By Carmi Weininger, President of The ReactorPanel Saddle Company
With the change of seasons come longer days and longer rides. With your time in the saddle increasing, now is a good time to get a baseline on your horse’s back to keep track of how it changes from season to season and, as a consequence of these changes, how your saddle fits.
The first step in assessing the fit of your saddle is understanding the shape of your horse’s back, and knowing if that shape has changed. You can easily chart your horse’s shape by making a series of templates.
Here are the materials you will need to create templates of your horse’s back:
- Flexible curve, available from office supply stores
- Marking pen
- Large sheet of paper–at least 11” x 17”
- Masking tape
Next, place four pieces of tape starting on your horse’s wither at the following points:
- Directly above the bulgiest
- 1 part of the “shoulder blade,”
- or above the scapular ridge
- Approximately two fingers 2. behind the back of the shoulder (this is where the front edge
- of your saddle will sit)
- 4” back of measurement #23.
- 4” back of measurement #34.
You may choose to make additional measurements in 4” increments behind measurement #4 in order to chart the entire saddling surface.
Next, take your measurements.
To do this accurately, you will need to carefully press the curve into the horse’s back at each tape marker. Even more carefully, lift the curve without distorting the shape. Place it on your paper, and trace the shape to create an image of your horse’s back.
Repeat this process several times to be sure that you have gotten the precise shape of your horse. As you go, make sure you label each tracing with the area of the horse, the horse’s name, and the date. This will only be time consuming the first time, as you learn to take accurate shapes with your curve.
Once you have a good set of measurements, trace them onto a durable surface, such as cardboard, with indelible marker. Remeasure your horse at least two times a year (four is better), putting your new measurements onto tracing paper. Overlay the new measurements onto your originals; it will be immediately apparent if your horse has changed shape in any significant way.
These measurements will give you information about changes in your horse’s body. Any significant
increase or decrease in width under the saddle must be noted, and the saddle fit must be assessed.
To learn more about the RP saddle system or to sign up for their e-newsletter, visit www.reactorpanel.com.
Copyright 2009 The ReactorPanel Saddle Company, Oakland CA. All rights reserved.