May 29, 2014

How To Choose Your Saddle

There are few activities that offer the same sense of fun and freedom as horse riding. At some stage, if you rent or own a horse (or take riding lessons), you will have to consider which equipment to use. Undoubtedly, horse saddles are vital pieces of equipment. Often, both experienced and novice riders struggle to find a leather seat that suits their needs and the needs of their horse. A badly fitting saddle might damage the health of the horse or rider. Also, it could make the animal or rider feel uncomfortable, and hinder their performance.

Happily, there are numerous generic saddles on the market that will suit most horses. Unless you ride an unusually shaped horse, you will discover that most of these leather seats fit comfortably. Frequently, riders use the same saddles on several different horses. Consequently, it is best for riders to choose generic seats that are primarily comfortable for them.

Prior to fitting their horses, some riders sit in a few different saddles at equestrian supply stores. These supply stores have charts displaying the recommended saddle measurements for different weights and heights. Consult this chart to find your weight and height, and you will see the measurement that is best for you. Some supply stores allow you to take saddles home for at least twenty-four hours, to ensure that they feel and fit right.

Saddles should fit smoothly and evenly on the backs of horses. They should fall behind the shoulder bones and clear the withers, so the animals have a full range of motion. Bridging is a problem that you may encounter when making your selection. This is where the leather seat is too long or flat to stay on the horse’s back. As a result, pressure points form around the loins and withers, and the gullet becomes constricted. To prevent this from happening, check that you can fit a minimum of two fingers beneath the gullet, once the leather seat is secured onto the animal.

All saddles should fall evenly after being fitted on. If the front or back of the leather seat is tilted, this indicates a poor fit. The seat panels might be sufficiently long to cut into the horse’s hind legs, on animals with short backs. This needs to be avoided. While some animals have sloped backs, others have extremely flatbacks. Both types require a slightly different seat design. To ensure a good fit, insert your hand beneath the flaps of the seat and slide it across the seat panel, searching for tight areas or gaps.

After you have correctly fitted a leather seat onto your horse, it is wise to put the animal on a lead and take it for a walk. Make a note of the body’s pattern of movement, and check for any sign that the seat is creating tension or causing restriction. If everything appears to be in order, you can mount the horse and make adjustments to the stirrups. This will allow you to gauge the feel of the seat on the animal. If the seat is comfortable, you should feel no pressure around your buttocks or pelvis, and you should sit straight naturally.

Ideally, you should purchase high-quality stirrup leathers. This has numerous safety benefits because low-quality leathers tend to break and stretch, which enlarges the holes. Also, it is beneficial from a comfort standpoint. Your legs will be spending a lot of time in close proximity to this area of the leather seat. Therefore, if you use supple and soft stirrup leathers (and keep them well oiled), you will not experience any chafing or pinching.