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Is My Horse's Saddle Correctly Fitted? 15 Behavioural Indicators To Look Out For...

Horses are usually kind-natured and cooperative creatures, this is, however, contingent on two fundamental needs being satisfied: they must understand what it is you're asking of them, and they must be pain-free and comfortable in order to do what you want.

Negative horse behaviour is typically caused by an ill-fitting saddle, and it's your responsibility as a horse owner or rider to detect the tell-tale signs that your saddle may be the source of these problems. Once you've learned how to spot them, you'll be in a stronger position to address the problem right away.

To help you determine whether it's time to call out a professional saddle fitter, we've compiled a list of the most typical behavioural indications that your horse is suffering from saddle pain.

The 15 behavioural signs that your horse is experiencing discomfort are...

  1. Avoiding situations or certain environments - Do they attempt to walk away when being tacked up? 
  2. When someone approaches them with a saddle, do they put their ears back, shake their head or reveal their teeth?
  3. Can you notice excessive tail swishing, when in the stables, when riding or both?
  4. Do they Paw at the ground in an anxious, stressed or frustrated manner?
  5. When you approach the horse with the saddle, will he or she threaten to bite you?
  6. When the girth is secured does your horse display any negative behaviour?
  7. Is your horse Reluctant to walk forwards when riding?
  8. Refusing to clear jumps of all levels.
  9. Is your horse taking unusually shorter strides?
  10. Your horse gets out of breath quickly and easily when being ridden.
  11. Your horse is bucking or rearing under saddle.
  12. Do you notice your horse hollowing their back and not working in an outline as directed?
  13. Is your horse often tripping or stumbling when out for a ride?
  14. Does your horse have an Inability to canter on a specific leg?
  15. Are they displaying Irregular leg movements that come as a concern?

If your horse shows any of these behavioural signs, it's likely time to get a saddle fitter out to evaluate the fit of your saddle, both for your horses mental and physical health, and to improve the quality of your time together.

You cannot expect to correct these behavioural signs through attempting to command or discipline your horse, as this will not improve the problem, instead glossing over the issue at hand. It is your responsibility to begin paying attention to your horse on a deeper level and ensure you are assisting them in doing their task by equipping them with a saddle that is sized properly and doesn't inflict pain or discomfort on them.

Having a well-fitting saddle is critical to your horse's happiness and health, as well as their performance. Treating your horse with respect and listening to their cues will only have a positive impact. Your horse will reward you with gorgeous rides whilst out hacking, as well as a noticeable boost in their performance and ability to do as you ask, which can only be a fantastic thing if you're aiming to win when competing!

If you're looking to purchase a new saddle after recieving some professional advice, why not take a look at our many new and used saddles, from brands you know and love that are suitable for a range of disciplines!

Alix Burchell
HorseClicks content team
Published on 29-04-2022
Alix is a part of the marketing team for HorseClicks. She'll keep you up to date with all the latest industry news and provide you with helpful guides and advice.