Choosing a Saddle Fitter - Part 3

 Qualifications You've seen it, all over the place on social media, leaflets, website, articles, especially from the public bodies, the official ones – "always use a qualified saddle fitter".  So what does that mean?  What are the qualifications and is a qualified fitter always better?  Are there valid reasons for ignoring this advice? The first thing to say is that I am sticking my neck a LONG way out by making this post as the content could be construed as quite political! I have flirted with joining one of the main organisations, of taking their qualification. I ummed and ahhed for a very short time after attending a short course with them, but ultimatel...

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First things first; this is part of a new series of posts so, if you've not already seen these do hop over to my video https://youtu.be/E6S3EEp-kzA where I introduce this topic, and link it to a recent blog post https://stephaniebloomsaddlefitter.co.uk/blog-and-resources/why-cant-saddle-fitters-agree,.  Once you've done that, read on! As I mention in the video the first thing to do is to decide on your personal criteria as not all the fitters are the same – what is important to you?  Not to your mates on the yard, not to your other half, or your trainer, but to you. Let's look at a couple of examples. For instance, if it's a high priority to be ab...

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Where do I start when choosing a saddle fitter to work with?!

This is the start of a new mini series of blogs that I'll roll out over the next few weeks. The industry isn't easy to understand from the outside as I outlined in my blog of February 19th 2024 and so often finding a new saddle fitter is challenging, and even feels traumatic for some people! I for one am glad there are lots of different approaches out there as I think our horses benefit, but it can make these selections tricky for horse owners. This video, released originally on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/stephbloomspecialistsaddlefitter, links that last blog post to the new series looking at the industry in some depth, with the aim of helping you better choose a fitter who tr...

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Why can't saddle fitters agree?!

 Isn't there great comfort in a set of rules?  For my job, a "universal truths of saddle fitting", so you can assess saddles and fitters against each other? If only. Did you know there are many, many ways to fit a saddle? The series of debates hosted by the Professional Saddle Fitter's Association (linked to at the bottom of the article) looks at this issue and the divisiveness it causes. Most designers and fitters are trained in, usually, just one of these many approaches/protocols for what a well-fitting saddle looks like. I write this as a fitter who fitted only one (admittedly brilliant!) brand for 12 years and then had to almost re-learn everything I thought I knew to tak...

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The Search for Knee Room

Do you find that your upper leg, your femur, never seems to have space in the "average" saddle?  That you're not tall, or especially long legged, but you struggle to keep your knee on the saddle, whether it's a show saddle, a jump saddle, or somewhere in between?  It's so often a tick box on the list of anyone looking for a new saddle, and posts on various FB groups an other social media so often cite this as the rider's biggest challenge with saddle fitting. In the States many saddle fitters have spent a long time arguing that generally people are in too-small saddles. 18" and even 19" are not uncommon seat sizes, unlike in the UK.  This is often an attempt to deal with knee ...

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My horse has been out of work, when should I get my saddle checked?

Has your horse had a layoff from injury or perhaps just a little winter or R&R time off?  If it's been more than a month or so, and sometimes even if less than that, it's highly likely your horse has changed shape. Have you ever had a thin shim inserted under the front or back of your saddle, or a small handful of flocking added to rebalance it at a saddle fitting?  You'll no doubt have been astonished at how much difference just a couple of mm change in the fit can make.  Well, guess what?  Your horse is on the other end of that change.  You think that he/she hasn't changed shape?  Do you think you could actually spot a change ...

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The Used Saddle Conundrum

I love the two brands I fit, but they're both rare, ErgoX2 especially, though as we grow in the UK that will shift a little. Since the advent of the internet saddle fitters have been in a bind.  The web has allowed buyers and sellers much better access to each other, an ability to buy used saddles directly from private (and trade) sellers all over the country, or even the world, should have been transformative. But saddles don't like to play nice like that.... Saddles are so individual, so complex.  There are thousands and thousands of model/seat/flap/width/colour combos out there, probably hundreds of thousands, so even the web has struggled to make this market function perfectly....

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Remote Saddle Checks

For horses that are changing shape rapidly eg remedial fits, young horses, horses progressing fast through their training, this can be really useful to do in between hands-on fittings.  If you have a saddle with a choice of girth straps, and a selection of thicknesses of pads, or even better a shim pad, then there is a certain amount we can do with you making the adjustments under my guidance. If a saddle gets slightly out of balance, or otherwise has pressure points, it's highly likely that they will get worse over time causing issues with your horse's musculature and way of going, and even causing discomfort for you.  All of this can lead to expense and lost opportuniti...

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Wonky Donkeys (not about actual donkeys!)

(to quote Ant and Dec!) Have you ever caught yourself thinking "my horse isn't that croup high, surely?", and as you go round to the other side you sigh with relief, it's obviously an optical illusion….except it's not an illusion at all. Early in my saddle fitting career I started to notice that several things were going on: If I ever occasionally got sent photos of horses from both sides, rather than the one I used to ask for, I often saw a different front to back balance. In the actual fitting process the saddle could look in perfect balance from one side, but out of balance on the other side and yet the saddle was straight at the back. This really challenged my thinking! That most sa...

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Checking your own saddle

Knowing how your saddle should fit, and when to call the fitter, can save your horse discomfort and ultimately save you money in extra physio or other therapy bills.It can be easy to nip problems in the bud when you know what you're looking for. This is the first in a series of three articles I'll be writing on how to keep an eye on your saddle.It is NOT a substitute for having professional checks regularly.For horses with issues this can sometimes mean checks 4 times a year, for horses without problems then having your saddle checked every six months is advised.However horses don't change shape on schedule, equally if a tiny flocking adjustment was the difference between a good and a bad fi...

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Back Profile and Tree Selection – Part 1 – Horses with withers

Thanks everyone for your input on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, I'm making a start on your suggestions for blog topics, here is I'll start by looking at tree selection for particular back profiles. Now, I'm a different kind of saddle fitter as most of you know, I fit for wider horses, that generally have less wither.  However, I can talk in general terms about back shapes for more "average" shaped horses and the principals that will guide tree selection.I do fit for some horses that are "only" a wide fit and have a bit more wither and we'll be looking at those. The first caveat to this discussion is that the side-on back profile really has bearing on only ONE aspect of tree shape...

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© Stephanie Bloom Saddle Fitter 2019


Back Profile and Tree Selection – Part 2 – Horses with low or no withers

Hopefully you found part one on horses with withers useful, now let's get onto a bit more of a specialist topic for me, flatter backs and mutton withers! If you read the last post you'll already have an idea of what we're looking at here – lower pommels and flatter seats.And you'd mostly be right but I'll add in a little caveat later.So let's look at some flatter backed horses, and some suitable saddles. First we have Fiona Gunn's Connemara.Her pony is a classic shaped Connemara, a low wither to a pretty flat back, not totally straight as some can be (Icelandics and others can have "ruler-straight" backs).Here are the landmarks we looked at last time, though often harder to see in round poni...

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Emma Sayer and her day shadowing Steph

Since a teenager I have always had an interest in how a saddle should fit correctly. I have been very lucky and have met some wonderful instructors who taught me very good basics of saddle fitting at pony club for all my tests. I have always been a bit of a stickler for making sure my saddles fitted as well as they could do and hope that I know enough to make small adjustments for when changes occur in between saddle fittings. When I first met Steph Bloom I was amazed at how easily she could see something so small in a fitting of a saddle that would make a big difference in the way a horse would go. Over the summer I was lucky enough to spend a day with Steph out saddle fitting in our l...

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Tips for Selling a Used Saddle

At AH Saddles we run a group on Facebook for selling specialist cob, native and other wide/flat types of saddles and we see some fairly shocking ads!  If you get it wrong then it might even mean you can't sell your saddle, or will get less money for it.  Get it right (including pricing it realistically!) and you'll likely sell it more quickly and often for a better price. I'm going to focus on what photos to take and include, pricing is a fine art but a broad piece of advice is to go to half the price you paid or, if you're really lucky, the current price, and go down from there if your saddle is older than 2 years or so, or if it has significant wear or tear.&n...

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