Often we are asked for saddle suggestions based on conversation. True, we can glean a lot of information from chatting with a customer but typically, we will suggest that the customer do wither tracings and also send in our questionnaire and provide conformation shots. Why is that so important?
You might have an idea of what shape your horse is, or, you may think you have an idea! We can listen to your description until the “cows come home”, but if you do not have an educated eye, the challenge of providing a good saddle suggestion becomes more challenging. Many people think that the width and height of the wither and their seat size is all that we need. However, we need much more. We base our suggestions on the lateral shape of the area where the tree points of the saddle would go, the lowest point of the back, the lateral shape and longitudinal shape, (topline), and where the last rib is. We want to make sure that the saddle is the right shape and length with all of the right panel and necessary options.
Many of you know that there are two basic types of saddle trees, A shaped and U shaped. Granted, there are some horses that are on that cusp and can go either way. Photos and descriptions of your horse’s shape can sometimes determine which tree would be best but sometimes, the average person doesn’t realize that although the horse has a wither and perhaps a large wither, it can also be broad and the mid back can be very round and not suitable for an A shaped tree. That is why we rely on tracings a lot because a tracing can give us that bit of information to confirm which tree would be best. If we suggest an A shaped tree based only on discussion or based only on the tracing of the wither, we are missing a big piece of the puzzle and the saddle could be far too angular.
3 fingers behind scapula, low point, T 18 and topline
Breed types often have similar lateral shapes but many times, their longitudinal shapes vary in terms of uphill, downhill or curvy.We do generalize to some extent but there are exceptions to every rule and again, that is why the extra measurements and photos are so helpful. The side conformation shot allows us to check the topline shape and the photo taken from a mounting block behind the tail, looking down on the back gives us a lateral aspect, as well as, the opportunity to check for symmetry.
We have directions on the site for taking the shots and tracings and a short video. Therefore, it is in your best interest to provide those before we make suggestions as it tends to cut down the time it takes to find a saddle and therefore, save on shipping.
Frequently, we get a person that just wants to try a saddle first without the effort of doing a tracing and we do have some success with that but the rate of success with all of the information is higher percentage.
If you are considering another saddle, pay more attention to the lateral and longitudinal shape of your horse and take the time to do all of the measurements, send us good, useable photos, with the horse square and head up, and fill out our questionnaire, particularly if you have a challenging horse to fit. We have examples, directions, video and clickable links on our site under the drop down, Saddle Fitting. Honestly, it is much easier than you think and think of the time it should save.