FAQ Saddling

Frequently Asked Questions


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Q. Which brand or design of saddle is best?

A. The expression ‘horses for courses' is applicable to this question. We do not favour any single brand over another. We do not favour any particular design nor speak against any design unless it is to the detriment of the horse. Whatever brand of saddle is chosen, it must be built properly, must fit the horse properly, must not cause the horse pain or discomfort and must suit the rider and type of work. The challenge is that many horses that we see have badly built and badly fitted saddles.

Q. Can my horse be damaged by saddling?

A. It is not natural for a horse to wear a saddle or to carry a rider. However, if we are to ride our horses, safety dictates that some form of saddling is necessary. The risk of damage is possibly academic if the horse is saddled with the correct size/shape of saddle, if it is built correctly and without potentially damaging features, if it is well-maintained and not twisted and if the horse is regularly appraised for saddling comfort. We can discuss suitable ‘tests' that can be regularly run, to judge whether the horse is completely comfortable or not. Yes, through back pain and the responses to it and compensation for it, the horse can be seriously damaged in a relatively short time, if these provisions are ignored or if warning signs are missed.

Q. What problems can arise from bad saddling?

A. We have seen a wide range of problems arise from bad saddling. A sore or painful back, weak muscling, poor top line, navicular, spavin, napping, incorrect stride length, incorrect outline, wrong head carriage, wrong tail carriage etc. can all be traced to saddling problems in a proportion of cases. These issues impinge on the welfare of the horse, because of the pain and distress involved in the process.

Q. What sort of build problems can I check for, when buying a saddle?

A. There is a range of commonly occurring build quality problems, that affect new saddles. Among these, perhaps the most frequent are, unsymmetrical mounting of stirrup bars, unsymmetrical mounting of girth straps, twisted tree, uneven structure beneath the panelling, inadequate gullet width, inadequately protected tree and points, unsymmetrical insertion of panels, unsymmetrical flocking and uneven or lumpy flocking. All these have the capacity to cause pain or discomfort, quite apart from the ‘fit' of the saddle.

Q. Should I have my saddle re-flocked, re-panelled or use air pads?

A. Increasing horse comfort by improving the panelling is, of course, a worthwhile activity but, it has to be said, no amount of panelling, flocking, air or other technique will correct a tree that is faulty or of incorrect size or correct a saddle that is badly built or finished.

See also: saddling.htm

If you have questions not answered here, please let us know (contact details)

Back to main FAQ

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