Sarah Linton

Signs of an ill-fitting saddle

When you start assessing the horse, rider and saddle- most people are unaware of signs of soreness and saddle fitting problems. The rider could have had riding issues for years and not realized it could be because the horse is sore. The instructor could be constantly telling students to do one thing or another not realizing that the saddle doesn’t fit or suit the rider. These are common mistakes and by starting to listen to your horse and watch for signs you will help build a better relationship between you and your horse. These are some signs below:

Symptoms
• Dry Patches when you take off saddle • Uneven sweat marks • Cold backed
• Bucking • Rearing • Bolting
• Reluctance to go down hill • Reluctance to go up hill • Saddle sitting on spine
• Saddle bridging • Saddle rocking • Sore back
• High head carriage • Head tossing • Short choppy stride
• Swelling around saddle area • Muscle wastage • Tail swishing
• Ears back when saddling • Drops back to light touch • Sores on back, lumps & bumps
• Refusing jumps, knocking poles • Dislikes saddle being put on • Reluctance to move forward
• Reluctance to go into canter • Difficulty doing canter changes • Difficuty maintaining collection
• Strains and sprains • Sensitive to being touched & brushed • Behavioural issues
• Scuff or rub marks under saddle area • Saddle slipping forward • Saddle slipping back
• Saddle sitting down hill in front • Saddle sitting up hill in front • Saddle sitting off to one side
• Rehabilitation after an accident or injury • Girthy • White hairs
• Saddle sitting on wither • Slow to warm up or relax • Training issues
• Behavioural problems when having feet done • Rider having problems with position • You wish to enhance performance


Uneven sweat marks; white hairs; shocking packing job


Examples of bridging saddles and the effect on a horse's back


Uneven panels


Pad tests; even and uneven


White hair scarring, muscle wastage and lumps on back


Girth scarring and shark's fin withers


Uneven heels, quad muscles, shoulders and knees