I have been riding for around 23 years now and I have been training for nearly 18 years. I have taken lessons and continue to do so, but one thing I was never formally taught about was saddle fitting. I have ridden saddle seat on Saddlebreds and TWH, I have ridden western in western saddles with a horn and endurance saddles, but I have never ridden hunt seat with english saddles. So recently due to my daughters love of hunt seat and eventing I decided to take lessons in hunt seat also. This brings me to the saddle fitting experience. In all my lessons I have always been told how to put the saddle on and where it should fit on the horse, but was never taught the why’s and wherefore’s of saddle fitting.
In my learning experience with my daughter finding the perfect english saddle she talked about a narrow twist, medium tree, etc. But even she couldn’t tell me exactly what to look for. I went online and found a wonderful site that explains how the saddle should fit to YOU and your HORSE. It is all about balance, comfort and performance. Here is what I learned for me. I need an english saddle sized 17 or 17.5. Saddles sized 16 and under are generally for youth, size 18 is for larger adults. I need a saddle that lets me balance on my seat bone, not my pubic crest. The saddle should also have a 6″ – 7″ in distance between the stirrup bars and the deepest part of the seat. The saddle should have a narrow twist, a wide twist is generally made for a man in that men’s and women’s femurs slope differently from their pelvic bones. With the breed I ride, a saddle with a traditional panel will work well with my horses. A gusset panel will fit a warmblood better in that their backs generally do not slope quite so much from the withers. Now I don’t have enough room here to explain all this, so I am suggesting a good site for this explanation. http://www.showhorsepromotions.com/saddlefitting.htm
If this sparks your interest then here is a youtube video I found very, very informative in saddle fitting. This video done by Dr. Robson fully explains how and where a saddle should fit on your horse and why. She discuss briefly the pain associated with improper saddle fitting and how to recognize this and find the muscles and nerves under the saddle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40WzB00NhF8
Take the time to ensure you and your horse have a safer and more comfortable ride. This also will significantly improve your horses performance. Happy Trails!