Does your saddle need flocking or adjustment?
Most saddles can be adjusted to some degree – it’s up to us to determine that our horse’s saddle is a bit wonky, and then we need to do something about it. Depending on the saddle style and internal components, you can make changes if the saddle needs flocking or adjustments.
- Proper flocking in your saddle makes things comfortable for your horse. It distributes the weight of the saddle and rider evenly, avoiding painful pressure points. Flocking can also ensure YOU are comfortable in the saddle and your body and legs are in an optimal position.
- A general rule of thumb is having your saddle fitter peek at your saddle every six months. YES – every six months. Your horse’s body is always changing – either gaining muscle or fat, or losing it. It can be seasonal, too, or directly related to his exercise program.
- Also – flocking is wool stuffing. Think about your favorite sofa pillow – over time, the fluffy insides start to squash and must be fluffed up again.
Regularly inspect the underside of your horse’s saddle for dents, divots, weird things, shifting padding.
You need to have your saddle worked on by a Saddle Fitter if:
- The saddle is slipping to one side or the other
- The saddle is sliding forward or backward
- It’s been about six months
- You are using your saddle on a new horse
- Your horse is acting out, not performing well, seems off, or doesn’t truly want to work.
Inspect your horse’s saddle
- Place your saddle on your horse without a pad and without a girth. Ensure you can put 2-3 fingers between your horse’s withers and the saddle’s pommel. If you can’t, it’s time to call your saddle fitter.
- You should also consider that a saddle on a young horse, and a horse returning from a long layup, should be looked at frequently, perhaps every three months.
- For older, more seasoned, or “going” horses, once a year is suitable for a visit from the saddle fitter. Always listen to your horse!
Your saddle, deconstructed.
What if the tree doesn’t fit?
- This is really a question for your saddle fitter. Part of a saddle fitter’s bank of knowledge is knowing the shape and size of the tree in the saddle. Some companies use many different trees in varying shapes. Other saddle makers use only two or three tree shapes and then vary the panel, flap, and knee roll designs.
- Depending on the make of the saddle, you do have options when it comes to the tree.
- Your saddle fitter may be able to adjust the tree if the shape is correct, but the size is not. Additionally, it’s possible that flocking can be added or taken out to accommodate the shape difference. Your saddle fitter needs to see your horse to decide the best course of action.
What about adding padding or shims?
- Well – this is either a good idea or a bad one. Sometimes, adding padding, numnahs, or shims is the equivalent of adding more socks to shoes that are too tight. The saddle balance may be thrown off, or the padding forces the rider into a slightly different position that may not work.
- Shims and pads are sometimes great, especially if the saddle can’t be adjusted to fit your horse completely. Most saddle fitters can help you find the best pad and saddle situation.
- Ideally, we want the saddle to fit the horse without additional padding or shims. But for many reasons – the saddle, the horse’s back, or our budgets won’t allow that. Shimming may be the best solution.
For more on saddle pad placement, this article has you covered.
Saddle fit basics
How to place your saddle pads for maximum wither comfort
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