Hello, Are you having western saddle fitting issues? You’re not alone!
Western saddle fitting issues can be really confusing and even frustrating at times.

Does your saddle look comfortable when it’s on your horses back?
“Have you ever thought to yourself while saddling your horse”. “Am I putting the saddle too far forward or too far backward?” I will try to help you solve your frustrations with western saddle fitting issues today.

Help Me! What Am I Doing Wrong?

You are not doing anything wrong! you can’t fix what you don’t know. Right? I will help you with a few basic pointers to help you better understand how your saddle should look when sitting on your horses back. Western saddle fitting issues is one of those things that is overthought. I have been there and still struggle to find the right fit. I believe that there is no horse owner that has never had a perfect fit.

Step Back Take A Breather And Think About It This Way

My shoes are too tight.
Think of your horse’s saddle as your shoes. If you put shoes on your feet that fit too small, they are going to feel uncomfortable and will be too tight and create pressure and pain. At the end of the day, your feet will be sore if you continue wearing them. Then you are going to be irritable, and you are not going to want to stand on your feet want anyone to touch them.

The next day if someone walked up to you with those same shoes in their hand and wanted you to put them back on. Would you? knowing what the outcome was going to be. Your horse doesn’t forget and your horse is going to have an attitude with you. He isn’t going to stand still while you put that saddle on his back. Then what do you do? you get mad at your horse and yell or smack him. The end result is you possibly get thrown off your horse. It’s not his fault. It would be yours.

My shoes are too big. 

You put a pair of shoes that are too big. What happens? Right! when you walk and move around they are going to move and flop around on your feet. If you continue to wear them you will start to feel pain on your feet and be uncomfortable. At the end of the day when you take those shoes off, you are foin to have sores and blisters.

The next day someone walks up to you with the same shoes and wants you to put them on. “You say no way” A saddle that is too big for your horse is going to do the same thing to your horses back and your horse is not going to want that same saddle put on his back or at this point he is not going to want anything on his back because he is going to have saddle sores from the saddle sliding on his back and rubbing off his hair and causing sores. Therefore he shouldn’t have anything or anyone on his back until he heals. You should put ointment on the sores to help keep insects off and possibly ettin infected.

Not every saddle will have the same measurements because different saddle makers have different gullet measurements specifically for their saddle tree.saddle fitting issues

Years ago when these terms were the “normal” fit for a horse, there were not many options to turn to and since then so much has changed. Saddle makers now try to accommodate for many different horse body types as well as the riding discipline. So when trying to find a well-fitted saddle, take all this into consideration.

The saddles are not bein made right for the fit of different shaped horses. They are stiff. ettin the better quality saddles range around $1000,00 and up, to where the cheaper saddles can range around $150.00 and up. A big difference in dollars. That’s why a  lot of people will buy the cheaper saddle hoping they can make it work. I am also one of the cheaper buyers. You’ve heard the saying, “get what you pay for”. It’s true!

There are two general terms used for western saddles when measuring the width of the gullet…western saddle fitting issues

quarter horse bars
Full- quarter horse bars

Generally: semi- QH bars measure around 6 3/4 inches wide at the gullet and full- QH bars measures a minimum of 7 inches.
semi-QH bars fit the more refined horses such as Arabians or Thoroughbreds.
Full-QH bars fit the stockier, mutton withered horses such as Quarter horses. Of course, that doesn’t apply for every horse.

Does your saddle fit?

When putting your saddle on your horse to figure out if your saddle fits properly, it should have good placement, levelness and all around balance. The bars of the saddle tree should have even contact and pressure on your horse’s back (spine).

 without a saddle pad. .Place the saddle on your horses back. The saddle should sit right behind the scapula (shoulder blade). If the saddle is too far forward it will create pressure and reduce the range of motion and movement. 

For the pommel, the general rule is at least two fingers horizontally in between the wither of your horse and the height of the pommel.
Next, run your fingers from the gullet of the saddle down your horse’s shoulder where the saddle widens. 

The saddle should be flesh all the way down. If the saddle tilts forward and the pommel is sitting on top of the withers, then your saddle may be too wide. If there is no room for your fingers to slide down in between the saddle and your horse, and the saddle is pinching, your saddle may be too narrow.

The bars of the tree should also not exceed the 18th rib:
A way of knowing where the 18th rib is is where the hairline changes just before the flank/hip area. You may also feel them going from the flank toward the ribs.

Some horses have higher withers, sway back or the muscles in the back may be weak due to lack of exercise. Whatever the case may be, this will cause bridging.
Bridging is when there is pressure in the front of the saddle and pressure on the back of the saddle, creating a gap between your horse and the saddle. (there are therapeutic and bridging pad available to purchase, I will discuss more on this later).

Saddle pads/Blankets Can Have A Negative Fit With The Saddle You Use :

The type of blanket you use may also affect the way your saddle fits. When saddles are too narrow in the gullet, many believe, to resolve the issue is to double up your saddle pads and think this may not pinch and put pressure on your horse’s withers.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Remember the example I gave you of the shoes?
Okay, well imagine if you double up your socks put another shoe over the shoes that are already too tight. What’re the results going to be? The shoes will be even tighter and more uncomfortable and more painful.

Therapeutic pads work really well for any horse but especially horses with a heavy workload. Therapeutic pads help prevent the horse’s back from getting sore and allow even pressure through the entire area as well as compensate for any flaws in a saddle.
Bridge pads. Bridging pads are for the purpose of filling the gap between your horse and the saddle to make full contact.

“Saddle Gullet Sizes”
Easy Change in the gullet

western saddle fitting issue

I was finishing up this article when I came across this tool. How nice, I haven’t bought one yet, but I will be soon, and I will let you know.

As of right now, I don’t know how well these work except for the reviews it shows at the bottom of the picture. So I say click on the images and buy one. If you do please come back with a review. Shop HorseLoverZ Today!

Thank you for your interest in Western Saddle Fitting Issues.
I hope this information is useful to you.
This page is only intended for informational purposes.
Always consult your trainer or your vet for further advice.

My Mare Cinny (left) Her baby Taiga(right)
My Mare Cinny (left)
Her baby Taiga(right)

Please leave any questions, comments, thoughts, or reviews you may have.
Thank You!  Michelle


2 thoughts on “Western Saddle Fitting Issues

  • 03/10/2016 at 4:36 pm

    LOL! thank you Eddy for the comment on my horse site. You are welcome for the teaching lol. Michelle

  • 03/10/2016 at 4:10 pm


    I never knew there was such a science to putting a Saddle on horse. You think it’s just a matter of throwing it on the horses back and calling it day. But you definitely dispelled that thought process with this article.

    Thanks for teaching a city boy something new about horses! lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.