A good saddle fit promotes good muscle development and allows free movement making the horse fitter and stronger and less susceptible to injury and behavioural problems.
An holistic approach is required to fit a saddle effectively
A consultation may take up to an hour and will include a full assessment of the horse, rider and saddle. This includes taking a wither patttern, walking up and watching the horse under saddle and may even include liaising with other equine professionals such as the vet or physiotherapist.
However, once the saddle has been fitted there are many factors which can affect your horse's shape and affect the saddle fit so getting your saddle checked regularly by a qualified saddle fitter is essential.
seasonal changes - many horses are wider in the summer when they out at grass than in the winter when food is not so plentiful. In times gone by riders had different saddles for summer and winter but that's not an affordable option for most of us. Fortunately there are many types of numnahs and pads which can get round this issue but riders need to understand what and when to use them so speak to your saddle fitter to find out more.
environment changes - if you've changed yards or you have bought a new horse he might change shape due to changes in routine and diet
physical changes - if the horse has been out of work, injured or ill the back muscles may have wasted.
age - young horses will be underdeveloped, older horses may have middle age spread
Where a horse has an underdeveloped musculature, e.g. deep hollows behind the wither, the saddle will need to be fitted sympathetically and may require frequent adjustment until the muscles are fully developed. It's vital that the muscles are not restricted so they can work and strengthen yet the saddle must still be supported so padding e.g. Prolite or Fybagee may be used temporarily. The pads provide support in the absence of muscle but still allows muscle development. The horse's musculature often recovers very quickly (in a matter of weeks) once the horse is comfortable and able to move freely. Always consult your saddle fitter when using padding as they could worsen the condition if not used appropriately.