Beginner’s Guide: Saddle Fitting 101

               Finding the right saddle fit can be a frustrating process. There are so many different measurements that have to take place in order to find the right saddle that is going to suit both you and your horse. For the horse measurement you need to measure his withers, his back length, as well as his body structure. For the rider, you have to first determine what type of saddle you will be using (i.e. Western or English). Once you know what type of saddle you will be riding/purchasing, you can then figure out the appropriate measurements that you will need for yourself! For the rider’s measurements, you can measure your seat size by your weight and your leg length.

Saddle Sizing For Your Horse: Measuring the Withers

                Measuring your horse’s withers can be quite easy! Here is what you will need:

  • wire (a wire hanger would work)
  • paper or cardboard
  • marker or writing utensil

Steps:

  1. Bend the wire over the horse's withers
    • The wire will lay 2” behind the horse's shoulder blade.
    • Bend the wire so that it lays over the horse's withers and against the horse's skin.

2. Carefully remove the wire so that you do not bend the shape you had formed.

3. Lay the wire onto the paper or cardboard and trace around the inside of the wire.

  • Please note, depending on the size of your horse, you may need to use two sheets of paper.

             Once you have traced the wire/wither formation, you will have a precise measurement for the withers. This wither tracing also provides you with the gullet measurement! Every saddle comes with a specific gullet size. This gullet size depicts the width of the horse’s withers and shoulders. The gullet width will help you in finding the best saddle that is going to fit your horse correctly.  

Measuring Back Length:

                When looking for a saddle, you want to make sure that the saddle isn’t going to be too long for your horse’s back. The average saddle is made to fit a majority of horses and usually doesn’t have a problem fitting the horse’s back length. However, some horse have a shorter back and require a special saddle that will be appropriate for their shorter back dimensions. You will want to measure from the withers to the last rib bone. This measurement will give you the maximum length for a proper saddle fit. Any saddle that is shorter than your horse’s back measurements okay and will still be a great fit! You only have to worry about your saddle being too long for your horse’s back. If your saddle is longer than your horse’s back, it will cause the saddle to hit sensitive pressure points and will cause irritation and pain for your horse.

Body Structure:

                Wither measurements and your horse’s body structure is going to depict what size gullet your saddle will need in order to fit your horse correctly. Gullets come in different sizes and are designed for different horse body types.

Gullet Size

Body Type

5” –  5.5”

Pony

6"

Narrow Build

6.5”

Average Build

7"

Wide Build

8"

Draft Horse

 

Saddle Sizing For the Rider:

                When looking for a saddle, it is always a good idea to know what style of riding you would like to do (i.e. Western or English). Once you have decided, you can start the measuring process! There are two different ways to measure yourself for the popper saddle size, weight and leg length.

                One of the ways to figure out your saddle seat size, is by your weight. By calculating your weight with this diagram, you will be able to find the correct saddle size to fit your body.

Western Saddle Weight Chart

Rider weight

Seat Size

90 – 130 lbs

15”

131 – 170 lbs

16”

171 – 200 lbs

17”

200 + lbs

18”

 

English Saddle Weight Chart

Rider Weight

Seat Size

90 lbs

15”

90 – 130 lbs

16”

131 – 175 lbs

17”

176 – 225 lbs

18”

225 + lbs

19”

 

                Finding your correct saddle size can also be found by measuring your leg length. Your leg length measurement is found by measuring from your hip joint, down to your knee. To get this correct measurement, sit in a chair and lay your back flat up against the back of the chair. With your feet flat on the floor, go ahead and measure from your hip to your knee. After you have your leg dimension, you can match them up with this diagram and find out what seat size you will need for your saddle!

Western Saddle Leg Length Chart

Leg Measurement

Seat Size

16.5 inches or less

13”

16.5 – 18.5”

14”

18.5 – 20”

15”

20 – 23”

16”

23 – 25”

17”

25” +

18”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                             

English Saddle Leg Length Chart

Leg Measurement

Seat Size

16.5 Inches or less

15”

16.5 – 18.5”

16”

18.5 – 21.5”

17”

21.5 – 23”

18”

23” +

19”

 

Proper Saddle Fitting For Your Horse:

                Once you have your new saddle, you want to make sure that it is fitting your horse properly. The first thing you want to do is to make sure that the gullet is the right size for you horse.

  • Put your saddle on your horse without a blanket
  • If the gullet/ bars of the tree are the right size, you should be able to see straight through the saddle from the withers. If you cannot see through the saddle, then the saddle is too small.
  • Go to the front of the gullet, underneath the horn, and put as many of your fingers going vertically as you can. You should be able to fit about 2 or 3 fingers in there if the saddle is fitting correctly. If you can fit more fingers in the front of the gullet, then the saddle is too big.

Next, you want to make sure that the bars of the saddle tree is forming to you horse’s back.

  • Place your saddle on your horse’s back without a pad or blanket.
  • The tree bars should be touching your horses’ back all the way down.
  • If it seems that the tree bars are only touching the lower part of your horse’s back, then the saddle is too small
  • If it seems that the tree bars are only touching the top of the horse’s back, then the saddle is too big.

Proper Saddle Fitting For the Rider:

                Once you have checked to make sure that your saddle is fitted to your horse, you need to make sure that the saddle is fitting the rider correctly. Depending on what style of riding you are planning on doing, Western or English, depicts the correct fit of the saddle.

                Western:

  • Attach the saddle to your horse and sit down in the saddle
  • While riding, you should be able to fit 3 to 4 fingers in between the swell and your thigh. 
  • If you can fit more than 4 fingers, your saddle is too big.
  • If you can’t fit 3 fingers, then your saddle is too small.

      English:

  • Attach your saddle to your horse and sit down in the saddle.
  • While riding, you should be able to put 4 fingers between the cantle and your backside.
  • If you can’t fit at least 4 fingers, then your saddle is too small.
  • If you can fit your entire hand between your backside and the cantle, then your saddle is too big.

             Use these sizing charts to help you, and your horse, achieve the proper saddle fit! Finding a saddle that fits correctly can be stressful and a hassle. But with these easy to use sizing charts, saddle fitting can be a piece of cake! Take your saddle measurements and check out our saddles today on SaddleOnline!