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SADDLE FIT: Does Your Saddle Fit?
We are committed to finding, developing, and using tools that give riders data and facts about saddle fit.
We are constantly traveling and fitting saddles on horses. One thing we've learned is that it's extremely difficult to know if a saddle is hurting a horse unless there are gross and obvious signs, such as open sores that indicate saddle fitting problems. Also, unfortunately, most of the best-intentioned people gather data while the horse is standing still.
Saddle fit must be assessed while the rider is in the saddle and the horse is in motion.
There are many tools available to assess saddle fit, ranging from molds, casts, and various devices to pressure-analysis systems. Since molds and measurement devices are used on stationary horses, we're proponents of using pressure-measuring systems that work while the horse is in motion. These systems range from ultra-simple (carpenter's chalk and a white saddle pad) to extremely sophisticated (modified hospital pressure pads tied to computer-collection devices).
Our current favorite saddle fitting tool (which we use in our fittings and also distribute) is the Port Lewis Impression Pad. This saddle pad gives simple data and is relatively easy to read and interpret. It takes only 30 minutes to test the saddle fit, and the pad will absolutely capture and show you high pressure points under a saddle so you can make adjustments to saddle fit accordiigly. The pad is reusable, and while the data it yields is not extremely sophisticated, for the price ($249) it gives useful information about saddle fit while saving hundredsor thousandsof dollars in saddle fitting mistakes. For more information on these pads, or to lease or buy one, contact us.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY SADDLE FITS?
We encounter and solve equine behavior issues every day that are saddle-related, often surprising horse owners who previously believed that their horses had personality or training issues learn that the horse was simply reacting to discomfort from saddle fit. However, before deciding that your saddle is the culprit, you need to be confident that your horse is correctly trimmed or shod, does not need body work, is bitted/bridled appropriately, and has been properly trained. You should also honestly evaluate yourself—your own body symmetry and riding ability—and seek professional help if you think it's called for.
We strongly recommend testing your saddle's fit with tools like the Impression Pad, which are designed to give you data about what is occurring under the saddle while you ride. In addition, there are a number of signs that a saddle fits well:
The ReactorPanel Saddle Company is devoted to helping riders help their horses, which is the reason for our instructive programs. We offer Saddle Fitting Clinics where we assess your horse's saddle and fit you for a ReactorPanel. We also offer Educational Seminars where we teach the basics of saddle fit that are applicable to any saddle.
Click here for information on RP Fitting Clinics and Educational Seminars.