“Never fit to a horses current shape but to what they should be”
How does this work? Do I buy the widest saddle I can find?
In a short answer “No”.
The long answer:
I can think of a lot of reasons why this doesn’t work – but the main reason is that the tree shape has to suit the horse.
Saddles are built around a tree.
I prefer the Laminated Beechwood spring tree over the others. They have a certain amount of ‘give’ but not too much.
The main differences in trees (other than what they are made of) are the profile (shape front to back), width and pommel shape.
The Profile of the tree should suit your horse. Some horses are flat backed, some are curvy and some are ‘normal’
Whilst a panel can be reflocked to suit a back type the flocking likes to align itself with the tree shape – so attempting to change a flat panel to a curvy backed horse has limited success, especially in the long-term (beyond 6 months).
Width has to do with the angle of the tree points. But to complicate things remember that sizing across different brands is not uniform so fitting a wide in one brand doesn’t mean your horse will fit a wide in another. It would be nice if there was a standard where width between the tree points was measured in degrees rather than some of the methods used. Again though – going armed with the ‘degrees’ to suit your horse doesn’t guarantee success either.
This plays a bigger part than a lot of people think.
Pommel shape can be determined in 2 different ways.
First – front on. Most saddles resemble an upside down V, some resemble an upside down U – the U (or hoop tree) is more open at the top. The other consideration is height. High pommel allows for wither clearance for high withered horses. Where people are tempted to narrow the gullet down for wither clearance – this isn’t correct and can lead to muscle atrophy.
Anyway – more on muscle atrophy and saddle width soon….