FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Feel free to send us a request for information on anything covered in this website. We are here to give you and your horse the best saddle fit possible.

If you can’t find an answer below – contact us by clicking on the chat bubble or the “Click here to contact us”

We also have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) which I try to answer some of the questions I frequently get asked.

Book a Saddlefit

We charge a saddlefitting rate of $75 per horse then a travel charge.  This depends on how far away you are.

Generally if you are:
within 50km travel charge is $15 ($75 + $15)
50-99km then total fee is $100 ($75 + $25)
100km – 149km total fee is $110 ($75 + $35)
150-199km total fee is $120 ($75 + $45)
200-250km total fee is $130 ($75 + $55)
Over 250km – please contact.
Note: if there is more than one horse on the place to be done then the travel fee is only charged once.
So if you live 130km away and have 2 horses the call out fee is $160 ($85 + $75).

From 1 July 2018. Please note: If you have a demo saddle to try we will arrange to collect after 7 days for a fee of $30 or you can arrange for saddle return yourself.

Part of assessing saddle fit is creating a template and diary of your horse.
When you contact us you may be asked to provide a template and at least one photo of your horse.

Doing a template
You need a flexicurve or similar material that will shape to your horses back and be able to traced on to paper. A wire coat hanger is an example though some can be hard to shape.

Locate your horses shoulder – if your horse is thick set try lifting the front leg and feel for where the shoulder movement up near the wither when the leg is pulled forward.

Once the horse is standing square again (on level ground) place the flexicurve/wire across the back about 3cm from the shoulder (so when you lift it off you end up with a shape like an upside down V or U.

Draw around this onto an A3 or A4 sheet of paper.
A3 template paper

You can photograph this and send it to us if this is easier than scanning it (contact us for mobile number)

If you have a template like this – chances are your horse has muscle atrophy.

Template Example

Template Example

 

Photos

It is important to send through a photo of your horse side on – whole body including feet so we can judge the back profile of your horse ie: whether it is flat backed, curvy backed etc.  This is important to match the correct tree profile to your horse.

Side on like this (though preferably horse not to smile at camera)

Side on like this (though preferably horse not to smile at camera)

Not like this – Horse is unlevel and whilst we can fit a back this croup high we ultimately want the best outcome. Please include the hooves so I can check how level horse is standing.

Not like this, feet aren't level and it gives impression of more bum high than actually is.

Not like this, feet aren’t level and it gives impression of more bum high than actually is.

Also helpful is a behind photo (but please only do this if it is safe!)

Photo from behind

Photo from behind (preferably with neck straight)

Optional is sending a photo of your current saddle sitting on your horse (girthed up) so I can see what is happening with it.

 

 

Please ensure your template has your details on it prior to sending it.

email: info@wefitsaddles.com.au

As with everything paying more doesn’t necessarily mean all your issues will be solved.

Firstly, check when your saddlefitter got their qualifications? Most organisations – especially Society of Master Saddlers UK (SMS) are constantly reviewing and updating their syllabus and qualification criteria. A now outdated fitting thought was that there needed to be at least 3-4 fingers clearance at the wither. Your saddlefitter might not have kept up with the latest research and thoughts on saddlefitting.

Secondly, I hardly ever fit for NOW – I fit for the future. I assess the whole of the horse. The conformation, the muscles, the hooves – everything – both standing and moving. I then decide what is happening now AND what should happen in the future. I’ve had horses change four (yes, four) gullet sizes in 2 weeks once we found a saddle solution that works.

I’m constantly working with my saddlemakers to offer saddles that suit the Australian environment and horse type. My years of experience has developed a heap of knowledge on things such as:

  • That WB bloodline that has the deceptive quirk to catch out a successful saddlefit.
  • That breed that is likely to be croup high
  • The breed that needs a deceptively wider saddle.

I’ve often been there and done that – both with my own horses or seen it with others.

I can adjust flocking on the spot – I’ve listened to saddlemakers on what flock works.

Whoa right there! Chances are your horse has muscle atrophy and really just needs a rehab program to correct this. We can work out a programme for you.

[more information to come]

Also see here

The key to this is to work out WHY the saddle slips and it can be for several reasons including (and not limited to)

  • Saddle Tree wrong shape
  • Saddle panel incorrect
  • Rider crooked
  • Horse has muscular issues.
  • Horse has hoof issues
  • Horse conformation.

We do a full assessment of what is happening and why. Thoroughly checking the Horse, Saddle and Rider.  We are very hesitant to recommend using ‘sticky’ pads or expensive girths with no guarantee of a solution.

No horse has defeated me yet and often the solution has been to strip all those extra pads off and simplify things.

At a Saddlefitting we generally start with a few questions and looking at the horse – from the anatomy, muscling and topline to hooves.  We are very hands on as this gives a better idea of what is happening with the horse.

Then we’ll look at the current saddle and decide if it can be made to fit. We are happy to point out why a saddle doesn’t work.

Assessments normally take 1.5 hours and involves measurements, photos and seeing the horse move and work under saddle – be prepared to ride the horse as a horse static (standing still) can be a very different saddle fit to a horse moving.

We are happy to change saddles, back to original saddle etc to find the best solution for you and your horse.

Whilst we are fitting to the horse today – we are also mindful of changes that might take place over the next few months.  Often once a fitting saddle is used there will be muscular changes in your horse.

If we have a demo saddle that works then there is the option to leave the saddle for a week trial (or book in a trial period if it isn’t possible to leave that saddle).

If you live beyond the saddle fit region or need something urgently we are happy to courier saddles for trial. Please note that shipping costs are entirely the responsibility of the customer. We have access to competitive courier rates (generally around $50, but will quote first) so please contact us. Obviously the more information you can provide the better chance of finding a saddle that works.

Contact us via the booking form for a phone consult to see if we are able to help you!Booking Form

Trial Tips
Provide a daytime address (like work) for courier so you receive the saddle as soon as possible and aren’t delayed by no one to receive delivery.

Take Photos! – Your saddle, my saddle, prior to ride, after ride.
Look at sweat patterns – are there dry patches, ruffled patches (photograph if not sure)
FEEL what is happening – do you feel tipped forward or backward? Can you easily get your legs on the horse. Does your horse feel invigorated or sloth like?

Visa or Mastercard must be given for freight. This will also be held as security (but not charged) until a decision is made about the saddle.

Please note: by trialling a saddle you are agreeing to our Trial Saddle Policy – It can be read here

Buy a Saddle

Purchasing a SaddleEve sideon

We appreciate that purchasing a saddle is a big financial investment and will try to help in every way we can to ensure the right fit.
We provide demo saddles and rental saddles to make the decision easier.
We encourage you to send through photos and templates to help make the decision.

What if it doesn’t work?
You are allowed a *7 day trial on a new saddle to decide if it is right for you. We encourage you to ride in the saddle but care must be taken with the saddle, any sign of flap abrasion or other marks will result in a 25% restocking fee. Remember that if a saddle shows signs of wear (other than girthing up) we can not sell it as new.
A refund less shipping costs will be provided after the return of the saddle.

*Note: Customised saddles are final sale – this includes saddles made to template that don’t fit into the saddle makers sizing range or special customisations you have asked for that differs from the standard.  Your saddle quote will note whether saddle is final sale.

All return shipping costs are payable by you. New saddles can not be sent via AusPost.

To date we have even replaced custom saddles – this is looked at on a case by case basis and is not guaranteed. On custom saddles replacement freight costs ex manufacturer are charged.

*You agree to waive the 7 day trial if you have taken advantage of our ‘direct to you’ saddle pricing except of manufacturing defects.

How do I order?
All orders must be accompanied by a 50% deposit – if the saddle is a custom-made we may ask for 100% deposit.
The rest is payable prior to the saddle being shipped to you.

What is the cost?
Contact us for a firm price on your saddle. Due to currency fluctuation you may get a better deal than the indicative price list on the website.

Sometimes it takes a day or 2 to get a saddle quote as I need a price from the saddlemaker to give you the best price possible.

How long does it take?
Some of our suppliers carry stock on hand of the standard sizes so the saddle could arrive in Australia within 7 days. Sometimes quarantine creates a hold up, we try to stream line this as much as possible. Often the big delay is caused by shipping within Australia.
If the saddle has to be made this can take 4-6 weeks, sometimes longer but we will give you a production time when giving you a firm saddle price.

Added benefits to buying from us
Within the first 12 months your first flocking top-up is free! (doesn’t include shipping cost)

To view saddle prices Click here

I often get asked about a saddle for a small pony. (Also, my paddocks consist of Shetlands and Welshies)

Personally, I’ve seen a lot of back issues caused by the use of non-treed saddles (yes, even those expensive paddles).
Here are some of the most common comments I get:
But my kid is only light
Those experienced horsepeople out there will agree that a rider can ride light or heavy. This, in part, has to do with balance. Often learner riders are ‘heavy’ riders and a more experienced rider can ride a lot ‘lighter’ (more in balance, not bouncing around).

I can’t find a saddle wide enough
This is a big issue. One we are working on determinedly. There are brands that are making wide saddles that are suitable – you just need to be able to find them.

Everyone uses paddles in the show ring
This is mainly because a suitable treed saddle hasn’t been available. Also, not true – there are saddles out in the Shetland showring.

The big issue is weight distribution. Pads and Paddles have an issue that the weight isn’t distributed well enough and often concentrated at the girth/stirrup bar area. A tree is there to distribute the weight over a greater area of the back.
Signs you need to look for are the presence of a ‘wither’ on a Shetland with dips behind (or I’ve seen an outline of the saddle imprinted in the back). Also, if you pony is reluctant to be saddled, girthed or mounted suggests that there is something not going right.

We currently have 11.5″ and 14.5″ sample saddles that are being trialled for suitability (kids job over school holidays) with – so far – good results.
Main issues with the fit – especially on the Shetlands and Welsh Mountain Ponies – are the short back and croup high pony.
[Photos to come]

The other factor is your rider and the suitability of a pad/paddle. Having covered off pony comfort there is rider comfort to consider. Personally, if someone said to me that I should ride my 16+hh Warmblood in a pad or paddle I’d look at you with horror – not that I need a deep seat saddle (I actually ride him in a flat seat jumping saddle most of the time) but because I’m not doing the horse or myself any favours in comfort. I wouldn’t do it so why would I expect my kids (who are learning) to do it? Sometimes I wonder if the Shetland got the Sh!tland title due to the unfair expectations placed on it.

Ok – so you have read this and are still determined that a paddle or pad is the way to go here are some pointers.
If you are buying from the UK make sure it is MADE in the UK. There is a lot of cheaper imported saddlery available in UK now. Having worked on top brand saddles where girth straps have literally come off in my hands I am very conscious of the need to put your trust in the maker and nothing says this better than Society of Master Saddlers manufacturers.

These are saddles that we recommend trying for your horse…

Keep checking back as I’ll add photos as I come across the saddles

Please note:
-We do not guarantee fit as all horses are different but it provides a direction.
-Not all models of the make will be suitable.
-The width of the saddle is only a small part of the fit equation.
-Remember not to buy a saddle without being able to ride in it several times

Look for a saddle with a pommel shaped like this.

Syd Hill

These photos are saddles that I’ve come across that do not fit into my saddle fitting philosophy for a variety of reasons….

Keep checking back as I’ll add photos as I come across the saddles

[Brands not listed deliberately so do not ask as refusal may offend 🙂 ]

Not at all – follow the instructions here and enclose the photos.  Provide as much information as possible, what saddles you have tried etc as often this helps decide what tree shape suits your horse.

You have 7 days. This maybe extended in special circumstances like bad weather etc.
But you must contact us prior to the 7 days being up.

Yes, sometimes it will. But not to the extent that purchasing an incorrect saddle and subsequently having to on sell at a loss.

Fully understandable. We offer a 7 day assessment period with our saddle sales. This means you can ride in the saddle several times as a test drive – especially important as horses often take a few rides before deciding the saddle isn’t really working for them.

If we have one in the demo pool – that may already be out with someone else – we can courier (at your cost) or bring out next time. Revisits within 6 months are subject to travel call out fees only, not the $75 assessment fee.

If we have nothing in the demo pool but believe we know what will fit your horse then we may recommend ordering a saddle for you.  Remember that you have a 7 day assessment period if we take this route so you are not buying and praying.

We don’t recommend you buy a saddle without trying it.  Horses are their own entity and often will move a lot differently than what the ‘standing’ horse suggests.

Unlikely. Our pricing is based on RRP plus freight and import fees. (plus you get to ‘try’ a saddle) You maybe able to import a secondhand saddle but there are tales of saddles being held up in customs and ‘irradiated’ prior to release. Irradiation is very destructive to synthetic – things like the webbing that holds the girths to the saddle tree. Depending on the quality of the webbing this can be a quick or slow disintegration process. None of my saddles are irradiated. I’m not having it on my conscience.

We try to give you the best possible prices – all our saddles come from overseas and the foreign currency rate is constantly changing. We guarantee to give you the best price possible. As we offer a saddle fit guarantee we maybe able to sharpen our prices further if you know what you want and don’t need the guarantee.

‘Fat’ Pony Saddles (cos we know they are just big boned)

Anyone who has looked for a decent pony saddle will reluctantly remember the frustration caused by the exercise.. Especially if after a specialised saddle.

Firstly, there are very few deep seated saddles out there. Watching our 3 year old bounce around on the end of a leadrein in a slippery, virtual flatseat saddle has the hearts in the mouth of many parents. In fact, the old 1980’s Bates Esperance (made in Australia) probably sells for more now secondhand than it did new nearly 40 years ago!

Secondly, we have cute ‘fat’ ponies!  Blame the Welsh/Shetland influence on this.  My widest saddle fit has been a pony!  Who would have thunk it????

Thirdly, our cute fat ponies are often croup high (or at least level) and no one appears to have told the saddlemakers that big gussets aren’t required.

Last(ly), even if we achieve one, two or all of the above there is often an issue with the saddle looks!  Clumpy seems to be in rather than fine.  No one told the saddlemakers that our mini Ferraris need a finer saddle so the saddle ‘sits with’ rather than on the horse.

What is the Solution?

We have 4 saddlemakers working on this for us.
Also – a 15″ AH Native Pony Saddle is ready for shipment so should arrive in the next few weeks. This has a size 6 gullet.

If you live beyond the saddle fit region or need something urgently we are happy to courier saddles for trial. Please note that shipping costs are entirely the responsibility of the customer. We have access to competitive courier rates (generally around $50, but will quote first) so please contact us. Obviously the more information you can provide the better chance of finding a saddle that works.

Contact us via the booking form for a phone consult to see if we are able to help you!Booking Form

Trial Tips
Provide a daytime address (like work) for courier so you receive the saddle as soon as possible and aren’t delayed by no one to receive delivery.

Take Photos! – Your saddle, my saddle, prior to ride, after ride.
Look at sweat patterns – are there dry patches, ruffled patches (photograph if not sure)
FEEL what is happening – do you feel tipped forward or backward? Can you easily get your legs on the horse. Does your horse feel invigorated or sloth like?

Visa or Mastercard must be given for freight. This will also be held as security (but not charged) until a decision is made about the saddle.

Please note: by trialling a saddle you are agreeing to our Trial Saddle Policy – It can be read here

Photo Guide

These are saddles that we recommend trying for your horse…

Keep checking back as I’ll add photos as I come across the saddles

Please note:
-We do not guarantee fit as all horses are different but it provides a direction.
-Not all models of the make will be suitable.
-The width of the saddle is only a small part of the fit equation.
-Remember not to buy a saddle without being able to ride in it several times

Look for a saddle with a pommel shaped like this.

Syd Hill

These photos are saddles that I’ve come across that do not fit into my saddle fitting philosophy for a variety of reasons….

Keep checking back as I’ll add photos as I come across the saddles

[Brands not listed deliberately so do not ask as refusal may offend 🙂 ]

Sell a Saddle

Yes!  We are currently working on all the details now.

We are doing this as we understand that not all people can afford to buy a new saddle.  We also know that there are options out there that are often forgotten gems.

For more information see here…

Things you don't ask but should

I get asked this question a lot and I do kinda see where it stems from – the want to have a totally unbiased opinion on what brand to buy – but I do not understand the hoped outcome.

Do people want to have the saddlefitter recommend/fit from knowledge of every saddle available in the Market place?

Or

Are they worried they will be ‘talked’ into an uber expensive saddle?

Or

Do they like the knowledge that they aren’t paying twice (fit and then purchase) to the same person?

To lay to rest some myths or unknowns that seem to be circulating.

1.  Any SMS (Society of Master Saddler UK) Saddlefitter is aligned to at least one brand.  They need to be to hold the qualification.  You can not get the qualification without being nominated by a Walsall Saddlemaker.

The ASFA is a qualification largely geared towards Bates.

2. Personally I do not have knowledge of every brand on the market – but I have my fit principles.  This means by checking fit, horse and watching movement/ridden horse I make an opinion judged on what I see.  I’ve recommended $100 saddles, I’m a horse rider as well and have kids that ride.  I KNOW how expensive the sport is.  Just ask those people who have seen me ransack their tackroom and blow dust off an oldie (but goodie) saddle how determined I am to see if they already own a solution.

Yes, I have preferences and biases for or against brands but that comes from information I’ve accumulated from years of doing this.  But if the saddle works I’m not going to steer you towards a new one.  Even if I don’t think the current saddle is a long-term prospect (remember I fit for the future) I’m happy to look at options to get you through until a new saddle can be purchased.  At the end of the day – The horse is the best critic of saddlefit, and I listen to what he or she thinks long before a pricetag.

For the last 10+ years of selling saddles I’ve evolved my brands that I sell.  I’ve bought brands into my ‘stable’ only to discount them due to them not doing what I hoped they would do, or finding a better suited brand.  I like to think that by only selling a few hand-picked (or unpicked and pulled apart to see the innards) saddles and working with the saddlemakers I become an ‘expert’ in the brand.  This is especially important with new saddles as it is a huge outlay and its my reputation (and conscience) that suffers when a buyer is unhappy with their purchase.  By having a large knowledge of what I sell I can give the best possible service and outcome.

I offer a 6 month backup service with all saddle fits (whether you buy a saddle from me or not) – this means if you find a secondhand saddle I’m happy to come out and offer an opinion for the cost of the travel fee.  I’m here to look at photos, ads etc to help you buy the saddle that works.  Because – at the end of the day – all horses are individuals and there is no cookie cutter solution.

Here is a photo that shows the difference in trees from the ‘normal’ tree to a saddle with a Hoop, Freedom or U tree.  (I’ll keep posting photos of saddles as I come across them)

Both saddles measure the same distance at the end of the tree points but as you can see the shape of the pommel is very different.U vs V shaped tree

 

Different brands call their saddle trees different things.  A majority of saddles are made on a V shaped tree.  Fortunately there are more and more saddle makers (back) building on a Hoop, U, open head or Freedom tree.

The thing is that these aren’t a new design.  If your horse requires this type of tree there are old types of saddles that could well fit your horse. Yes, some of those dust collectors sitting in your tackroom could well be more appropriate for your horse than the spiffy, modern saddle you are using.

It is important to note that a Cob tree does not necessarily mean the tree is a U, Hoop, Open head or Freedom tree.  Adjustable trees are mainly V shaped or semi-hoop at best.

To add to the confusion there are Semi-Hoop Trees. These are a cross over between the V-shape and the U shape tree.  We often recommend (and rent) a semi-hoop tree for those ponies and horses that have been in a V shape tree and subject to muscle atrophy.  This is often needed for several weeks to rebuild muscle without compromising saddle fit.

WITHER CLEARANCE

Myth One: Put saddle on the wither ***EWWWW Back up the bus please***
Your saddle should be sitting BEHIND the shoulder. (read that FAQ for more information)

Myth Two: Clearance at the front needs to be 3-4 fingers.

Don’t believe me?  Check this – The SMS (Society of Master Saddlers) have now changed their teaching to ‘clearance’ at the front of the saddle.

Why?

For those with ‘high withered’ horses – to achieve 3-4 fingers clearance the seat of the saddle would be like a ski ramp with the mid point/balance point of saddle being too far back in the saddle.

(A good indication that the saddle isn’t balanced correctly is the rider having a sore lower back after a ride)

This leads to what is wither height.  Wither height is the distance from the top of the shoulder to the top of the wither.  There are those that have no wither above the shoulder.  Wither height is not defined by the hollows behind the shoulder – this is muscle atrophy

Wither Height is the distance above the shoulder. The Circle shows a ‘hollow’ behind the shoulder that indicates Muscle Atrophy

Wither Drop?

This definitely plays a part in Saddle fit.  It is also a variable factor.  Some swaybacks or ‘huge’ withers are caused by muscle atrophy and the horse can learn to strengthen his back to correct.  The sway is caused by the horse being in pain and ‘ducking’ away from the pain.

Whilst the horse below will always have a defined wither strengthening the back will have a huge impact on wither drop and subsequently Saddle Fit.

Whilst the above horse will never be a ‘hippopotamus’ fit he could well be exceeding an X-Wide gullet, with improved movement and less lameness and shying.

How do I know this?  From hands on experience of horses I’ve retrained.

I’ll do a blurb on Muscle Atrophy soon.

Meanwhile – feel free to contact me for more information.

Surprisingly this is one of the most common issues I find when I go out saddle fitting… I even get callouts as people are having the issue of the saddle slipping back.

The saddle tree point needs to sit behind the shoulder.

Where is the Shoulder?
Feel it – some horses are more defined than others.

If it is difficult then get someone to lift front leg and move it back and forward.

What is the Tree Point?

Where is the Tree Point?

It is near the front of the saddle – lift the flap and take a peek.
It isn’t necessarily the front of the saddle – look at jumping saddles that have all that flap compared to a dressage saddle.

Why is the Tree Point placement so important?
The tree point is a solid part of the tree. It’s length can vary according to the type of saddle and the horse it is to fit. Some trees have flexible tree points. Some trees have rear angled tree points.
Without going into a Muscular-Skeletal and Body Dynamics lesson (that’s what you pay me to know right?) Solid, immovable parts of a saddle must connect with less movable parts of the horse. Therefore a tree point sitting on the shoulder (which moves every stride) doesn’t work.

Unfortunately Saddle Gussets appear to be more of a fashion accessory than a requirement to fit your saddle correctly.

In the past 40 years the gusseted panel appears to replace the ‘old style’ saddle gusset.  The justification for this was to allow a greater weight bearing surface for the horse comfort.  This does have some relevance if your rider is nearing the weight carrying capacity of the horse.

Deep Saddle Gusset

Deep Saddle Gussets

Unfortunately the panel – especially the deep saddle gusset – has led to EXTRA pressure points on the horse in particular the front and back of the saddle if the horse has a curvier back compared to the panel shape.  It also can cause the saddle to ‘nose-dive’ into the shoulder if the panel extends beyond the 18th rib.

So should we go back to the ‘old style’?

Shallow Gusset Picture

Shallow Saddle Gussets (actually no gusset)

Not necessarily – there is a time and a place for deep and shallow saddle gussets and those in between.

Here is where I earn my $$$.  Amongst other things I get to decide what size gusset would suit your horse.  This is relatively simple when the horse is standing stationery but we need the saddle to fit when the horse is actually moving.  Horses will lift through the back to varying degrees depending on training, breeding and muscle development.

For example – A horse standing stationery, cold out of the paddock or stable will have belly hang or back drop.  When he or she starts working the stomach muscles start working (sound familiar?)  I have a warmblood that “fits” a curvy panel until warmed up then he lifts and is definitely a flat backer.  My instructor was teasing me about ‘back saddle flap’ and my expertise as a saddle fitter until I said “keep watching”. Sure enough, once he was working through correctly and easily the back saddle flapping had stopped.

This is partly why I like people to have a decent ride prior to purchasing a saddle.  Also, I believe partly, why we see so many saddles that have only been used a handful of times.

Going back to the photos above and the 18th rib…  See the difference in panel length on both saddles?  Which one would you want on a short backed horse?

 

So what is Muscle Atrophy and how does it affect saddle fit.

Muscle atrophy is the wastage of muscles where the saddle sits – mainly in the ‘junction box’ (behind the shoulder just behind the wither).

What causes Muscle Atrophy?
It can be caused by injury but all (but 1) cases I’ve seen have been saddle fit related.

Which means?
You can change the shape of your horses back through incorrect saddle fit.

Sadly most people do not realise what an impact saddle fit is having on their horse. Most horses are obliging creatures who put up with a lot. The following are what I’ve seen that can be an indicator of bad saddle fit.
– Reluctance to go forward, can include laziness and lack of impulsion to rearing and bucking!
– Lameness
– Shying
– Girthiness

What’s the Beginners guide to tell if my horse has muscle atrophy?
When you do a wither template there will be inward curves in extreme cases
+add photo+
A well conformed wither should show a nice curve with no ‘sharp’ points or flat or inwards.
+add photo+

So – with the correct saddle I’ll be in line for the next Olympics?
Sadly no – saddle fit is just one of the building blocks to help you on your way.

Why does my horse seem to get narrower and narrower?
This is one of the classic signs of muscle atrophy. Other than obvious overweight issues a horse should not get narrower and narrower when in work. Toned muscle is defined muscle, toned muscle doesn’t get smaller and smaller with work. One of the crazy things about horses is that when they are wearing a too-tight saddle they go into ‘self repair’ mode of not using the muscle that is getting sore. This is a vicious cycle of horse losing muscle so rider gets a narrower saddle, so horse loses more muscle. A horse won’t develop muscle where there is no room to grow. It will try but if it doesn’t succeed will go into atrophy.

How does this relate to the way you fit?
I try to fit to where the horse should be given the workload and expectations.
A potential FEI dressage horse would have a different expectation to a pony club hack doing beginner dressage tests.
This means finding the optimal point.

 

More to come

About 20 years ago the ‘fashion’ in saddle making was moved towards large gusseted panels. This was marketed as allowing more weight distribution for horse and a good thing… But is it?
Couple it with the slightly croup high horse and you aren’t doing your horse any favours with the large panel gusseted saddle.

What happens if you have a short backed horse?

Several of my suppliers/saddle makers are turning back the clock to help with the short back dilemma.
One of our Lovatt and Ricketts demo saddles has the old style panel on it.

Lovatt and Ricketts no gusset panel

Lovatt and Ricketts no gusset panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHortpanel16.5Welsh

Upswept Panel 16.5″ saddle on Welsh pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea Hicks (Native Pony Saddles) also has upswept panels to cater to the short back and ofter slightly croup high horse/pony

(Also read our FAQ on gussets)

Short Panel

Short Panel measure

Book a Saddlefit

If you live beyond the saddle fit region or need something urgently we are happy to courier saddles for trial. Please note that shipping costs are entirely the responsibility of the customer. We have access to competitive courier rates (generally around $50, but will quote first) so please contact us. Obviously the more information you can provide the better chance of finding a saddle that works.

Contact us via the booking form for a phone consult to see if we are able to help you!Booking Form

Trial Tips
Provide a daytime address (like work) for courier so you receive the saddle as soon as possible and aren’t delayed by no one to receive delivery.

Take Photos! – Your saddle, my saddle, prior to ride, after ride.
Look at sweat patterns – are there dry patches, ruffled patches (photograph if not sure)
FEEL what is happening – do you feel tipped forward or backward? Can you easily get your legs on the horse. Does your horse feel invigorated or sloth like?

Visa or Mastercard must be given for freight. This will also be held as security (but not charged) until a decision is made about the saddle.

Please note: by trialling a saddle you are agreeing to our Trial Saddle Policy – It can be read here

Book a Saddlefit

At a Saddlefitting we generally start with a few questions and looking at the horse – from the anatomy, muscling and topline to hooves.  We are very hands on as this gives a better idea of what is happening with the horse.

Then we’ll look at the current saddle and decide if it can be made to fit. We are happy to point out why a saddle doesn’t work.

Assessments normally take 1.5 hours and involves measurements, photos and seeing the horse move and work under saddle – be prepared to ride the horse as a horse static (standing still) can be a very different saddle fit to a horse moving.

We are happy to change saddles, back to original saddle etc to find the best solution for you and your horse.

Whilst we are fitting to the horse today – we are also mindful of changes that might take place over the next few months.  Often once a fitting saddle is used there will be muscular changes in your horse.

If we have a demo saddle that works then there is the option to leave the saddle for a week trial (or book in a trial period if it isn’t possible to leave that saddle).

Book a Saddlefit

The key to this is to work out WHY the saddle slips and it can be for several reasons including (and not limited to)

  • Saddle Tree wrong shape
  • Saddle panel incorrect
  • Rider crooked
  • Horse has muscular issues.
  • Horse has hoof issues
  • Horse conformation.

We do a full assessment of what is happening and why. Thoroughly checking the Horse, Saddle and Rider.  We are very hesitant to recommend using ‘sticky’ pads or expensive girths with no guarantee of a solution.

No horse has defeated me yet and often the solution has been to strip all those extra pads off and simplify things.

Buy a Saddle

‘Fat’ Pony Saddles (cos we know they are just big boned)

Anyone who has looked for a decent pony saddle will reluctantly remember the frustration caused by the exercise.. Especially if after a specialised saddle.

Firstly, there are very few deep seated saddles out there. Watching our 3 year old bounce around on the end of a leadrein in a slippery, virtual flatseat saddle has the hearts in the mouth of many parents. In fact, the old 1980’s Bates Esperance (made in Australia) probably sells for more now secondhand than it did new nearly 40 years ago!

Secondly, we have cute ‘fat’ ponies!  Blame the Welsh/Shetland influence on this.  My widest saddle fit has been a pony!  Who would have thunk it????

Thirdly, our cute fat ponies are often croup high (or at least level) and no one appears to have told the saddlemakers that big gussets aren’t required.

Last(ly), even if we achieve one, two or all of the above there is often an issue with the saddle looks!  Clumpy seems to be in rather than fine.  No one told the saddlemakers that our mini Ferraris need a finer saddle so the saddle ‘sits with’ rather than on the horse.

What is the Solution?

We have 4 saddlemakers working on this for us.
Also – a 15″ AH Native Pony Saddle is ready for shipment so should arrive in the next few weeks. This has a size 6 gullet.

Book a Saddlefit

Whoa right there! Chances are your horse has muscle atrophy and really just needs a rehab program to correct this. We can work out a programme for you.

[more information to come]

Also see here

Book a Saddlefit

Firstly, check when your saddlefitter got their qualifications? Most organisations – especially Society of Master Saddlers UK (SMS) are constantly reviewing and updating their syllabus and qualification criteria. A now outdated fitting thought was that there needed to be at least 3-4 fingers clearance at the wither. Your saddlefitter might not have kept up with the latest research and thoughts on saddlefitting.

Secondly, I hardly ever fit for NOW – I fit for the future. I assess the whole of the horse. The conformation, the muscles, the hooves – everything – both standing and moving. I then decide what is happening now AND what should happen in the future. I’ve had horses change four (yes, four) gullet sizes in 2 weeks once we found a saddle solution that works.

I’m constantly working with my saddlemakers to offer saddles that suit the Australian environment and horse type. My years of experience has developed a heap of knowledge on things such as:

  • That WB bloodline that has the deceptive quirk to catch out a successful saddlefit.
  • That breed that is likely to be croup high
  • The breed that needs a deceptively wider saddle.

I’ve often been there and done that – both with my own horses or seen it with others.

I can adjust flocking on the spot – I’ve listened to saddlemakers on what flock works.

Book a Saddlefit

As with everything paying more doesn’t necessarily mean all your issues will be solved.

Buy a Saddle

We try to give you the best possible prices – all our saddles come from overseas and the foreign currency rate is constantly changing. We guarantee to give you the best price possible. As we offer a saddle fit guarantee we maybe able to sharpen our prices further if you know what you want and don’t need the guarantee.

Buy a Saddle

Unlikely. Our pricing is based on RRP plus freight and import fees. (plus you get to ‘try’ a saddle) You maybe able to import a secondhand saddle but there are tales of saddles being held up in customs and ‘irradiated’ prior to release. Irradiation is very destructive to synthetic – things like the webbing that holds the girths to the saddle tree. Depending on the quality of the webbing this can be a quick or slow disintegration process. None of my saddles are irradiated. I’m not having it on my conscience.

Book a Saddlefit

We charge a saddlefitting rate of $75 per horse then a travel charge.  This depends on how far away you are.

Generally if you are:
within 50km travel charge is $15 ($75 + $15)
50-99km then total fee is $100 ($75 + $25)
100km – 149km total fee is $110 ($75 + $35)
150-199km total fee is $120 ($75 + $45)
200-250km total fee is $130 ($75 + $55)
Over 250km – please contact.
Note: if there is more than one horse on the place to be done then the travel fee is only charged once.
So if you live 130km away and have 2 horses the call out fee is $160 ($85 + $75).

From 1 July 2018. Please note: If you have a demo saddle to try we will arrange to collect after 7 days for a fee of $30 or you can arrange for saddle return yourself.

Buy a Saddle

If we have one in the demo pool – that may already be out with someone else – we can courier (at your cost) or bring out next time. Revisits within 6 months are subject to travel call out fees only, not the $75 assessment fee.

If we have nothing in the demo pool but believe we know what will fit your horse then we may recommend ordering a saddle for you.  Remember that you have a 7 day assessment period if we take this route so you are not buying and praying.

We don’t recommend you buy a saddle without trying it.  Horses are their own entity and often will move a lot differently than what the ‘standing’ horse suggests.

Buy a Saddle

Fully understandable. We offer a 7 day assessment period with our saddle sales. This means you can ride in the saddle several times as a test drive – especially important as horses often take a few rides before deciding the saddle isn’t really working for them.

Buy a Saddle

Yes, sometimes it will. But not to the extent that purchasing an incorrect saddle and subsequently having to on sell at a loss.

Buy a Saddle

You have 7 days. This maybe extended in special circumstances like bad weather etc.
But you must contact us prior to the 7 days being up.

Sell a Saddle

Yes!  We are currently working on all the details now.

We are doing this as we understand that not all people can afford to buy a new saddle.  We also know that there are options out there that are often forgotten gems.

For more information see here…

Buy a Saddle

Not at all – follow the instructions here and enclose the photos.  Provide as much information as possible, what saddles you have tried etc as often this helps decide what tree shape suits your horse.