Stephen A. Lovatt, Master Saddler
SMS Qualified Saddle Fitter
Member of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers
If the saddle is too narrow, the pommel will be too high at the front throwing the rider’s weight to the rear and putting weight and pressure through the loin area of the horse. The rider will also be unbalanced tipping forward in consequence. The panels (the soft pads under the saddle) will probably also ‘bridge.’ By bridging we mean that there is not full contact by the panels all along the length of the saddle onto the horse’s back. This in turn distributes the rider’s weight only at the front and back of the saddle creating harmful pressure points in both of these areas. The saddle that is too narrow is the most common problem that we come across.
The saddle that is too wide is not such a common occurrence but nevertheless is to be avoided. If the pommel sits down lower than two fingers height from the withers, the saddle will more than likely be tipped forward out of balance. A saddle that is too low at the pommel will possibly create damage to the horse’s withers. You will more than likely also find that there will be a gap between the panels and the horses back under the area of the seat of the saddle, so the rider’s weight yet again is not distributed through the full length of the panels onto the horse’s back.