You’ve probably heard all about how it’s important that your saddle fits your horse well, but do you really know why? Let’s take a look at six specific effects that a poorly fitting saddle can have on your horse.
A poorly fitting saddle may put pressure directly on your horse’s spine. Rather than distributing your weight across your horse’s back, a saddle that is too wide may sit right on your horse’s withers or even on his lower back. This makes for an uncomfortable ride for the horse, and can restrict his ability to use his back effectively.
A saddle which pinches your horse’s shoulders will restrict his movement. This can cause your horse to be short-strided, and may result in a choppy gait. Sometimes your horse may have trouble picking up or sustaining the correct leads at the lope or the canter, and a saddle which restricts your horse’s shoulders will also negatively affect his jumping abilities.
A poorly fitting saddle is uncomfortable for your horse, and it can result in hollowed movement. If you’re trying to collect and engage your horse but he continues to travel with his head up in the air and his back hollowed, then a poorly fitting saddle may be to blame. It’s difficult for your horse to travel in a correct frame when he is in pain or compensating for saddle issues.
Sometimes saddles sit unevenly on horses, and this can cause balance issues for your horse. A horse who is dealing with an uneven saddle may fall in on a circle going a particular direction, and you may find yourself having to work harder than normal in order to keep your horse out on the track.
If a saddle truly fits a horse poorly, you may notice uneven or improper muscle development in your horse over time. This can occur when your horse moves unnaturally in a response to the saddle’s unevenness or in attempt to evade pain that the saddle is causing.
In extreme cases, a poorly fitting saddle can cause uncomfortable pinching and even nerve damage in your horse’s back. It’s common for such damage to occur to your horse’s withers, an area where pinching can easily happen.
It’s important to regularly check your saddle’s fit to make sure that your horse will be comfortable and unrestricted when wearing the saddle. If you’re not sure how to check your saddle’s fit, then ask a trainer or a saddle fitter to help you.