While most people go to great lengths to find the perfect saddle fit for their equine companion, decoding the vague rules of rider fit can become confusing at best. While measuring yourself for your new saddle may seem an odd concept to many, your comfort while riding is just as important as the comfort of your horse. Too small or too large a saddle causes an uneven distribution of your weight, resulting in painful pressure points along your horse's spine and withers.
Place a chair, preferably one without arms and a relatively straight back, on a hard, level surface. A tile, concrete or wood floor will serve best.
Sit on the chair with your back against the chair back and your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Your hip and thigh should form a right angle, as should the bend of your knee.
Measure from the point of your hip (where the bone protrudes slightly) to the back of your knee. Enlist the help of a third party to help keep your angles true. Use this measurement as the deciding factor in choosing an English saddle.
Write down the measurement from Step 3. According to a helpful chart at Thorowgood's website, if your femur-length measures 20 inches, begin your search with 16.5-inch saddles. This measurement determines where your knee falls when properly seated. It must rest against the knee roll, with your lower leg falling at a natural angle and your heel coming to rest slightly behind the horse's girth.
Stand with your feet at hips' width apart. Measure from your crotch to your ankle bone. This is your inseam and determines the fender length for western- and endurance-style saddles, which focus more on leg length and a standardised seat size than leg placement. The larger the seat, the longer the stirrup, which causes issues for some. If you carry your weight in your seat but have a short leg, finding a saddle that fits can prove difficult. Conversely, no seat to speak of and a very long leg also causes problems with fit. Tucker Saddles suggest that those with an inseam of 28 inches or less buy a short fender, and those with an inseam of 32 inches or greater buy a long fender.
If shopping for an English saddle, focus on both comfort and posture. If shopping for a western or endurance saddle, focus on comfort, as it pertains to stirrup length and seat angle and depth. Ideally, invite your trainer or an experienced saddle fitter to accompany you.
No "one-size-fits-all" exists in the tack world. Try many different sizes and styles to find your personal "perfect fit."
Tips and warnings
- If shopping for an English saddle, focus on both comfort and posture.
- If shopping for a western or endurance saddle, focus on comfort, as it pertains to stirrup length and seat angle and depth.
- Ideally, invite your trainer or an experienced saddle fitter to accompany you.
- No "one-size-fits-all" exists in the tack world. Try many different sizes and styles to find your personal "perfect fit."