Basic Saddle Fit Tips: Saddle Length

Just a reminder, I am not a saddle fitter. Just a tack nerd to who loves to learn and share.

Having proper fitting tack is key to having happy, healthy horses. No matter your type of riding, the horse's anatomy that influences saddle fit remains the same. When we start to think about saddle fit we want to first think about the horse's skeleton. 

The thoracic spine is made up of 18 vertebrae and 18 pairs of ribs.  This is the area as a rider we want to sit on.  Like a suspension bridge, the thoracic spine is the strongest part of the horses back. Past the thoracic section of the spine transitions to the lumbar. The horse's lumbar is prone to weakness and injury as it is the most unprotected in the horse's back and allows the most movement. When a horse is strong and carrying themselves properly they will be able to engage their core and lift up and through this section of their back. As rider's it is our job to make sure we are not inhibiting our horse's movement or causing them pain. 

When fitting a saddle you want to ensure that the saddle's weight does not come past the horse's last rib and onto the lumbar section of their spine. You can find this sweet spot by finding your horse's last rib and following it up on the angle to your horse's spine. 

You can also check your horse's back for pain by sliding your fingers down either side of the spine with medium pressure from the withers to the tail. Any muscle drop, spasm, tail swish or sign from the horse is a signal that they have discomfort in their back. 

If you are questioning your saddle if, I would always recommend talking to your horse's health team which should include a vet, saddle fitter and bodyworker. 

Tack Tip Tuesday Saddle Length