Sunday, July 28, 2013

Video Tutorial: How to Take a Template of Your Horse's Back

The "how to take a template" video is done and up for public viewing!  Huge freakin' kudos to:  1)  My husband Hasso for his professional guidance in piecing this project together, for shooting and editing it, and for his ability to psychically interpret my harum-scarum gesticulating, barking, hooting, and random input.  2)  To Jessica van Eyck of Northshire Farm and her horse Wanted for all their help, and for providing such a lovely location for shooting.  I cannot adequately express my thanks.  You folks freakin' rock.



Anonymous said...


Thank you on behalf of lots of riders. You have created a fabulous resource and I plan to keep it on file fora long Tim!


Anonymous said...

Thank you! Very informative. How important is it that tracing #3 be drawn level on the paper? If the horse is built uphill or downhill, can you tell that from the template or is that done looking at photographs?
Thanks, Robyn

saddlefitter said...

Heather, thanks for the kind words. I have my husband to thank for putting it all together coherently.

Robyn, great question! You can put tracing #3 wherever you like - I usually find that it fits best when you place the curve diagonally on the paper. There is a way that you can reckon dead level, but it requires another piece of equipment for the person doing the template, and it's pretty fiddly. It's far easier to look at a conformation shot of the horse (which I ask to be included with the template) and assess what qualifies as "level" for each topline.

nat said...

So a question I have (and I see this in every saddle fitting or online, or whatever, so not a slight to you specifically..just a nagging issue I have in general), is why no one shows to fit a) saddle on the horses back/bare trees (western or english saddles) b)drawing templates (particularly the last one) with the horse's back RAISED...we always see fit on a standing, neutral horse... I have HUGE issues with saddle fit, as my horse already has a relatively flat (front to back) back, and when she raises her back in proper form, it is flatter yet.. so every saddle I put up there ends up with too much rock, especially when she raises her back. So first thing I do when trying to find a saddle is do a 'belly lift' (fingers under tummy scratching hard, to raise the back up) to raise her back up and see how a saddle fits THEN... often the saddle that might have fit in a neutral position, does not fit at that point. So then we wonder why our horses are hard to collect and get their backs up.... I finally ended up with a custom saddle, and said saddle maker was the first to ask me to lift the horse's back when testing out tree sizes and taking pics of the horse and the like...

saddlefitter said...

Good questions, Nat. One reason that trees aren't commonly used when doing fitting is the panel configuration can have as much (and sometimes more) of an effect on the fit than tree shape - for example, a dippy-backed horse can be fitted with a fairly straight tree if a deeper front panel - like a K or skidrow type - is used.
So if your fitter put a flat tree on your dippy-backed horse and it wound up bridging, you might question its suitability. Another reason is that a good fitter should be familiar enough with the trees used in the saddles they're selling (or recommending) to know which would suit best without having to carry them around. Finally, trees are expensive to buy (a couple hundred dollars or more each) and awkward to carry around.

As far as taking a tracing of the horse's back when it's raised, some folks do that - it's a bit more work, and can be difficult to take accurately. When I'm doing a fitting, I often tickle the belly to lift the back and note the extent of the change. However, it can be a false indication of what your horse's back does when s/he is actually moving - for example, most endurance and trail horses don't have as much lift in their backs when they work as dressage horses do. I think active fit is the real test - having the horse and rider try the saddle under real-life conditions. That's the philosophy behind the one week trial policy. Glad you were able to get your fitting issues resolved!