Saddle fitting advice
A new saddle is likely to be one of the most expensive items you buy for your horse. In a well-fitting saddle your horse will be able to move freely and, by using his back muscles correctly, he'll develop a rounded, properly-balanced outline.
A badly-fitting saddle can do a lot of damage, leading to behavioral problems or lameness. "Every horse deserves a well-fitting saddle, no matter how much he costs or what work he's doing." says Ken Lyndon-Dykes, a saddle fitter who's been in the business for 26 years.
The best way to make sure your saddle fits is to have it checked by an experienced saddle fitter who'll advise you on alterations or help you choose a new one. We spent a day with Ken to find out how he helps owners pick the right saddle.
Ken Lyndon-Dykes has supplied and fitted saddles to Olympic team riders and members of the Royal family.
First things first
There are some things your saddle fitter will need to know before he visits your horse to fit a new saddle. When you book an appointment, make sure you tell him:
Your horse's age
Young horses are likely to fill out and develop muscle, whereas older horses may lose condition and muscle tone.
The breed of your horse
This gives the saddle fitter an indication of the type of saddle which may suit your horse. For example, a thoroughbred is a very different shape from a warmblood.
The type of riding you plan to do in it
It is important to let the saddle fitter know whether you need a dressage, jumping or general purpose saddle.
Your horse's level of fitness
Saddle fitters prefer to fit a saddle when the horse is competition fit. A saddle bought when he's fat and unfit may not fit when he's slim and competing.
The saddle fitter will need your height, weight and age. Tell him if you have any special features such as long legs.
Let him know if you want a second-hand or new saddle and if you have any personal preferences for manufacturers.
With this information he'll be able to select the right type, size and make of saddles to bring for you to try.