Signs That Your Saddle Doesn’t Fit Your Horse

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Whether you’re looking at horses for sale or have been riding your horse for years, it’s important to be aware of the common signs that your saddle doesn’t fit your horse. Horses’ backs can change with age and varying fitness levels, so even though a saddle fit your horse at one point, it won’t necessarily always fit. Stay aware of the following common signs that your saddle doesn’t fit.

Uneven Sweat Pattern

When you remove your saddle pad after your ride, take a look at the sweat pattern across your horse’s back. Your horse should sweat in an even pattern, and there shouldn’t be any gaps between the sweaty areas. The pattern should also be the same on both sides of your horse’s back. If you notice gaps between the sweat, or areas which are significantly sweatier than others, this can indicate that your saddle is not distributing pressure evenly.

Back Sensitivity

Make a point of palpating your horse’s back on a regular basis. Run your hand firmly from his withers back towards his hips, and be sure that your hand travels directly over the areas where the saddle panels sit. Watch your horse for any sort of a painful reaction, such as him dropping his back away from your hand or tensing up as your hand travels over a particular area. If you find that particular areas of your horse’s back are sensitive, this may indicate that the saddle is creating uneven pressure, leading to pain.

Behavioral Issues

When a saddle doesn’t fit correctly, horses often react when being ridden. Behavioral issues like rearing, refusing to move forward, being reluctant to step up into the bit, bucking, and head tossing can all be a horse’s way of reacting to a saddle that is pinching, rubbing, or otherwise uncomfortable. Before you view these issues as behavioral, evaluate your saddle’s fit to make sure that it isn’t causing your horse pain.

Discolored Hair

In situations of extremely poor saddle fit, your horse’s hair may become discolored. If you have a dark coated horse but start to notice patches of white or grey hair on his back, be very suspicious of your saddle. You should stop riding your horse in that particular saddle and take the time to carefully evaluate the saddle’s fit.

If you suspect that your saddle doesn’t fit, then it’s time to take a close look at how the saddle sits on your horse’s back. Whether looking at horses for sale or working with a horse you’ve ridden for years, good saddle fit is vital to your horse’s comfort.

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