There are four components of fit to consider when choosing the perfect saddle: seat size, twist or “waist”, leg support and flap length. The following saddle fit guide explains how to measure each aspect of your saddle fit, as well as how to measure out your perfect saddle flap size!
- Seat size. Your correct seat size is determined by the length of the working center, the placement of the working center, your bone structure and your body type. To fit your seat size, first properly balance the saddle so that the cantle is 1/2” to 3/4” higher than the pommel. Then sit in the saddle with your feet out of the stirrups. Move around a little so you slide into the working center. For correct fit, there should be one hand breadth from the edge of the cantle to the point where the rider’s butt meets the saddle. NOTE: Many riders try to put their hands on the pommel to adjust their position so their knees fit the flaps and knee rolls. Do not do this. The saddle must fit the rider, rather than the rider needing to maneuver their position to fit the saddle.
- Twist / waist. The waist or twist is the measurement at the narrowest part of the saddle tree. Waist is determined by your pelvic width. This should not be confused with the shape of the leather on the seat or with the width of the tree for your horse. You cannot see the waist once a saddle is made, and it’s almost impossible to measure. Only you can determine the right twist width for you by sitting or riding on a saddle. Generally, riders with a narrower hip/pelvic structure find a saddle with a narrower twist more comfortable. Riders with a wider hip/pelvic structure find a wider twist more comfortable. A good starting point is to jump up and down a few times and then look at your feet. If they more than 8″ apart you will likely prefer a medium or wide twist. If they are closer than 8”, a narrow twist may be better for you. This formula is a generality that can be skewed if you have any knee or ankle abnormalities, or if your things are overly heavy.
- Leg support of flaps. To adjust leg support, put your feet into the stirrups at your shortest jumping length. Do not push on the pommel to adjust your position. If there is a thigh block, your leg should fit loosely under it so that your thigh can slightly move into it when needed. If there is a knee roll, your knee should fit securely into the knee roll cup. As a new saddle breaks in, the knee roll will roll back, so be sure to leave room for this to happen.
- Saddle flap length. To adjust flap length, lengthen the stirrups to the longest length used. Flaps should be long enough so that you don’t catch the bottom of the flap with your boot top, and short enough to allow plenty of lower leg contact. The sweet spot is usually about 3” below the crease behind your knee.
NOTE: Riders whose legs are shorter or longer than average may require short, extra forward, or custom flaps. In these instances, you may want to measure yourself to figure out what size saddle flaps you need so you can make sure you get the right length.
How To Measure Saddle Flap Length
- Take two photos of yourself, from the side, while mounted on your demo saddle. Capture both short and long stirrup lengths to have as a reference.
- While sitting in the shortest stirrup length, mark the most forward point of your knee with a small piece of tape or chalk on the saddle. Using the diagram below, measure lines A, B and C with a yardstick once you dismount.
- Line A = seat size.
- Line B = distance from saddle nail to piece of tape.
- Line C = distance from piece of tape to center of cantle.
- Sitting in your longest stirrup length, measure the desired length of the flap from the top of the stirrup bar to 2” below your boot top or crease of the knee.