Saddles and Sore Backs

While you may not understand the root cause of some behavioral issues in your horse, many of them can be attributed to the pain or discomfort caused by ill-fitting tack.  Quite often this is one of the last places people look because they have "been using that saddle for a long time.”

Problems associated with ill-fitting tack can result in any of the following: balking while going up and down hills, failure to pick up a certain lead, shying, rearing, bucking, not wanting to be caught, nipping during saddling, sore muscles, walking away while you mount, resistance to crossing certain objects, avoiding jumps, and a host of other unpleasant behaviors.

Here is how it often works:  

You owe it to the horse to get the best possible fitting saddle that you can afford.  The best way is to have a saddle made for the horse if you are going to keep him for a long time.  The second best way is to have your horse professionally fitted for a saddle and then look for a used saddle in that same make and size. 

So how do you tell if a saddle fits?  Let’s first define some saddle fitting terms:

Here are a number of techniques that may help you check the fit of a saddle on your horse: 

You can not cure most ill fitting saddles with padding.  Too much padding is often worse than not enough, as it causes the saddle to rock back and forth by lifting it off of the horse’s back.  Half-padding does not work either, as this invariably causes a shelf between where the extra padding ends and the full pad continues. Neoprene promotes too much heat on the back, causing excessive sweating and perhaps chafing. Foam can react this way, as well,   Some gel pads may provide minimal comfort; however, those that are not designed to breath effectively can cause overheating as with the neoprene noted previously.   While some of these products may be acceptable in the show ring or for short rides, they can cause heat-related problems when used for extended periods of time.

A good wool felt pad or some of the specialty pads can help, but saddle fit is most important.  Think of it like your shoe: too many socks don't help the fit; too warm a sock (neoprene) doesn't help; an extra half-sock only bunches up…  I think you get the idea.

Put a lot of thought into proper saddle fitting before you buy, and ask someone who knows.  A comfortable horse is a cooperative horse and, in the long run, a much healthier horse

If you are interested in ordering a custom western saddle, please contact Sandy Siegrist at 425-830-6260.

Also, visit our saddle maker at:





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