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Does My Horse’s Saddle Fit? 15 Behavioural Signs To Look Out For...

Despite what some may think, horses are not disobedient or dangerous by nature. In general, they are very kind-natured and cooperative animals. However, this is dependent on two basic needs being met - they must understand what you are asking of them and they must be free from pain and discomfort to be able to do as asked.
Negative behaviour in horses is often the result of a poorly fitting saddle and it’s your duty as a horse owner or rider to recognise the telltale signs that your saddle may be the root cause of these issues. Once you know how to identify the signs, you’ll be in a better position to ensure you can rectify the issue as quickly as possible.
We’ve put together a list of the most common behavioural signs that your horse is likely to display if your saddle is causing a problem, to help you recognise when it’s time to call out a professional saddle fitter.

15 behavioural signs that your saddle is causing discomfort

There are plenty of ways in which your horse is likely to indicate that there’s a problem with the fit of their saddle, so keep an eye out for any of the following negative behaviours;
  1. Avoiding certain situations - do they try to walk away when being tacked up?
  2. Putting their ears back, shaking their head or showing their teeth when approached with a saddle
  3. Excessive tail swishing, both in the stables and when ridden
  4. Pawing the ground in a frustrated or anxious way
  5. Threatening to bite you when you come near with the saddle
  6. Displaying any negative behaviour when the girth is done up
  7. Reluctance to walk forward when being ridden
  8. Refusal of jumps
  9. Taking unusually short strides
  10. Getting out of breath quickly when ridden
  11. Bucking or rearing under saddle
  12. Hollowing their back and not working in an outline
  13. Tripping or stumbling when ridden
  14. Inability to canter on the right leg
  15. Irregular gaits
If your horse displays any of these signs, it’s time to get your saddle fitter out to assess the fit of your saddle.
Your horse is trying to communicate to you that there is a problem, so there is no point in whipping the horse or trying to discipline the horse, as it won’t improve the situation. You need to start listening to your horse and helping them to do their job by providing them with a saddle that fits correctly.
Having a well-fitted saddle is imperative to having a happy and healthy ridden horse. It's well worth the money spent on saddle fitting appointments and finding a good quality saddle to achieve this. Your horse will repay you with lovely rides out whilst hacking and a huge improvement in their demeanour and performance, which can only be a good thing if you are competing to win!
You can find your local saddle fitter here.

Free Saddle Fitting Guide

If you would like access to The Saddle Bank’s FREE Saddle Fitting Guide and our unmissable step-by-step checklist to ensure your saddle fits your horse, click here.
Want to know more?
If you want to learn more about how to recognise the signs your saddle does not fit, then join the many happy riders in The Saddle Bank Academy.
Get instant access to online courses all about horses from the comfort of your home. Learn about saddle fitting, anatomy, conformation and much more.

The Saddle Bank
New & Used Saddle Retailer
Published on 18-06-2021
The Saddle Bank is the UK's fastest growing and most trusted online saddle shop. The Saddle Bank provides quality used and new saddles available for trials across the UK. Jade, Director of The Saddle Bank, is passionate about horses and business. Jade loves to provide customers the information and advice they need in order to make the best decisions for their horses' welfare, including lots of information and advice about saddle fit and recognising saddle fit issues. The Saddle Bank also runs an Online Academy to help horse riders and owners learn more about horses, anatomy, conformation, saddle fit and horse management, from the comfort of their homes. More information can be found on The Saddle Bank website.