About Saddle Fitting

Why is saddle fitting so important?

A fitting saddle supports the rider and is comfortable for the horse. It should distribute the weight of the rider equally along the back of the horse making it easy for the horse to carry the rider correctly. With well-fitting saddle your horse will be able to move freely and show his full potential. It feels like a part of the horse.

An ill-fitting saddle in the other hand, can cause serious injuries for the horse. Just imagine running with shoes that were too small and gave you blisters every time! In addition an unfitting saddle makes it impossible for the rider to find a steady, balanced seat, which blocks fluent communication between the horse and the rider and causes the rider to sit incorrectly

Whether you are a competitive rider or just like to take your horse for trail rides in the nature, a fitting saddle is needed to make the riding experience positive for you and your horse. 


When should I book saddle fitting?

Firstly, it is important to get a new saddle if the old one is not supporting the rider correctly. Feel your seat while riding; do you feel balanced and steady? Also, look at videos or pictures of yourself riding; are you sitting straight and in the middle of the saddle, or does the saddle maybe push you too much to the back or front?

Secondly, a new saddle is important if the old one is not comfortable for the horse. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if the horse is uncomfortable with the saddle he has. The Icelandic horse generally tolerates a lot of pain before showing any symptoms. Many times when the symptoms appear the problem has already gotten serious. This means that the riders and trainers need to pay attention to the signs that the horse might be showing.

Here are some examples of symptoms that might be caused by unfitting saddle:

Physical signs:

  • Swelling along the back

  • Saddle sores 

  • Uneven sweat patterns on the horse or saddle pad after riding

  • Weak topline and lack of muscles in the back

  • Muscle atrophy

Behavioural signs:

  • Horse is restless while being saddled or when mounted, or even tries to kick or bite

  • Biting or kicking when the girth is tightened

  • Excessive rolling to relieve tight muscles in the back 

  • Nervousness when riding

Ridden signs:

  • Horse is not trotting or not picking up canter in one/both directions

  • Horse is stiff to one/both sides

  • Saddle keeps sliding to the sides/forward

  • The horse refuses to go forward, takes off suddenly, bucks or rears when being ridden

  • The horse refuses to stretch down and out or to move in the right form

These signs might all be caused by an unfitting saddle but they can also be caused by various other reasons. These are also not the only reasons why you should consider checking the fit of the saddle for the horse. Keep in mind that your horse's back will constantly develop. This means that a saddle that once was fitting might later become unfitting. Luckily this doesn't always mean you need a completely new saddle: many saddles can be refitted to your horse with easy, inexpensive minor modifications. 

Whatever your problem or reason is don't hesitate to get in contact!

Are you interested to learn more?

Do you want to learn more about saddle fitting and how to help your horse? We are constantly posting educational posts in our Instagram account @hestbak.is. You are also always welcome to send questions by email or to one of our social media accounts.