Fitting Your Saddle

When purchasing a saddle there are many factors to consider beforehand such as style, seat size, width and overall suitability. Before we begin, we would like to advise that you obtain a professional opinion when fitting a saddle - ill-fitting tack can cause pain and discomfit in your horse and this could lead to long term damage if not assessed and rectified. Seat size, width and style are all factors that you need to take into consideration when purchasing a saddle…

If you do not know your horse’s seat size you will need to try a few for size. Afterall, the saddle needs to fit you as well as the horse. A seat too small will affect the rider’s position in the saddle, likewise a seat too big can often cause the rider to ‘ride behind their horse’ plus many more issues. 

Measuring a seat for the rider - a general indicator is to sit on a chair and position your thigh at a right angle to your lower leg. In this position, measure from your buttocks to the knee in a straight line – this measurement should give you your upper leg length which can then be converted to an approximate seat size. Of course it is important to note that your seat size may not always be suitable for your horse and your horse’s needs also need to be assessed before making any decisions. 

Measurement Approx. seat size

Up to 41cm 15” Seat

Up to 46cm 16" Seat

Up to 50cm 16½” Seat

Up to 54cm 17" Seat

Up to 58cm 17½" Seat

59cm or longer 18" Seat

(Source: adapted from Thorowgood) 

When fitting a seat for the horse, the saddle should not pass over last rib. If your saddle seat falls over this threshold it may put unnecessary pressure on internal organs such as the kidneys. A correct fitting seat should ideally fall before the last rib to avoid any unwanted pressure. Again, as mentioned previously, it is always a good idea to have a professional look over your saddle to ensure the fit is right for both horse and rider collectively.

Checking the clearance your saddle gives is also imperative to achieve the correct fit. Move your horse to a flat surface and get them to stand as square as possible for a level measurement. Carefully place the saddle on their back – you should be able to fit three fingers between the horse's wither and the pommel. 

Further clearance should also be exhibited along the spine and should be visibly clear along the length of the back. Any tightness could cause discomfort and pain if left for too long.

Assessing the bearing of your saddle is conducted by running your hand between the horse’s shoulder and the panel of the saddle – ensure your horse is stood square and on level ground to assess the bearing effectively. 

If you are fitting a saddle that features the CAIR System it is advised that you check the bearing when seated in the saddle. This is because the CAIR System becomes dynamic when under the rider’s weight therefore checking the bearing without such weight in the saddle may not give you an accurate fit.

A balanced seat should be square and level over the back. Any tilting may put unnecessary pressure on the horses back – whether that be front or back. To test this, place your saddle on the back in the correct position (not too far forward and equally not too far back). A good position will allow freedom of the scapula and a natural position of the girth straps (in the natural girth groove). 

Be wary that your saddle is not sitting too far forward as this will lower the cantle area to put more pressure to the rear. In reverse, a saddle that is too far back can put too much pressure towards the pommel at the front– this is why obtaining the correct balance is imperative when fitting your saddle.

Gullets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Gullets can be used in interchangeable saddles to alter the width according to the horse’s size. Unfortunately, there is not a universal size for gullets and each manufacturer will have different widths and sizes.

Many manufacturers have gauges to establish an approximate gullet size for your horse – Wintec/bates being one. However, it is recommended that you have a professional establish the correct gullet size for your horse. 

We have compiled a list of our popular saddles along with their corresponding gullets:

Wintec & Bates Saddles 

Generally speaking, all Wintec & Bates saddles will take a Wintec gullet of any size. Please take a look at the links below: 

Please note, the standard width saddles will only take the standard range of gullets and the wide saddle range can only be fitted with the gullets that are specific to the wider range. We do not advise swapping between the two as the tree in the standard saddles are not made to go as wide as the wider range permits. 

Wintec Gullet Bar

Wintec Easy Change Complete Wide Gullet Kit

GFS

The older style GFS saddles used to take either the series 1 or series 2 gullets. However, all the new GFS saddles now take the Monarch range gullets. These go from a Medium to a 4XW depending on the saddle style.

Monarch 

The Monarch saddle also takes the same gullet as the newer GFS, again varying from a medium to 4XW depending on the style.

Thorowgood 

Throwgood saddles take the Thorowgood gullet bars. These bars come in a ‘R’ bar style and an ‘S’ bar style. Comparing the two, the ‘R’ bar is longer than the ‘S’ bar. The ‘S’ bar is designed specifically for Pony or Cob style saddles. In contrast, the ‘R’ bar can be found in dressage, jump and GP.

Kent & Masters 

Interchangeable Kent & Masters saddles also take the Thorowgood gullet bars. The style of saddle you have will determine whether you need an R bar, or an S bar (the same rule will apply as above).

John Whitaker 

John Whitaker gullets come in a long version and a short version. Depending what saddle you have will determine what gullet you require. 

The short bar is for use in the following saddles: LA Grand Prix, Venice Jump, Rome Event, Madrid GP, Rio Pony, Bedale, Barnsley, Overton, Highgate and Hebden Saddles.

The longer gullet is for use in the Harrogate and Vienna Dressage Saddles only.

If you are ever unsure which gullet to use just give us a call on 01757 638555 and we will be more than happy to help!