Bend in half and listen. Check for tearing and grooving.

Check fork by spreading points.
Check cantle by pressure with the heel of your hand.
Check waist by holding the saddle at gullet and cantle and twisting.

Upper Pommel
Check for proper curve, motion side-to-side and back-to-front.

Leaping Pommel
Check for stopping at proper position, and amount of "play."

Breakaway Mechanism
Check for smooth release and use of proper fitting.



1. Determine the horse's shoulder blade, and locate the "pocket" below the point of the wither and behind the shoulder blade.


2. Place the saddle on the horse's back, point of the tree in the "pocket" (easier to see from the off side).


3. With saddle loosely girthed, use your hands to check the fit of the saddle to horse's back.

Run your hand between the saddle and the horse, down each point.

Check near side

Check off side

Run your hand under each side of the panel from waist to cantle.

Check for 2-3 fingers clearance at fork and at cantle.

4. With someone seated in the saddle, check all of the above again.

If the pressure hurts your hand at any point, it hurts the horse more!

A Saddle fits the horse when

1. Your hand can be slid comfortably under all points of contact listed above.
2. Contact is even at all points, distributing rider's weight evenly.
3. Saddle length appropriate to back length.
4. Horse moves freely and comfortably.


©2000-2012   N.E.A. Sidesaddle Assoc. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.

All photographs ©2000  OTBM