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The Cape Fear Equestrian
Saddle Fittting


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November 2002

Purchasing a saddle is one of the most expensive investements you will make(after the horse of course). Buying a saddle will not only affect your bank account, but your horses performance as well. An ill fitting saddle can cause your horse excruciating pain and may actually cause injuries.

If you are seeing problems such as bucking, rearing, head tossing, and other resistances, you may have saddle fitting problems. Eliminating these saddle problems may improve or eliminate bad behavior as well as lameness problems. Some horses endure the pain without complaint. Other signs to look for are; uneven sweat marks when you remove the pad, white patches of hair showing up on the back where there was no inury, not performing to their abilities. These problems along with, early fatigue, unexplained body soreness, crankiness, tail wringing, refusals, uneven leads, uneven diagonals, weak behind(hocks/legs), loss of lateral flexibility, among other problems, can be caused by the same muscle stress that causes problems in humans. Constant pressure over-stimulates muscle groups, reducing muscle efficiency, especially in pelvic girdle muscles(rear end), forcing horses on the forehand favoring leads and diagonals, among other things.

If your horse shows uneven conformation as virtually all horses do, you will see immediatly why saddles cant fit horses on both sides. Even worse, with riders mounted, saddles roll, placing more weight on lower shoulder muscles, which are very large, important muscle groups. This constant stress interferes with proper blood flow and blocks certian reflex centers, causing imparied function. Trying to escape this pressure, horses pull affected shoulders further down. This unnatural motion not only promotes muscle shrinkage, but causes mechanical imbalance, stressing the entire equine body, especially the rear. A stressed, unbalanced horse can no longer be a free flowing, supple mover and can never reach its full potential.

Saddle fitting leads to good performance, which is dependent on a good fit no matter what discipline. Your saddle should be checked regularly to assure changes in your horse have not caused fitting problems. This should be done with an onsite visit to an experienced saddler.

Thanks to Saddle Right, Inc for allowing the use of their web page to help with this article. You may visit them through our home page.

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