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Saddle Fitting

Once the skeletal frame is realigned and the muscles and soft tissues release the muscles in the back build up and strengthen the frame. However, this can only happen with a well-balanced saddle.

Unbalanced saddles can pinch the horse, causing noticeable pressure points and areas that are sore to touch. Less obvious, is that tightly fitted saddles can cause the back muscles to weaken and if uncorrected permanent damage can occur.

"I treat many horses that are weak in the back, and all too often this weakness is caused by a tightly fitted saddle which not only restricts the horses’ movement, but can actually cause muscle atrophy (wastage) and can permanently damage the horses back."

cob with weakened back

Cob with a weakened back. Note the dip under the saddle area and the roaching at the back of the saddle.

Signs of an unbalanced saddle include:

Behavioural signs:

Performance signs:

When back issues occur, the back is weakened over time and the saddle is often narrowed to fit the horse. This in itself can make the back weaker.

The cycle of back weakness

the cylce of horse back weakeness

At back-in-line we are taking a different approach. We want to encourage the back to strengthen, not just through treatment but through a correctly fitted well balanced saddle.

This is achieved by allowing the back muscles to build up under the saddle, and encouraging the horse to move through its back. The back becomes stronger, the top line increases, stride become longer and ultimately performance improves. Of course you will also have a horse that is happier and more comfortable to ride!

Breaking the cycle of back weakness

breaking the cycle of horse back weakness

before treatment and remedial saddle fitting

"A well fitted saddle is key to a healthy back and a happy horse"

Fat Pads? Not necessarily

The picture above is an example of what some people think of as 'fat pad', and in some cases this may be the case. However, in this case and many others 'lumps' here indicate the muscles in the back are not working correctly. Here, the cause is the saddle which is too narrow tipping the rider forwards in the seat. This has the effect of concentrating the rider's weight too far back in the saddle, rather than evenly throughout the panels. The knock on effect for the horse is that the back muscles are not able to contract and relax correctly, and 'dips' and 'lumps' for along the back. Notice arrow A is pointing to a dip in the back directly under the saddle, and arrow B is pointing to muscle tension behind the saddle. Any lump along the back whether true 'fat pads' or muscle tension should not be ignored!

Saddle checks are FREE with back treatments.

Your existing saddle can be checked and if necessary rebalanced. Alternatively you and your horse can try one of our ultra-soft and comfortable saddles.


Sam Barrett (McTimoney Therapist and Saddle Fitter) 0797 4826936
Sam Loveridge (Saddle Fitter) 07882 693106

Saddle Fitting Testimonials

Horse Diagnosed with Kissing Spines

Sam Barrett was recommended to me by the Saddle Company after I expressed an interest in their saddles. My eventer Murphy had been though Kissing Spine surgery as a last resort to try and stem his constant bucking and general unhappiness when ridden. I had spent somewhere in the region of £12,000 on just about every saddle imaginable and had dragged poor Murph from one end of the country to the other seeing various Master Saddlers, all to no avail. Eventually I settled on a badly fitting Wintec with various pads and Murph was 'Loss of Use-ed' as he would only hack. His behaviour in the school continued to manifest itself as violent bucking and a refusal to move forward.

I remained unhappy about his poor saddle fit and finally came across The Saddle Company and Sam. She was very happy to listen about how I felt as a rider and the issues that Murph had had in the past. She immediately saw that a 17” saddle was too long for him (despite being 17hh!!) and suggested a 16.5” saddle with a widened gullet to clear his spinal scarring and a drop panel to sort out his wither issues. None of these had been suggested in the past, despite me having some of the biggest ‘names’ in the business out to see him.

I received the saddle (and Sam to do some final adjustments) 2 weeks later. Immediately (and I genuinely mean immediately) Murphy started to work through his back and attempted an outline – something he had been able to do for around 3-4 years. Within 2 weeks we were cantering and jumping in the school, again he had been unable to do this for a considerable period of time.

6 months on and Murph is better than he has ever been. It is possible that the KS had in fact been manifested through his continual poor saddle fitting, and other saddlers’ inability to pick up that despite his size, he was hopelessly short-backed. It is even possible he may not have needed to have the surgery, had he had a correctly fitted saddle. He is now working through his back in a consistent outline and jumping happily. We have started jumping competitively again and he stormed round the local cross country course like a champion.

When I asked Sam to look at Murphy, I had hoped to get a comfortable happy hacker. Instead, I now have my competition horse back, something I hadn’t even dared dream would be possible. I believe that Sam’s diligent and thorough approach to saddling combined with her chiropractic experience makes her the best saddler I have encountered – and I have had a fair few!! I would not trust either of my horses with anyone else and I am a sworn convert to The Saddle Company too!

AMM (New Forest)