February 2018

  Sam Minnich Papalimu, Specialized/TW Saddlery Rep from Clark, Colorado & I had a fantastic time spreading the word about how proper saddle fit affects our horse's behavior, performance and ultimately the health of horse and rider at the Southern Equine Expo this past weekend in Murfreesboro. I was so excited to see so many come to the presentations and I loved talking with everyone that came to the booth with questions. Here are the 2 most asked questions.

  The number 1 most asked question was "How do you know if your saddle fits?" Answer. Not by the sweat patterns! Diagnosing saddle fit with a picture or a sweat pattern is like sending a picture to the doctor. Gentry had a fever last week, can you imagine how ridiculous and down right dangerous it would be to ask a Doctor for a diagnosis from a picture? Yet that is exactly what a lot of riders are doing.

  To evaluate your saddle fit, we have a check list of areas to check and then we ride. Some saddles look great while the horse is standing still but don't work so well while we are riding. They have to fit while the horse is moving. This is a long process that takes at least an hour. It is not new. This list was published in the cavalry handbook in 1914!

  • Saddle Balance and Tree Width: Too high in front equals too narrow tree, too low in front equals too wide tree.
  • Wither Clearance: There must be clearance at the top and sides of the withers usually 3 fingers to protect the horse's spinal ligament system and the vertebrae processes. (this is what everyone thinks of as the spine) NO PRESSURE ON THE SPINE
  • Shoulder Angle: The shoulder angle must match the tree angle to allow the shoulder to pass underneath the front of the saddle without damaging the delicate shoulder cartilage.
  • Billet Alignment: When the saddle is placed on the horse in the "sweet spot" the billets should hang about 4 fingers past the elbow. A girth that is back too far will drag the saddle forward then the shoulders will kick it back then the girth will pull it forward. back and forth, back and forth every step equals girth sores
  • Saddle Length: The saddle tree or weight bearing surface should not go past the horse's last rib unless the tree is designed with adequate flare. The center of the seat should place the rider at the base of the withers.
  • Panel Contact: The saddle panels or bars should allow the horse to carry 1-2 lbs per square inch.
  • Gullet Width: The gullet needs to be wide enough to allow clearance for the vertebrae and the spinal ligaments. Most horses are 3-4 fingers wide some are 5 fingers wide. No horse is 1-2 fingers wide.

  And the second most asked question "What do you think about treeless saddles?" Answer. The tree is designed to allow the rider to be in the proper shoulder hip heal position, distribute the rider's weight and protect the horse's spinal ligaments and vertebrae. All saddles need to follow the above guidelines whether they are flex, treeless, wood tree, plastic tree or special panels in a pad.

Here is some more great information about treeless.

  There was also some negative things that we saw at the Expo but we are going to keep this positive. Let me just say I applaud the riders that still believe in and practice classical horsemanship which builds up a horse mentally and physically so that they can last a long time. If anyone thinks that it is OK to jerk on a bit until a horse is staring at the ground and his nose is practically touching his chest, I would strongly urge you to read Dr. Gerd Heuschmann's books titled Balancing Act or Tug of War. In these books the veterinarian explains the biomechanics of the horse and how destructive it is to ask a horse to perform this way.

Our next Saddle Fit Class is March 24, 2018 here at the farm on Copperhead Lane. If you want to learn more about how a saddle is suppose to fit, save yourself tons of frustration and money and possibly even some needless suffering.

Come to our one of our Saddle Fit Classes

  And as promised in the subject line I have free gifts! The manufacturer of our wonderful Christ sheepskin girths and pads sent a few free bottles of their shampoo for us to try. So, I am going to share. 1 for me. (Nicholas loves his sheepskin girth and he is a dirty boy)  And the other 2 go to the first 2 Christ girth or pad ordered.


  Usually in my newsletters I focus on saddle fit for our horse's sake but next month I am going to talk about saddle fit for the rider. So, make sure you are on the list and we are not in your spam folder. Until then enjoy the warmer temperatures and happy demudding!

TTYS & God Bless,


Terry Peiper

Fit Right Saddle Solutions

"Spreading the word about how proper saddle fit affects our horse's behavior, performance and ultimately the health of horse and rider."

(717) 609-2822

470 Copperhead Lane

Crossville TN 38571

Located 7 miles north of I-40 on Rt. 127