Saddle fit vs Saddle fashion

By GEORGIE WELGE

So many people approach the topic of saddle fit with apprehension.  The overwhelming number of opinions, clever marketing techniques, frequently combined with inadequate education on the biomechanics of how the horse, rider and saddle interact dynamically for good posture of both, has frequently led us to a “fashion over fit” culture versus “welfare of the horse and rider”.

 

Saddle Fit vs Saddle Fashion

 

We live in a brand orientated world today, where fashion and fads frequently overcome common sense or education. Marketing and advertising are an everyday part of life, it’s on the radio, the TV etc. Even our social media platforms allow our data to be collected, providing advertisers a way of knowing exactly what we are looking at. Marketing is unavoidable.  

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FIT!

However, when it comes to saddles and saddle fitting, it is so important to remember that brand or price do NOT equal fit!!   WIthout a proper fit, the welfare of both horse and rider is at risk, maybe not immediately, but as compensatory patterns become embedded, the path to behavior and lameness problems is a slippery slope.

There is but a handful of manufacturers that are able to offer the choice to fit all horses. It is a difficult process to know which manufacturers these are. This is one of the many reasons for employing the help of an independent saddle fitter.

Saddle fit versus Saddle Fashion

Above left: Saddle is too long.  Above right: Issues caused by saddle movement

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN EVALUATING SADDLES

Navigating the treacherous landscape of saddle selection is no easy task, but here are some things to bear in mind when evaluating your current saddle or looking to buy a new saddle:

FACT – There are thousands of different types of tree and options within tree types out there and even though trees are categorized as Narrow, Medium and Wide, the truth of the matter is that the actual measurements of these trees vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

FACT – Price does not equate to fit – it is your saddle fitter, their qualifications, experience and ethics/motivation are key to the success of your saddle fitting outcome.

FACT – you can get a proper fitting and comfortable saddle for $1200 – $3000 so that should that be your budget.

WHEN IT COMES TO SADDLE FITTING, CHOOSE FIT BEFORE FASHION

If you like a particular brand or want lots of bells and whistles and have the budget for it, then buy what you like so long as it fits you and your horse. Just understand what you are paying for and what, if any, difference it makes.

At Equitopia,  we would encourage the development of truly independent and well educated saddle fitters who could carry a wide array of saddles and brands, and let the customer choose according to their preferences and budget but choose firstly for FIT!

For any saddle brands who just have reps – why not allow well educated and experienced independent saddle fitters to carry not only your brand, but others? It would save on marketing campaigns that claim that this saddle brand is better than that with every brand sounding equally confident that their saddles are the only ones that work and, instead, allow saddle fitters to choose whatever brand fits for the customer, their horse and their budget. This only serves to elevate the brands and industry itself as most brands that we have experience with will work well if fitted correctly.

So please, please, please, check that the purchase you are about to make actually does the job it is intended for. Make sure it allows your horse to move freely, in balance and you’re balanced with that horse.

Look out for more from Georgie Welge  in March, including a webinar and short course for owners.

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