Six Signs Your Saddle Doesn’t Fit Properly

We love riding our horse’s, and we know that they love it too, but sometimes your horse may begin acting up while riding. This can be for a number of reasons, but one thing to consider is whether his saddle is fitting properly.

While it can be tricky to learn to fit a saddle, it is important that your horse is not wearing a poorly fitted saddle in order to avoid discomfort or, in the long term, a damaged back.

While it will take time and experience to truly learn the skill of saddle fitting, looking out for the following six things should help you spot whether your horse is wearing an ill-fitting saddle.

A sensitive back

One thing to check before you even tack up, is whether your horse has any sensitivity to his back. Starting just behind his shoulder, firmly run your hand over where the saddle usually sits, and toward his hind. Spend a few minutes watching closely to see whether he reacts to the pressure. If he does, his saddle may be making his back sore.

Reacting to being saddled

If while you are saddling your horse he is acting upset by arching his back, trying to bite, pawing, or generally getting antsy, it may be a sign that his saddle is causing discomfort, as opposed to a training issue. Spend some time taking a closer look at the fit of the saddle, and also check that he doesn’t have any sores or ulcers which may be causing discomfort.

Movement of the saddle

Saddle your horse up, and then spend a few minutes lunging him. Watch for the saddle shifting from side to side, or up and down, or any other significant movement as he trots and canters. This may indicate that the saddle is not fitting properly.

White hairs growing under the saddle

If your horse has been wearing an ill-fitting saddle so much that it has damaged his back, you may even notice white hairs growing. This will happen where the saddle pinches his back, and you should seek help immediately from a saddle fitter.


A saddle which does not fit correctly may cause discomfort by putting pressure on your horse’s back, causing him to buck during a ride. While bucking can also be a training issue, you should rule out a badly fitted saddle.

Reluctance to move out

If your horse is in pain he may be reluctant to stride freely, as he cannot fully use his back. If this is something your horse is doing, you should check the fit of the saddle, and check the sensitivity of his back.

Hopefully this has given you some pointers and will help you keep an eye out for warning signs that your horse isn’t comfortable in his saddle. It’s also important to remember that your horse’s shape may change a little with the seasons, causing a once fitting saddle to become uncomfortable, so it is worth checking the fit several times a year.

If you are concerned that your horse is experiencing pain or discomfort but are not sure how to correct the issue, it is well worth seeking the advice of an experienced saddle fitter.

For more tips when it comes to looking after horses, be sure to keep checking our blog here at Ride-Away.

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