How often should a saddle fit be checked?
We recommend that saddle fit be checked at least twice per year.Flocking in the saddle will settle down over time and as we are all slightly uneven it generally settles more on one side than the other and needs to be evened up.Horses can also change shape over the course of a year,they can get fatter or fitter and this can lead to the saddle not fitting as well as it should. With young horses or horses that have been laid off and are coming in to work it may be necessary to check the fit more frequently until the horse's shape settles down a bit and the change is not as drastic or as fast.
Can the saddle be adjusted on site?
In many cases yes it can be.If the fit is basically good and the flocking is in good shape then it may just need a 'tweak' to make it right.This will be done on site and then the saddle is put back on the horse to ensure the final fit is as good as we can get.If the saddle has the Flair air system in it then the adjustment is very easy and can be done there and then and again the saddle is put back on the horse to check it is right.
If the flocking is old and hard and lumpy then it may need to be stripped out completely and new wool flock put in.This is done back in the workshop as the panel has to be taken off and it takes some time to do. The saddle is then taken back out to the horse, if possible, tried on the horse and any final adjustments are made on site.
Can one saddle be used on several horses?
This is not a good idea unless you have an adjustable saddle and you are prepared to keep adjusting it from horse to horse (most riders I know are not prepared to spend the time and effort rquired to do that).All horses are individuals and should be treated as such when fitting and using saddles.You may get away with using the same saddle on horses that are of similar build for a while but it is far from ideal as all horses will 'wear' a saddle differently ( much like the way we wear shoes differently).
What is a Close Contact saddle?
Despite common belief this is not necessarily a jumping saddle.Close Contact describes the slim panel on a saddle and can be dressage,jumping,GP etc. Some types of horse do not do so well with a close contact panel as they need a deeper panel with more adjustment in it that that offered by a close contact panel. TB type horses often do better with deeper panels to help to clear the high wither or balance the saddle lengthwise if there is a big drop from the wither to the head of the last rib. Barrel shaped, flat withered horses often do well in a close contact panel as it can help minimise the rolling effect they sometimes have on their saddles.
Can putting pads under a poorly fitting saddle help make it fit better?
In some cases it may help a little and temporarily.It is far better to have the saddle properly fitted for the horse than to mess around with pads underneath.If the tree doesn't fit then no amount of padding or different types of pads will make it fit.It is a bit like wearing ill fitting shoes and shoving socks in to try to help.If it is too tight more pads will make it tighter and if it is too loose there tends to be excessive movement which causes friction and rubbing. In either case there will be pressure points. Nothing makes up for not having a properly fitted saddle.