About Saddle fit

I get a LOT of inquiries from clients who think their horses just require a SQHB or FQHB, a 7-inch gullet etc.

So let me try to explain this.

SQHB, QHB, FQHB is merely an average measurement, it can vary from brand to brand and even model to model within the same brand.

Width is dependent on “bar angle”, not so much on “gullet width”, or worse the “concho to concho” measurement I often see used to describe saddle width.

So what do I mean by bar angle?

In these example photos I’ve tried to explain it. You can see in the diagram photo the distance between the conchos is the same, but due to how the bars have been designed, they will fit completely differently. So concho to concho measurement is completely useless.

Next up, an example of why, just because your horse is currently in a medium tree in one brand, it doesn’t mean that with the same brand but a different model, the same width tree will be correct. As you can see with the comparison of my Tucker saddles below, both have medium trees but again they both have very different bar angles and fit.

Now SQHB/QHB/FQHB measurement! In the photo, the top two saddles are both SQHB, but again there is a noticeable difference in how the angle of the bars are set. Again this is the same brand! (Circle Y).

This is why I ask for a wither trace of your horse. I know it’s a pain & can be a bit confusing if you’ve never done it before, but it’s important so I know what bar angle may suit your horse. I can get a rough idea from photos of what may suit, but to narrow it down further a wither trace is vital.

 

No matter where you are looking to buy a saddle from, I highly recommend doing a wither trace of your horse & sending it to the seller to get a indication of whether the saddle is worth trying. It’s still not a guarantee of fit, but gives a strong indication of what may suit. This is only one factor of saddle fit.

The other main factors are:

  • Skirt length (Make sure it doesn’t go past the quarters of your horse)
  • Rock (If your horse has a curve to their back they will require a saddle tree that has rock in it so it follows their back shape. The amount of rock needed depends on how curved their back is. See link below explaining about rock)

To know if a saddle will fit your horse width wise I strongly recommend you do a wither trace, as per the instructions below. You can scan it and email it to me or post it. I can then try it in the saddle you’re interested in to see if it may suit. If you’re unsure if the tree will suit their back shape, please email me photos of your horse without tack on. See this blog post with examples www.usedwesterntack.co.uk/fitting-photos I can then advise if I feel it’s worth you trying or what I have that may suit. My email is cksaddles@gmail.com

Instructions on how to do a wither trace.

1. Get a A4 piece of paper and pen
2. Use a curve stick if you have one (can be purchased on eBay https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/181603624740 ), or electrical cable also works (B&Q sell it etc)
3. Find horses shoulder blade (scapula), then lay 3-Fingers back from that point and measure over the wither from there.
4. Draw the wither outline onto the piece of paper

 

Here are some useful links on saddle fit if you want more in-depth explanations

https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/understanding-tree-measurements/

https://www.horsechannel.com/horse-keeping/5-tips-for-western-saddle-fit.aspx

https://outwestsaddlery.com/fitting-a-saddle/fitting-how-to-guide/

 

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Western saddle trees

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