Questions and answers

What should I expect for my re-stuffing and consultation dollars?

An on-site re-stuffing and consultation is actually a 4-part process:

  1. Evaluation A - Preliminary evaluation comprises a visual and manual examination of your horse and the saddle, plus discussion with you about your horse's performance, any problems you are aware of, and any concerns or questions you may have. Occasionally, it is helpful for the horse to be ridden to determine what corrections are necessary.
  2. Dismantling and Inspection - The saddle is then taken apart and a thorough inspection of it's components for structural integrity and safety is done.
  3. Re-stuffing - Old wool may be removed, fluffed-up, or re-distributed, and new wool may be added. The saddler will ensure the panels are smooth and even unless a specific correction is indicated. The saddle is then re-assembled and sewn back together.
  4. Evaluation B - The saddle is put back on the horse and the re-stuffing is checked to ensure the desired outcome has been achieved. Again, occasionally it will be necessary to ride the horse.

Guarantee - In general, the re-stuffing will be guaranteed for a period of thirty days. If the rider feels there is a problem, they must advise the saddler of their concerns immediately so remedial steps can be taken. You must be aware that a horse can change a significant amount in a month, depending on his work, condition, age, and so forth; so while it is not usual, it is conceivable that a saddle would need to be re-worked after that.

I just bought a new horse that is a lot wider than my old one - can I get my saddle adjusted to fit him?

There are two ways in which a saddle can be adjusted to fit a different horse or a horse's changing shape - both are only worth considering if the basic shape of the saddle tree is correct for the horse, and the saddle is suitable for the rider.

The first changes can be made by removing, adding, or adjusting the wool flocking in the panels. The other, more fundamental change is made by narrowing or widening the actual tree of the saddle.

Some saddles, such as Passier, have a tree that can be adjusted by a skilled saddler a limited number of times up to about 3 cm. This is a result of the tree construction and the type of steel used to reinforce the head of the saddle. This steel can break, but it is extremely rare; in this case a new head plate would need to be installed.

Ridgemount, Amerigo, Vega, Paramount, and some other classic British-made saddles can be adjusted up to a maximum of 1.5 cm a few times, and sometimes the head plate will need to be reinforced. Often rivets will need to be replaced when doing this. It should be noted that though the success rate of these tree adjustments is high, having this work done may void the manufacturer's warranty.

Saddles with a full plastic tree can be adjusted and remain under warranty if using a machine specifically designed to do this by an authorized agent. Your dealer should be able to direct you to where this can be done. Christian can also perform the work, and though his success rate is high, his method is not accepted by the manufacturers.

Argentinian and Indian saddles do not adjust well, are more likely to break, and are not typically worth the cost and effort.

The success of tree adjustments vary widely and are not necessarily covered by manufacturer's or retailer's warranties. Adjustments will only be done in conjunction with a consult. Iff done in at the same time as a re-stuff, a tree adjustment may cost as little as $ 125.00. If done on its own, adjustments start at $ 200.00; an estimate will be given after the saddle is examined.

I have been told to buy a saddle with an adjustable tree so that I can change the fit of my saddle as my horse changes. Is this really the answer to my long term saddle fit issues?

Tree width is one of several critical components of a well fitting saddle. Rarely - but occasionally - changing the width of your tree is all that is required to maintain a comfortable horse. As with all saddle fitting issues we recommend you consult an experienced saddle fitter when you are selecting a saddle in order to give yourself the best chance of ensuring a good fit over the long term.

I am looking for a new saddle and I have had a saddle company ask me for a wither tracing. What is it for and how do I do it?

A wither tracing is essentially a diagram of your horse's back which is helpful when selecting a saddle - particularly when it is difficult to go and try the saddle(s) on the horse (for example, when shopping 'long-distance'). Tracings are usually taken using a 'flexible curve', which is a malleable wire covered with PVC available at office supply stores, although there are tools made specifically for the job. The wire is molded over the horse's back at different points, then outlines of the different shapes are drawn on paper. The resulting information will help indicate the width and shape of tree required and will help your saddler select the saddle models most likely to fit your horse well.

How important is the fit of a saddle to the rider?

At least 80% of riders at some point are willing to sacrifice their own comfort for the sake of the horse's. However noble you might think this gesture is…DON’T DO IT! Your own discomfort will eventually lead to your horse's lack of comfort. It is imperative you sit comfortably and balanced in your saddle, this will go a long way to preserving your horses freedom of movement.

My saddle shifts to right/left during a ride - what causes this?

This problem occurs for numerous reasons. Listed below are some seemingly obvious, yet often difficult to correct reasons;

  1. Poorly fitted or balanced saddle.
  2. Crooked and/or uncomfortable horse.
  3. Crooked and/or uncomfortable rider.

To effectively correct this problem you should be prepared to consult a variety of equine specialists - for example a physiotherapist or acupuncturist, as well as your veterinarian and your coach - and be prepared to get second opinions. Often a saddle sitting crooked is a symptom of a greater problem that may take quite a bit of time and patience to resolve - the easy answer is not necessarily the correct one.

Will the use of a Gel Pad or Half-Pad increase my horse comfort?

One of the most common misconceptions is that “padding up” will automatically increase the comfort of your horse. To a large extent the exact opposite is true. Very thick padding often creates instability in the saddle, leading to friction from the saddle and a loss of balance for the rider. Using extra padding to correct a saddle that pinches is like adding extra socks in a pair of shoes that are too tight - very short-lived relief, then more pressure than ever. Remember that a pad used incorrectly or for the wrong reason can do as much damage as an ill fitting saddle.