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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2010
    Posts
    121

    Default Question about saddle placement

    I realize this is a really basic question, but I need to ask. I am having trouble with correct saddle placement. I know that the girth, when tightened, should be just behind my horse's elbow. However, for that to happen, I need to have the saddle fairly forward, and I'm concerned it's too far forward. When I place the saddle so that the girth is right behind the elbow, I worry that the saddle is too far onto the shoulder and is hindering movement/pinching. However, if I slide the saddle back off the shoulder a bit, then the girth is further back than where I think it should be. I don't want my horse to pitch a fit because the girth is too far back onto her sternum.

    I have been told to simply make sure the saddle isn't touching the horse's point of shoulder, but I am not 100% clear on where the point of the shoulder is. Is it high up near the withers, or down further than that, or..? I don't want to hurt my horse, or impede her movement, or tick her off by having a too-far back girth. Could my horse's conformation be to blame? She's short with a round barrel.

    I ride in an AP saddle right now, but have had the same issue with dressage saddles.

    Help, please!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr. 1, 2003
    Location
    Cocoa, Fla
    Posts
    4,073

    Default

    My girth (for my Dutch mare) is NOT directly behind the elbow when the saddle is placed correctly, rather about 3-4 inches behind the elbow. My saddler even had to move the forward billet more forward to keep the saddle in proper placement for this mare. This mare is also small (15.1 1/2 hands) and has a VERY round barrel. My Swedish mare has girth directly behind elbow but is slab sided with deep heart girth and swells when the girth is placed too far back.

    So to place it correctly - before you put the saddle on go up by the withers and feel the bone. Standing on horses left with your right hand - put hand up by withers, come down about an inch (or more) and "feel" the rounded (backwards "C") shoulder bone.

    Once you can do that effectively without the saddle, put the saddle on and find the bone again. Saddle should be directly behind that bone - so you should be able to get your fingers around that bone without going under saddle but barely. Too much room and saddle is too far back (also a no no).

    Hope this helps. I've always had problems with my Swedish mare but once I started riding my Dutch mare (more prominent withers) I found it easier to find correct saddle placement and that has helped with the Swedish mare.

    Does that help?
    Sandy in Fla.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 13, 2005
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    6,801

    Default

    And this is why they invented anatomic girths. Some horses have a naturally very forward girth groove but also have a laid-back shoulder, which means for the saddle to avoid interference with the shoulder, the billets have to be way behind the girth groove. Anatomic girths let the billets be where they are, the girth be more forward, and the twain shall meet thanks to the curve in the anatomic girth.

    They don't have to be expensive, either. Wintec and Ovation both make anatomic-like girths in U-shapes that are well under $50:
    http://www.vtosaddlery.com/product/DRESSGIRTH/OGDG.htm
    ________________________
    Resident COTH saddle nerd. (CYA: Not a pro, just a long-time enthusiast!)
    http://twitter.com/jenlmichaels



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 1999
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    35,575

    Default

    A general rule of thumb is for the girth to be a full hands' width behind the elbow. Variations in billet placement and the horse's conformation can change that a little.

    For finding the scapula, have someone pull the horse's leg forward, and back, while you watch. Unless the horse is fat, you'll pretty easily see the top of the scapula moving back and forth.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2010
    Posts
    121

    Default

    A hand's width behind the elbow, eh? No wonder I was having trouble! Thank you, everyone, for all of your advice. This was a huge help. I am definitely going to get an anatomic girth, too (just have to find one in a non-dressage style, as my dressage saddle has short billets.)



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 1999
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    35,575

    Default

    Before you run out to get an AG, make sure you need it. If you don't, it can cause issues, just as if needing one and not using one can
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug. 28, 2007
    Location
    Triangle Area, NC
    Posts
    6,707

    Default

    IGNORE the girth... we'll sort out girth placement once you get your saddle in the right spot.

    Step 1
    get your horse standing relaxed and square
    place the saddle too far forward on the horses back... like practically on his neck. take two fingers under the cantle on that little lip of leather, and slide the saddle back until it becomes difficult to move. This is where the saddle wants to be. If it looks off balance, repeat the steps a few more times just to make sure it wasn't user error. If it still looks wonky, contact your saddle fitter and schedule a flocking adjustment.

    A few helpful land marks are your horses scapula (shoulder bone) and the end of his mane.
    Place the saddle where it is balanced. you should be able to run two fingers in front of the saddle and not be jammed up next to the scapula. you may find it useful to FIND the scapula and familiarize yourself with it before doing the two finger test.
    Next look and see where the mane stops, immediately following that should be the beginning of the pommel, with an exception of an inch for brand differences.
    once you've got all this sorted out, you can then determine if you need to shop for an anatomic girth or a more basic

    most people set their saddles too far forward.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 1999
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    35,575

    Default

    Excellent post psj
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 26, 2002
    Location
    Up Nort whar tis COLD
    Posts
    6,778

    Default

    Good video on this website to explain how to tell how far back your saddle needs to sit: http://www.saddlefit4life.com/

    yes, that's Schleese's Saddle Fit For Life site.

    I have a horse that requires an anatomical girth. I have a kieffer, but I did find the Prestige at a reasonable price online for about $140-150 if you search. And not all anatomical girths do what you need. You need a "wave" girth like the Prestige or the County Logic.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 30, 2009
    Location
    The Great Plains of Canada
    Posts
    3,062

    Default This, exactly

    Quote Originally Posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
    IGNORE the girth... we'll sort out girth placement once you get your saddle in the right spot.

    Step 1
    get your horse standing relaxed and square
    place the saddle too far forward on the horses back... like practically on his neck. take two fingers under the cantle on that little lip of leather, and slide the saddle back until it becomes difficult to move. This is where the saddle wants to be. If it looks off balance, repeat the steps a few more times just to make sure it wasn't user error. If it still looks wonky, contact your saddle fitter and schedule a flocking adjustment.

    A few helpful land marks are your horses scapula (shoulder bone) and the end of his mane.
    Place the saddle where it is balanced. you should be able to run two fingers in front of the saddle and not be jammed up next to the scapula. you may find it useful to FIND the scapula and familiarize yourself with it before doing the two finger test.
    Next look and see where the mane stops, immediately following that should be the beginning of the pommel, with an exception of an inch for brand differences.
    once you've got all this sorted out, you can then determine if you need to shop for an anatomic girth or a more basic

    most people set their saddles too far forward.
    Exactly - slide it back until it 'slips' into balance, then slide it back off the scapula if necessary still. Most people do place their saddles too forward, which hinders movement.
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2010
    Posts
    121

    Default

    I printed this out and am taking it to the barn with me. Thank you for completely clarifying this issue for me, everyone!



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