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Ensuring that you select the right saddle for your horse is vital. It not only affects the position in which the rider will sit, and therefore can be beneficial in preventing back ache or muscle pain, but it also affects the horse. No responsible horse owner would want their steed to be in discomfort and pain and so choosing the best saddle is very important.
There are companies available who will measure your horse and recommend the saddles that they think are most appropriate, but as with most things this service costs money. I recommend this service as it ensures that you will not be causing any distress to your horse when you ride it.
The Laser 747, pictured above, has gel “flocking” so it never needs re-flocking and it is adjustable so every time a horse changes shape it doesn’t need to be re-stuffed. The gullet is nice and wide, and the panels are wide and flat, thereby spreading the rider’s weight over a broad area. Laser saddles are fully adjustable with the turn of a key, ideal to use on multiple horses or for growing horses or those that change shape with the seasons.
Once the correct saddle has been purchased, it is important to remember that positioning the saddle on the horse’s back is also vital in ensuring your horse is comfortable when ridden. There are three main muscles in the horse’s back which can be affected by the use of a badly positioned saddle. It is important to familiarize yourself with these and their locations before attempting to position the saddle on your horse. This will give you an idea of where the saddle needs to sit in order to be most comfortable for the horse. An ill fitting saddle with other pressure points and problems directly affects the thoracic trapezius, rhomboid, and serratus muscles.
In addition to the muscles which can be affected by the saddle, remember that how the saddle is positioned on the horse’s back can have an effect on the spine and its vertebrae. Note each time that you put your saddle on your horse where it was positioned it for the most comfort.
Remembering this should remind you of how important this lesson is and that you cannot afford to take risks with your horse if you want your ‘babe’ to lead a long and painless life.
Place the saddle on the horse’s back, forward of the wither. Once you have done this, slide it back along the back of the horse until it cannot comfortably go any further. This will vary dependent on the shape of the individual horse but the lowest point of the saddle should correspond to the lowest point of the horse’s back.
If the saddle is in the correct position, the saddle tree will not be pressing on the scapula (the shoulder of the horse) but will rest in the natural grooves behind them.
The most common mistake is to position the saddle too far forward; this causes the saddle to press on the muscles in the scapula, causing pain, impeding movement, and creating the possibility of saddle sores.
Once you have learned how to position the saddle, you will find it comes naturally after a time. It is worth taking the time to do it properly if you wish to remain the owner of a healthy, happy horse.
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