Understanding Saddle Fitting – Pamela McNellis

Una variedad de técnicas de ajuste de sillines están disponibles hoy en día. La forma más común de ajustar o evaluar el ajuste del sillín es haciendo un trazado a la cruz. Hay muchos sitios web que muestran cómo hacer un seguimiento de la cruz que puede funcionar para su caballo, pero hay algunos puntos a considerar. La mayoría de las veces, un rastreo de marchitamiento solo le dirá lo que no funcionará. A pesar de que el rastreo puede revelar un ajuste, inevitablemente se enfrenta a una situación de prueba y error que puede llevar mucho tiempo, por no mencionar la frustración.

Buscar en la web y leer la gran cantidad de información sobre cómo ajustar un sillín puede ser confuso. ¡Hay tanta información! Gran parte de la información que recopilamos puede incluso ser contradictoria. Con suerte, podemos aclarar y resolver algunas confusiones mientras sigues leyendo. Consulte nuestro artículo sobre el montaje de sillas para caballos de escuela .

El tamaño sí importa

En primer lugar hablaremos del “árbol” o base sobre la que se construye el sillín. Puede encontrar términos como “Cuarto completo, Semi-cuarto, Cuarto de caballo, Tiro, Árabe, Andado, Asociación, Mula, Ancho, Regular, Estrecho”, etc. al describir un árbol específico. Estos términos pueden llevarnos a asumir que un nombre específico de un árbol es para un caballo específico.

Ajuste del sillín: el tamaño sí importa

Mi primer caballo fue un cuarto de milla y me dijeron que debería caber en un árbol de cuarto de milla regular . Está bien. Eso es fácil. Compré una silla de montar en una tienda local de tachuelas que fue diseñada con barras Regular Quarter Horse . Ese sillín no se quedaría en su lugar. Constantemente tenía que mover el sillín hacia adelante y seguía deslizándose hacia un lado cuando intentaba montar. ¿Te suena esto familiar? Este es un problema muy común cuando un sillín no encaja. Este caballo tolerante estaba tratando de decirme… esto no funciona!!!

Another dilemma, I received all kinds of advice from my fellow riders, friends, tack stores, etc. (I know they were just trying to help me, and I was desperate) I was told I needed a thicker pad, which would help pad against the areas that might be rubbing on the horse where it didn’t fit correctly. Trying nearly a 15 pound, inch-thick fleece pad sounded like a great idea. Right? It made sense, yet that only made things worse. The pad didn’t breathe at all and hung a good foot out the back and the saddle would actually push the pad back. These pads can work for some and I have seen success, yet it all boils down to saddle fit.

Imagine having purchased a pair of shoes that are too narrow yet a size bigger than you wear. Would you put a larger thicker sock on to make it fit better? Maybe a thick boot sock? Now envision wearing a boot sock with a shoe that is way too narrow. Let’s try that example with a 50 pound back pack for a 3 mile hike up the mountain. You wouldn’t get far before you would turn back and want to go bare foot for the trek back. Now imagine how your horse feels with that thick pad and saddle that doesn’t fit. The saddle needs to fit. Bottom line.

The purpose of the tree of the saddle is to disperse the rider’s weight across the horse’s back evenly. If the tree doesn’t fit, the rider’s weight will be dispersed only in the areas where the tree comes in contact with the horses back. Here is an extreme example, A really sway-backed horse that is ridden in a saddle that has no slope from front to back creating severe bridging. The tree of the saddle is only in contact with the horse in the front and the back. When you mount this horse, your total weight is divided to the front and the back areas where the saddle is in contact with the horse. Ouch!!! This will create a real problem. Bucking, rearing, bolting, biting, kicking and so very dangerous! Another indication of possible poor saddle fit is if your horse is not standing still while mounting or tacking up. If your horse is showing any of this behavior, check your saddle fit. I have seen horses with these behaviors totally disappear or change for the better once the saddle fit is corrected.

RELATED: Bridging saddles shim for saddle fit swayback horse

What’s in a Name?

Keep in mind, when considering the “name” on the tree of the saddle as each manufacturers tree will differ even though the name may be the same. “Crates” brand “Full Quarter” is totally different from “Tex Tans” “Full Quarter”. Don’t get stuck on the names a manufacturer labels a saddle to be. You want it to fit, not by name, but by the specific fit.  Just because you have a Quarter Horse, it doesn’t mean a horse may not fit a “Gaited” or “Draft” tree.

A “Wide” tree can mean many different things. Think of the angle of your horse’s back as an A-frame. As the bottom of the A widens the A becomes flatter.   A flatter A-frame would fit a flatter backed horse. Also, the front bars of the tree can flare out or come out straight which will add to assessing the fit.

No puede colocar una silla de montar en un caballo en una posición de equilibrio si no encaja.In this photo, we have placed a saddle tree on Mocha’s back. The manufacturer has labeled this tree as “Full Quarter” which we will consider being a “Wide” tree.

This is not a good fit for this horse. You can see gaping areas behind the shoulder. This particular tree has bars that come out fairly straight. You can see in the picture below, the shoulders of the horse would push this tree back when ridden and the tree would be tipping forward and raising in the back which would throw the rider totally off balance! Very difficult for a rider and horse to travel balanced in this situation.  Note: You can not place a saddle on a horse in a balanced position if it does not fit. You will constantly have to re-position it.

No puede colocar una silla de montar en un caballo en una posición de equilibrio si no encaja.

A closer look shows this tree would dig into the shoulders. Pay attention to the pommel sitting on the withers of the horse. Add the weight of the rider and you have a real nightmare! Now you might say this is too wide. If you made the angle (A-frame) narrower it would lift that pommel, yet narrowing the angle would not help as this horse has huge shoulders. This horse is a very difficult fit. Her short back is another problem with fit. Most production line saddles are too long to accommodate a short backed horse. You may also be interested in our guide to saddle fitting a thoroughbred horse.

Wither Tracing para el ajuste correcto del sillín



The majority of our saddle fitting is done by the use of Steele Fit Forms, which have a wide array of forms that mirror various horse backs. You can see below, this form/tree would accommodate Mocha’s large shoulders. This particular tree flares in the front and there is good contact throughout the bar area of the tree. Here is where things get a little tricky. A gullet measurement is not going to tell whether a saddle will fit or not. Why? Even though a wide enough tree (which is shown here fitting this big shouldered horse) had bars that came out straight, you would have no contact on the back of the saddle even though the shoulders would be free.

How To Properly Use Shim Pads for Asymmetrical HorsesAlmohadilla de ajuste de sillín de barril de fieltro

Many horses like Mocha are not symmetrical. She is more muscular on one side which means the tree will not have as much contact in the bar area on one side. The tree could be modified on one side, yet this is not suggested. The best suggestion would be to exercise the side that needs developing which will create more balance. Another option is to incorporate a shim pad. This would be an ideal situation for a shim pad.

Word of caution, NEVER use a shim pad to fix a saddle that does not fit. Shim pads are used to slightly fill in areas where the saddle is not in contact with the horses back. A shim pad would not help the saddle shown above that is slipping. Also see our English pad range and Western pad range.

The Right Saddle Fit Can Make All the Difference

El ajuste correcto del sillín puede marcar la diferenciaOne last story regarding saddle fit. Nearly 7 years ago we rescued a horse. This horse had not been ridden successfully and had serious trust issues. According to the owner’s grandson, they were attempting to ride this beautiful naturally gaited horse with no success. The last attempted ride, the saddle slipped under her belly, she bucked off the rider and never rode her again. The saddle they were putting on this horse was a horrible fit and extremely narrow through the shoulder area. After bringing her home, we spent weeks, months and years retraining this horse. Although she is fully trained now, she remembers the saddle slipping incident. She will stand for mounting yet you can see her eyes widen and she still trembles until you are in the saddle. It is a shame as this could have been avoided had the saddle fit in the first place.

Una vez que obtenga el ajuste correcto para su caballo, no podrá creer lo dispuesto y adelantado que se volverá su caballo. Verá un caballo totalmente diferente que se mueve con fluidez y está equilibrado. Tanto el caballo como el jinete se benefician de una silla que se ajusta correctamente.

Asegúrese de descartar un mal ajuste del sillín si esto está en duda. No vale la pena arruinar el vínculo de confianza. La confianza es la “clave” para construir una base sólida y una relación duradera con su caballo. ¡Rastros felices!

~Pamela McNellis


Nota: Puede leer más publicaciones sobre  el ajuste del sillín aquí .


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