How to adjust and fit a DP Saddle:

If you'd rather try a saddle before placing an order, why not hire a demo saddle? Then I can assist with fitting via photos, video, phone and email. This works very well and is the most popular option. Out of pocket expenses are postage costs and an $80 demo fee if a saddle order is not placed. If an order is placed, you are out of pocket for postage costs only.

Or, why not bring your horse here to Woodend Victoria if at all possible. I have had customers come from up to 4 hours away with their horses. This option is not attractive for everyone and I totally understand why, but it is an option. Cost is $80 if no saddle is ordered on the day. Fee is also refunded/taken off the price of a new saddle is one is ordered at a later date.

Saddle Fitting Tools:

The saddle fitting tools below are available to hire also. This is a great option if you cant afford to hire a demo saddle and your horse has unusual back conformation and/or you have had saddle fitting issues in the past.

So how do you know if your saddle fits your horse well?

Is he moving in a relaxed manner, happily complying with your aids? Or is he stiff, moving crookedly or resistant and disagreeable about being ridden?

If he falls into the latter category, chances are his back hurts. Astoundingly, Joyce Harman, DVM, MRCVS, reveals that 75 percent of horses showing poor movement and exhibiting a bad attitude do so because of pain caused by an ill-fitting saddle.

Imagine hiking or dancing in shoes that don't fit - maybe one size too small. Feeling fine for a few minutes, you begin to notice the pain gradually increase where the shoes rub or cause pressure points, then become unbearable. An agonising experience! The horse can feel this same sort of pain from an ill fitting saddle.

A good fitting saddle is not determined by brand, cost (though cheap is usually cheap) or style of a saddle - an expensive saddle can cause just as much harm as a cheap saddle if it has not been fitted correctly or sufficient steps taken to ensure as good a fit as is possible. A well fitting saddle is determined by one that allows the horses back to function correctly while at the same time keeping the rider in a well balanced position.

It is also very important (and often overlooked) to use a saddle fit for its purpose. This means if you wish to go for long trail rides, use a trail riding saddle such as a good quality Western or Western or Endurance type saddle. Not a flocked paneled saddle such as a rigid tree Dressage or All Purpose saddle which is designed for short (under an hour) arena type work-outs. The panels on the underside of English saddles are not made for long hours of riding. They are far too narrow to provide enduring comfort for the horses back. The narrow panels give the rider a closer leg contact for the ease of applying clearer leg aids such as are required during a dressage test for instance. A trail riding saddle should have wide, generous panels such as are found on Western and Endurance saddles.

DP Espera Saddle

This horse is moving along nicely with no signs of discomfort: his ears are relaxed but attentive to his rider, his eye is calm, tail is relaxed, the stride is long, neck is 'telescoping' forward, his back is round and hind quarters are well engaged. This horse has found his 'Sweet Spot'!

Performance Problems Indicating Back Pain:

Performance problems can range from a mild protest when mounted to an explosive "bucking bronco" episode. Many if not most other difficulties encountered when training challenging horses can be traced to back pain and training usually becomes much improved when the saddle fit has been addressed.

Some horses either sink down when being mounted or tighten and 'hump' their backs during the first few minutes of riding. Others may actually buck early in the ride then settle down after warming up. This is what is commonly known as being "cold backed". However this is always an indication of back pain usually caused by an ill fitting saddle.

Some horses are very tense or stiff for the first part of the ride and then appear to relax after a period of time. This can be as a result of old injury or arthritis but often the saddle is to blame here also!

Many horses that tend to shy frequently or rush downhill in an unbalanced manner on the forehand should also be checked for saddle fit issues.

For horses that seem incapable of travelling in a straight line, even on flat ground, please have your saddle's tree inspected by a reputable saddle repairer. There is a very real possibility the tree is twisted or broken.

All too often the horse is blamed sighting bad attitude and sold on - which is a crying shame. The saddle should ALWAYS be investigated before such extreme measures are taken.

Behavioural Evidence of Poor Saddle Fit:

* Objects to being saddled: ears back, fidgeting etc.
* Unable to stand still when being mounted.
* Hypersensitive to brushing.
* General "bad attitude".
* Difficult to trim.
* Bucks or rolls excessively in paddock.
* Rearranges stall bedding.
* Displays repetitive behaviours.

Physical Evidence of Poor Saddle Fit:

* Obvious sores
* White hairs or Roaning
* Swellings after saddle removal
* Hard spots of muscle under skin
* Muscle wastage around the withers
* Friction rubs on the hair.

Examples of INCORRECTLY fitting Saddles:

Examples of CORRECTLY fitting Saddles: