The Importance of Saddle Fit: Ensuring Your Horse’s Comfort and Performance

Are you inadvertently causing discomfort to your horse through your saddle? The impact of saddle fit on equine health, longevity, and performance cannot be overstated. Ensuring your saddle fits correctly is not just about your comfort; it directly affects your horse’s well-being and ability to excel in the game of polo. 

Properly fitting tack is a cornerstone of equine welfare that should never be overlooked. Regular checks from a knowledgeable saddle fitter are essential to ensure both you and your horse benefit from the best possible fit. This proactive approach not only enhances your performance on the field but also contributes to your horse’s long-term happiness and soundness. 

Let’s delve into the factors that can affect saddle fit:

  • Seasonal Changes: Your horse’s shape can fluctuate with the seasons, affecting the balance of your saddle. 
  • Changes in Weight and Condition: Variations in weight and condition can alter your horse’s physique, potentially impacting saddle fit. 
  • Fitness Level: As your horse’s fitness levels change, so too can its musculature, influencing saddle fit. 

  • An unbalanced saddle can lead to a myriad of performance issues, including: 

  • Leaning on the bit 
  • Falling onto the forehand 
  • Difficulty engaging

  • If left unaddressed, these issues can cause long-term musculoskeletal changes, increasing the risk of injury and discomfort for your horse. 

    The neck and spine are particularly sensitive areas that can be affected by an ill-fitting saddle. The cervical vertebrae (neck) are incredibly flexible, allowing your horse to adjust its head and neck positioning. Any discomfort in this region can significantly impact performance and may manifest as unusual head and neck positioning, forelimb lameness, or altered movement patterns. 

    Similarly, the back, consisting of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, plays a crucial role in supporting your weight while playing polo. Signs of back pain, such as soreness, difficulty when being shod, difficulty lying down/ not lying down to sleep or shortened strides, should not be ignored, as they could indicate saddle-related issues.  

    The sacroiliac region, comprising the sacroiliac joint and the lumbosacral junction, is vital for your horse’s stability and flexibility during rapid movements on the field. Without freedom of pain-free movement through these areas, your horse’s ability to perform at a high level may be compromised.

    In part 2 of this series, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to ensuring your saddle fits your horse comfortably, taking into account the intricate anatomy of your horse. Stay tuned for practical tips to safeguard your horse’s comfort and performance on the polo field. 

    Are you and your horse experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above? It’s time to reassess your saddle fit and prioritise your horse’s well-being. Share this article with your fellow equestrians to spread awareness about the importance of saddle fit in ensuring happy, healthy, and high performing horses.