Saddles, Fitting & Your Horse Demos

Here is the original article, courtesy of archive.org, in case anyone is still looking for it:

Smith-Worthington has made saddles since George Washington was President. We don’t have all of the answers, but we do know quite a lot about saddles.

Thoughts & Suggestions on Buying a Saddle

A saddle is a big investment, worthy of serious investigation. A good saddle will last 25 to 35 years with proper care. Many last longer. Buy the best saddle you can. This is not necessarily the most expensive saddle. Unfortunately, there are many expensive saddles on the market today which are not well made and will not last.

  • Think about how you ride and how you want to ride 3, 5, 10 years from now.
  • Try your friends’ saddles.
  • Ride demo saddles.
  • Learn how the saddle was made.
  • Be sure that the tree and panels can be adjusted to fit your horse as he muscles and matures (or can be made to fit a new horse.)
  • Buy from a tack shop with a reputation for service.

What’s Right for Me?

None of us ride alike and none are built alike. We have different bone structures, pelvic widths, muscle tone, athletic and equestrian abilities. Some of us really open our hips and get down into the saddle. Some ride in a chair seat; some ride well balanced.

All of these factors help to determine in which saddle you will be comfortable. Your friends and instructor can tell you which saddle they like. They can tell you how you look in a saddle. But, only you know how the saddle feels.

Twist Width vs. Tree Width

Twist width is the width of the tree at its narrowest. They’re listed for most saddles only as a guide to help you with preliminary saddle selection. The right twist for you is actually determined by your pelvic width and equestrian ability, as noted above. Twist width is just one of the many factors that determine what makes a saddle feel good to you. 

Tree width, on the other hand, is the width and angle of the points of the tree protruding down from the pommel. These should parallel your horse’s back. Select twist width for your comfort. Select tree width to fit your horse.

Demo Saddles

Since only you know how a saddle feels, we recommend requesting a demo saddle from your dealer.

These are available for you to get a feel for the saddle. Do not be concerned with exactly fitting your horse at this point. Demo saddles are not intended to be an exact fit for your horse. The chance of having a demo which exactly fits both you and your horse is slim.

When your dealer orders a demo for you, specify the breed or send a diagram of your horse’s back. We will send either a saddle to fit or one slightly wider than your horse so that with a little creative padding you can get a feel for the saddle.

Fitting Guide

Ask for our simplified, step-by-step, 4-page fitting guide which shows how to fit you and how to fit and measure your horse. This guide is easy to follow. Be sure to take all measurements and follow all instructions as outlined in the guide.

The better the information you give us, the better we can fit your horse. Diagrams, photos, observations, your current saddle with a sweaty saddle pad and comments on how it fits, all help. This is all outlined in our fitting guide.