any pressure points nor rock (move).

The saddle position (contact of the bars of the saddle) in relation to the horse’s scapula - the saddle bars should not be placed where they contact the horse's scapula as this will wear on the horse and inhibit movement. The skirt of the saddle may extend over the scapula without causing problems, but even this would concern me.

The type and length of the cinch or front girth - most traditionalist's use Mohair cinches or the cotton rope cinches. Some use neoprene intended to inhibit the saddle from rolling. I like to use canvas cinches with a sheepskin lining. The cinch on most saddles will be in the space between the horse's barrel and armpit. Use of a rear cinch should be with a connector to keep the rear cinch from sliding backward as this often causes a horse to go to bucking.

I have very seldom tacked up and ridden a center rigged saddle such an an endurance saddle. So I can't offer any help there, but your question concerns western riding so I assumed a typical western saddle. I hope this and the video helps - let me know. Safe Journey Horsegenie.

I wrote a previous post on Saddle Fit here, which you want to review.

There are forms available for the rider to cast or replicate the horse’s back and have a saddle either made or selected to fit. Most people can’t afford to have a saddle made for each horse they ride, but there are some things they can do to ensure the best fit possible, and, ways to check to see if the saddle is causing the horse problems.

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