Monday, February 2, 2009

"The Heavy Seven" revisited

Since access to the blog archives seems sporadic, I'm going to re-post my entry, "The Heavy Seven", which covers the seven basic points of saddle fitting.

When it comes to saddle fitting, everyone has an opinion, and it can sometimes be tough to get much of a consensus. Theories abound regarding tree shape, panel shape, foam panels vs. wool flock vs. synthetic flock, you name it - and most fitters will happily debate different viewpoints ad nauseum. But there are seven points regarding saddle fitting put forward by the Society of Master Saddlers that are generally accepted as truths. So here are "The Heavy Seven" (how many of you remember that George Carlin riff?) of saddle fitting.

1) The points of the tree must lie parallel (or within 10% of parallel) to the horse's back - not the shoulder, but the back. Points of the tree and angle of the back are highlighted in red:

This means the tree width is correct. Here is a tree that's too narrow (angles highlighted in green):

#2) There must be even pressure under the tree points from top to bottom. In the photo above, there will be more pressure toward the bottom of the points; if the tree's too narrow, the pressure will be greater at the top of the points.
#3) The channel between the panels must clear the spinous process.

#4) There must be adequate clearance between the gullet and the withers. "Adequate" will vary from horse to horse - sometimes it will be 3 fingers, sometimes 1. "Adequate" just means that the saddle is sitting in correct balance and at no time makes contact with the withers.

#5) Balance of the saddle must be correct, with the deepest part of the seat being the lowest point. Here's a saddle with the balance point too far to the rear as a result of a too-narrow tree:

Here's a saddle with correct balance:

#6) The panels must make even contact with the horse's back, with no bridging or rocking.

#7) The tree of the saddle cannot extend past the 18th thoracic vertebrae, which is the location of the last rib and therefore the last part of the back capable of bearing weight.

So there you have the seven basic points. Next entry, I'll go into greater detail on each point.

1 comment:

serensk said...

Lovely blog (all of it), thank you!!!