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How Do I Measure A Horse For A Saddle

How Do I Measure A Horse For A Saddle

Choosing the right saddle for your horse is crucial for their comfort and performance. A well-fitted saddle can prevent discomfort, pain, and even long-term damage to your horse’s back. To ensure a proper fit, it is essential to measure your horse accurately. In this article, we will guide you through the process of measuring a horse for a saddle, providing valuable insights and tips to help you make an informed decision.

Why is Measuring a Horse for a Saddle Important?

Measuring your horse for a saddle is essential for several reasons:

  • Comfort: A well-fitted saddle ensures your horse’s comfort during rides, preventing discomfort and pain.
  • Performance: A properly fitting saddle allows your horse to move freely and perform at their best.
  • Prevention of Injuries: An ill-fitting saddle can cause pressure points, muscle soreness, and even long-term damage to your horse’s back.
  • Longevity: A saddle that fits correctly will distribute the rider’s weight evenly, reducing the risk of wear and tear on the saddle and ensuring its longevity.

Measuring the Horse for a Saddle

Measuring a horse for a saddle involves several key measurements. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Determine the Horse’s Back Length

Start by measuring the horse’s back length, which is the distance from the withers to the last rib. Use a flexible measuring tape and place it along the horse’s spine, following the contour of their back. Ensure the tape is snug but not too tight. Record the measurement in inches or centimeters.

2. Measure the Gullet Width

The gullet width is the space between the horse’s withers. It is crucial to ensure that the saddle’s gullet width matches the horse’s wither width to avoid pressure points and discomfort. To measure the gullet width, use a flexible measuring tape and place it horizontally across the withers, ensuring it sits just above the highest point. Record the measurement.

3. Determine the Shoulder Angle

The shoulder angle is an important measurement to consider when fitting a saddle. It determines the angle at which the saddle tree should be shaped to accommodate the horse’s shoulder movement. To measure the shoulder angle, use a flexible curve ruler or a piece of wire. Place it along the horse’s shoulder blade, following its contour. Record the angle.

4. Assess the Back Shape

Understanding your horse’s back shape is crucial for selecting the right saddle. Horses can have various back shapes, including flat, slightly curved, or highly curved. Assess your horse’s back shape by visually examining it and feeling for any prominent withers or dips. This information will help you choose a saddle with the appropriate tree shape.

5. Consider the Horse’s Weight and Build

The horse’s weight and build also play a role in saddle fitting. Horses with a heavier build may require a wider saddle tree to distribute the weight evenly. Consider your horse’s weight, body condition, and overall build when selecting a saddle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. How often should I measure my horse for a saddle?

It is recommended to measure your horse for a saddle at least once a year. However, if your horse undergoes significant changes in weight, muscle development, or overall shape, it is advisable to measure more frequently.

2. Can I use a saddle that doesn’t fit perfectly?

Using a saddle that doesn’t fit properly can lead to discomfort, pain, and even long-term damage to your horse’s back. It is crucial to invest in a well-fitted saddle to ensure your horse’s well-being and performance.

3. Should I measure my horse with or without a saddle pad?

When measuring your horse for a saddle, it is best to measure without a saddle pad. Saddle pads can add extra bulk, potentially affecting the fit of the saddle.

4. Can I use the same saddle for multiple horses?

While it is possible to use the same saddle for multiple horses, it is essential to ensure that the saddle fits each horse properly. Sharing a saddle between horses with significantly different back shapes or sizes can lead to discomfort and potential injury.

5. Should I consult a professional saddle fitter?

Consulting a professional saddle fitter can be highly beneficial, especially if you are unsure about measuring your horse accurately or if your horse has specific fitting requirements. A professional saddle fitter can provide expert advice and help you find the perfect saddle for your horse.

6. Can I adjust the saddle to fit my horse?

Some saddles offer adjustable features, such as interchangeable gullet plates or adjustable tree widths, allowing you to customize the fit to some extent. However, it is important to note that these adjustments have limits, and a poorly fitting saddle cannot be fixed solely through adjustments.


Measuring a horse for a saddle is a crucial step in ensuring their comfort, performance, and overall well-being. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can accurately measure your horse and make an informed decision when selecting a saddle. Remember to consider factors such as back length, gullet width, shoulder angle, back shape, and the horse’s weight and build. Additionally, consulting a professional saddle fitter can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the process. Investing in a well-fitted saddle will not only benefit your horse but also enhance your riding experience.