Q - I have two horses and they seem fairly similar in size, can I use one saddle on both horses?
A - If the horses are approximately one tree width narrower or wider than each other, it is quite likely that you can get one saddle to fit adequately well. First fit the wider horse for the tree width and pad for the narrower horse. Your padding adjustments will artificially build up the narrower horses body to become more substantial, so that it can accommodate the wider tree. This padding can be done by using: a ½ fleece pad, an extra square pad of the same size and shape or a square pad with fleece attached would work just to name a few. The wider horse in this scenario would be using a plain square dressage pad.
Q - My horse has suddenly stopped performing well, he seems resistant and unhappy. Could it be my saddle? Should I get it checked?
A - There are a few things that we should review when considering the saddle as the cause for immediate concern. Is your horse sore when you groom him or palpate his back with long stroking motion with the pads of your fingers? Do you notice his coat having friction rubs on it or wear marks? Have you noticed movement in the saddle where it rocks or slips around or makes you feel out of balance? Are you having trouble maintaining your position where before it was relatively easy? Answering yes to any of these questions creates obvious reasons to have your saddle evaluated.
Your saddle is just one piece of the larger puzzle when evaluating a horses unwillingness to work – but it is an easy thing to have assessed and eliminated as the source of the problem when on your road to discovering the underlying reasons for discomfort.
Q - How often do I need to have my saddle re-fitted?
A - The basic answer will be it depends upon how much you ride. It is like your car, how many miles you put on it determines how often your 3000-mile oil change is due.
General guidelines for the timing of your saddle evaluation:
My professional riders who are creating a great deal of change in their horses, especially young horses, may require 3 month visits. This keeps them as perfect as they would like!
Serious riders that ride 5 - 7 times a week, 45 – 60 minutes a day will find tune ups helpful at 6 – 9 month intervals.
Pleasure or more casual riders that work hard to ride 2-3 times a week can usually feel great in their saddle with a 9 – 12 month schedule.
To name a few variables that contribute to more frequent saddle evaluations could include: the always changing young horse, the angular horse that is a bit bonier – cannot hold the saddle up as well so his less padded body is more effected than a rounder horse, a horse that has changed his training program, a horse returning to work after a layup and an over and underweight horse whose weight is not consistent.
This timeline applies to saddles that are flocked to be soft, resilient, well balanced and well tuned for top saddle performance.