I will first assess your saddle by sitting it on your horse’s back, and then ask to see it ridden in with your normal pads or numnah. After making any necessary alterations on site I may ask you to ride again. If your saddle needs more extensive work, I may need to take it back to the workshop or even send it to the manufacturer.
I will first sit various saddles on the horse’s back. Once we have identified some likely saddles it is time to tack up and start riding in them! Nowadays I always use a thin numnah or saddle cloth under the saddles, as so many horses react badly if the saddle is next to their skin.
I will assess the fit of each saddle being trialled; I will also rely on the rider’s feedback, so we can eliminate any unsuitable saddles quite quickly. With any luck we can narrow the choice of saddle down to two or three which can then be tried again more thoroughly.
I do not mind how many times you ride in each saddle, or for how long. Some horses make it very clear what feels best to them by their way of going; others are more stoical! The important thing is that we get the most comfortable fit for horse and rider, and the saddle is suitable for the rider’s planned activities.
After the saddle has been chosen, I may need to make some final alterations (flocking etc), and you may need to ride in the saddle again to check all is well. I may recommend using a pad – particularly if the horse prefers it, or is expected to fill out. Some horses, because of their conformation or gait, will cause all saddles, however well they are fitted, to slip forwards, backwards, or side to side and there are a wealth of anti-slip options on the market that can make all the difference.
I will need to take templates (back tracings) of your horse so that we have a record of his back shape for future reference. Together we will fill out a fitting sheet with details of your horse and its history, and the details of the saddle you are purchasing. You will keep a copy of this.
I will take a full payment for the saddle and any other items you purchase, along with the visit and fitting fees. If I am ordering a saddle for you I will take a deposit (normally 50% of the full saddle price) with the understanding that the balance will be payable when I deliver the saddle. I may ask to see the saddle ridden in when I deliver it.
If you have purchased a new saddle from me, I will suggest that I check it after two or three months of use, as the flocking may have settled and the saddle may need rebalancing. Thereafter, all saddles should be checked every 6 to 12 months as horses frequently change shape as they mature, or become fitter, or lose condition etc. Please be aware of my charges for all saddle checks.
I will do my utmost to fit the best saddle for you within the limits of your budget. If you have any problems with your new saddle, or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.