The Arabian Sport Horse Magazine have to make some compromises, and forward balance saddles, upswept panels and swept-back (rearward-slanting) cantles are often good choices. The “forward balance” saddles (along the lines of which many saddles in the EU are made) are built so that the rider’s weight is carried and concentrated further forward, closer to the horse’s center of gravity. While this isn’t a theory to which I usually ad-
By Kitt Hazelton
Short back. Well-sprung rib cage. Laid back shoulder. Wellmuscled top line. Deep, well-angled hip. Powerful movement. All of these phrases describe the wonderful and desirable characteristics of the Arab sport horse. And it’s these characteristics that can make saddle fitting such a challenge with these horses. That short back can make it hard to find a saddle with a seat large enough for a bigger or taller rider. That powerful movement and well-angled hip can send the saddle shooting forward onto that wonderful, laid-back shoulder.
That well-sprung rib cage and
strongly muscled top line can make saddle perch like Stan Laurel’s bowler. While these saddle fitting issues can present a real challenge, here’s the good news: with some patience and tenacity – and help from a knowledgeable saddle fitter – finding the right saddle isn’t as tough as you might think. Let’s take a look at these issues, and their saddle fitting solutions. SHORT, WELL-MUSCLED BACK A short back is typical of many Arabs, and space for a saddle is often limited. This isn’t problematic if the rider is petite and only needs a 16.5” or 17” saddle … but if you’re a taller or larger rider and need a 17.5” or 18” seat, you may start to run out of “useable” back. Ideally, you want the rider’s weight to be spread over as large a bearing surface as possible without impinging on the rear of the scapula or extending rearward past the 18th thoracic vertebra (“T18”). With short backs and larger seat sizes, you often
keep the rider’s weight on the correct side of T18. These saddles often have thinner, upswept panels and swept-back cantles, like the Amerigo Alto dressage pictured below:
Photo courtesy Equestrian Imports
and the Arabian Sport Horse
here, it can be a huge help with short-backed horses, as it will
Saddles made in the UK can be had with those same options. Many can also be made with a more forward flap in conjunction to the upswept panel and swept-back cantle, to allow for more space for the rider without increasing seat size. This flap option is available on saddles of all disciplines, and is especially helpful in jump saddles. This Black Country Tex Eventer is a cross-country saddle with a very forward flap, a swept-back cantle and an upswept panel. It maximizes seat size for the rider while keeping the weight-bearing area of the panels minimal.
The April/May 2013 issue of The Arabian Sport Horse Magazine.