Ensuring that you select the right saddle for your horse is vital. It not only affects the position in which the rider will sit, and therefore can be beneficial in preventing back ache or muscle pain, but it also affects the horse. No responsible horse owner would want their steed to be in discomfort and pain and so choosing the best saddle is very important. There are companies available who will measure your horse and recommend the saddles that they think are most appropriate but as with most things this service costs money. I highly recommend this service as it ensures that you will not be causing any distress to your horse when you ride it.
Once the correct saddle has been purchased it is important to remember that positioning the saddle on the horse’s back is also vital in ensuring your horse is comfortable when ridden. There are three main muscles in the horse’s back which can be affected by the use of a badly positioned saddle. It is important to familiarize yourself with these and their locations before attempting to position the saddle on your horse. This will give you an idea of where the saddle needs to sit in order to be most comfortable for the horse.
In addition to the muscles which can be affected by the saddle you must remember that the saddle is positioned on the horse’s back and so this can have an effect on the spine and its vertebrae. Remembering this should remind you of how important this lesson is and that you cannot afford to take risks with your horse if you want it to lead a long and painless life.
Firstly, place the saddle on the horse’s back, forward of the wither. Once you have done this, slide it back along the back of the horse until it cannot comfortably go any further. This will vary dependent on the shape of the individual horse but the lowest point of the saddle should correspond to the lowest point of the horse’s back. If the saddle is in the correct position, the saddle tree will not be pressing on the scapula (the shoulder of the horse) but will rest in the natural grooves behind them. The most common mistake is to position the saddle too far forward and this then causes the saddle to press on the muscles in the scapula causing pain, impeding movement and creating the possibility of saddle sores.
Once you have learned how to position the saddle you will find it comes naturally after a time. It is worth taking the time to do it properly though if you wish to remain the owner of a healthy, happy horse.