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Signs of Poor Saddle Fit

Although horses do not speak English, they are certainly able to communicate with us, especially regarding poor saddle fit. If a horse is experiencing pain caused by a poor fitting or defective saddle, there can be physical signs that may occur, such as:

  • Sores under the saddle area
  • White hairs under the saddle area (which can also indicate past damage done by a saddle)
  • Friction rubs in the hair
  • Scars or hard spots
  • Dry patches on the back or saddle pad while the rest is dampened by sweat
  • Dropping of the back when it is palpated
  • Muscle atrophy on either side of the withers

Even if there are no physical signs, if your horse is behaving differently, it is wise to evaluate saddle fit as part of any exam. Behavioral signs of poor saddle fit can include:

  • Hypersensitivity while being brushed
  • Objecting to being saddled or cinched
  • Fidgeting while mounting
  • Uncooperative while being ridden
  • Pinning ears, swishing tail and/or tossing head under saddle
  • Reluctance to go forward and use the hind end

So, before you write off your horse as stubborn, uncooperative or ill tempered, first take a good look at his equipment.

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