Remedial Saddle Fitting
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There is a massive array of numnahs and girths available on the market and fitting the right one is just as important as fitting the saddle.
Numnahs/ saddle cloths
Numnahs can completely change the saddle fit. A very thick numnah under a well fitting saddle can actually make it too narrow. But it can also be useful during the winter months if the horse has got thinner and the saddle is slightly wide. Consult your saddle fitter if you're not sure which to use.
If the saddle fits perfectly then no numnah is required but if you want to use something to keep the saddle clean then a thin cotton numnah is all that's required.
I would recommend those made from natural fibres e.g. cotton, wool, sheepskin as they have good properties. Cotton is cool and breathable. Sheepskin is good for circulation and provides support without blocking muscle development.
Fitting a numnah
Make sure it's big enough - plenty of space all the way round so no pressure points are created by turned edges or straps
Make sure the numnah is pulled right up into the gullet (front and back) so it doesn't press on the horse's back causing pressure - high withered numnahs are recommended for all horses as they give good clearance over the wither
A good girth is important for the care of the horse and safety of the rider to keep the saddle in place .
Again I would recommend one made from a natural material e.g. soft, supple leather or lampwick (wool) for their beneficial properties.
A word of warning about elasticated girths which have become very popular. They may seem kinder to the horse but they have drawbacks. Girths elasticated on one side can unbalance the saddle as the elastic will allow the saddle to roll to one side. Girths elasticated on both sides can allow the saddle to lift particularly when jumping. Also it's easy to overtighten an elasticated girth and stretching the elastic can pull the saddle with it. To avoid these issues the best place for elastic is through the middle of the girth.
Fitting a girth
The girth should be tight so that you can just slip a hand between it and the horse. Beware not to overtighten as it can restrict the horse's movement and his ability to breathe. If you feel like the saddle will move if it's not really tight then there could be an issue with the saddle fit so consult your saddle fitter
When it's done up it should be halfway up the flap (3/4 holes up) evenly on both sides. If it's more or less then you will need a shorter or longer girth.
Usually the wider the girth the better but that depends on where the horse's seat of girth lies - if it is very far forward then there may not be room. 3 inches wide would be a minimum.
Make sure the surface which lies next to the horse is smooth and has no pressure points e.g. seams. If using a girth sleeve make sure the seams are to the outside.
Make sure dressage girths clear the elbow. It will cause the horse discomfort and restrict movement if his elbow comes into contact with the buckles at every stride.