Last Updated on October 10, 2021 by Cristina
Learning how to measure a saddle can be a daunting experience – how do you know where to start? Getting the right size gullet on your saddle is vital to ensure your horse is comfortable. But how do you know how to measure the gullet of an English saddle?
Don’t panic, we’re here to help! We’ve taken an in-depth look at how to fit a saddle to a horse. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about how to measure a saddle!
Why Is Measuring A Saddle Important
Being able to measure a saddle is vital for ensuring it fits your horse correctly. Horses’ backs may appear strong and muscular, but using a badly fitted saddle will cause them pain. In the worst-case scenario, your horse may sustain a long-term injury and even behavioral problems when ridden.
Specific areas on the horse’s back are prone to injury through a badly fitting saddle. The withers can become sore if rubbed; this normally happens if the gullet of the saddle is too wide. If the gullet is too narrow, the muscles along the spine will be restricted and become painful.
If the overall length of the saddle is too long, it will press on the scapula. This is the long shoulder bone at the top of the forelegs. This pressure will be very uncomfortable and can hinder the movement of the horse.
Pain caused by a badly fitting saddle can be very difficult to resolve. The horse may need a long rest period to recover and retraining if it associates the saddle with back pain. It is always best to ensure the right fitting saddle is used from the start, to avoid these problems.
If you are new to measuring and fitting saddles, it is always best to get the help of an expert saddle fitter. It is all too easy to make a mistake when fitting a saddle, and this can be a painful experience for your horse.
What Is The Gullet Of A Saddle?
When we are looking at the parts of a saddle, the gullet is one of the most important parts. If you turn your saddle upside down, you will see a tunnel that runs down the center of the saddle – this is the gullet.
The gullet holds the bars of the saddle together. The angle of the gullet determines the fit of the saddle on the horse’s back. A narrow, thin horse will need a very different gullet to a rounded, wide horse.
Unfortunately, there are no standardized gullet measurements in the saddle-making industry. You will often see saddles advertised as narrow, standard, or wide, but there is no set measurement for each size. This can make it difficult to purchase the correct saddle for your horse.
Being able to measure the gullet of a saddle yourself can help to avoid a lot of trial and error when it comes to fitting a saddle.
How To Measure A Saddle Gullet
To measure a saddle gullet, we need to know a little about how a saddle is made. The gullet is formed by the tree of the saddle – this is essentially the spine of the seat, which gives the saddle its strength.
The tree and gullet of the saddle are the part that must be carefully fitted around the horse’s spine. A correctly fitted saddle will apply even pressure on either side of the spine, without restricting the horse’s movements.
Attached to the tree on each side are the bars of the saddle. If you peek in between the skirts or flaps of the saddle, you will be able to see where these bars attach, just underneath the pommel.
The bars of the saddle are fitted at different angles, according to the shape of the horse. A wide-backed horse will need a saddle with a wider angle of bars than a narrow-backed horse.
Manufacturers will often give the gullet size of their saddles, as well as other measurements. However, this gullet size is based on the size of the tree and is taken before the saddle is finished. This means that the padding and leather which covers the tree are not taken into account.
How To Measure The Gullet Of An English Saddle
To measure the gullet of an English saddle, place it carefully on a saddle rack or over a gate or stable door. Have a good look at the saddle from the front – can you see where the bars of the saddle attach onto the pommel? You may need to have a good rummage and feel around the saddle to find this point.
Once you have located the top of the bars of the saddle, take a tape measure and place one end on the underside of the saddle, level with the tops of the bars. Measure across to the same point on the other side – this distance is the width of the gullet of your saddle.
Remember that your measurement will be less than the manufacturer’s measurement. This is because you will have taken into account the padding and leather added after the tree was measured.
You can also measure the distance from the line between the bars of the saddle and the top of the gullet. This will give you the height of your gullet, which can be useful when fitting a saddle to a horse with high withers.
Read more about What Is The Average Jockey Height and Weight?
Is Western Saddle Gullet Measurement Different?
You would use the same technique is used when measuring the height and width of the gullet of a Western saddle. This is because Western and English saddles both contain the same basic structure, even though they look very different in appearance.
Fitting the correct saddle for you and your horse can take a lot of time and effort. Using the wrong saddle can be an expensive mistake if your horse becomes injured. It is worth spending time and money making sure the saddle is correctly fitted. Measuring the gullet is a vital part of ensuring the best fit of saddle for your horse.
Do you have any questions about how to measure the gullet of an English saddle? Perhaps you’ve got some feedback to share about your experiences with fitting saddles? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you!