A Balanced Saddle

Why a Balanced Saddle Matters

From an old German book on riding. Balance as a basic concept of saddle fit. The correct balance is on the right.

“Love this saddle, fits every horse!”

Have you ever heard someone say that? I have, and it makes me cringe. While certain horse types share similar features (e.g. the Thoroughbred “shark fin” withers), it is important to look at every horse as a distinct individual.

There are several factors to consider when evaluating saddle fit, one of them is BALANCE.

Why Balance Matters

A balanced saddle distributes your weight evenly across the horse’s back and thus prevents discomfort.

In our example image above, the rider sits too far back on the saddle, putting increased pressure on the rear part of the horse’s back. This can lead to:

  • Back soreness
  • Hollowing and unable to step under
  • Rushing under saddle
  • No bascule over jumps
  • After some time in a compensatory posture, also to hock and stifle problems
  • Behavior issues like bucking, crow hopping

This horse’s saddle is balanced. it does not always have to be a custom saddle. With careful evaluation, you can find a new or used saddle that fits your horse.

A balanced saddle will put the rider in the right position,…

…namely aligned with the horse’s center of gravity, able to be “in the movement”, not behind or in front.

In our example on top of the page – on the left side of the drawing – our rider will be:

  • Behind horse’s movement
  • Having a hard time keeping secure balance
  • Having to use the wrong muscles to keep up with the horse’s movement
  • Not able to maintain a balanced, independent seat.

How to recognize a balanced (English) saddle

Place a round piece of chalk or a round piece of wood on the saddle. It will roll toward the lowest point. This lowest point should be in the middle or the saddle. If you do not have such an item, imagine you did. You will quickly determine the right spot.

balanced saddle

This saddle is balanced [Passier Eventing on Anglo-Arab taken at a Passier Saddle Fitting session]

Ideally, this lowest point should also be aligned with the horse’s center of gravity. But, that is another topic (see ‘saddle position’ in Saddle Fit).

Basic saddle fit concepts must be part of every rider’s “Basic Rider Training”.

Exploring saddle fit with your horse can be fun, interesting and quite the eye-opener… I am happy to help you with your saddle fit questions.

As a horse wellness specialist and certified Passier® saddle fitter, saddle fit is an important topic for me. An uncomfortable horse cannot perform well. To book your custom Passier saddle fitting or an evaluation of your current saddles or saddles you may consider for purchase, please contact me.

I also recommend to add a book about saddle fit to your library. Here some I really like:

The Horse’s Pain-Free Back and Saddle-Fit Book

The Western Horse’s Pain-Free Back and Saddle-Fit Book: Soundness and Comfort with Back Analysis and Correct Use of Saddles and Pads

Also read about Saddle Fit here.

As always, enjoy your horse!

Stefanie Reinhold

NOTE: I may make a small commission on the products listed in this article through the amazon links.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.