pre ride check : place on horse with no pad where it should ideally sit. does it appear level? close call? proceed to check further. is there room for the withers and the spine through the gullet? can you fit two fingers in the front of the gullet? two finger gap is considered ideal. next check is to run your hand vertically along the underside of the front of the saddle from top down. does it feel tight, or one spot of significant pressure change--tight or loose, either way? is there room for the shoulder? the saddle tree points should never sit over the shoulder blades while idle. the shoulder blade will slide down and under the saddle while moving, but it will also move outward and forward--it needs room to move outward and forward without restriction. the next check is to run your hand horizontally along the underside of the whole saddle from front to back feeling for pressure changes. you want to feel an even pressure the entire length. if it gets heavier, that is going to be a pressure point, if it gets lighter--usually in the middle--this means it will bridge and put too much pressure on other areas. another very important thing is to make sure the saddle itself is built well, and is not crooked in the tree--nothing will fix that. also observe where the girth line is in relation to where the billets fall when the saddle is in the ideal location. if there is significant difference, but the saddle fits otherwise, you will likely want to look into a shoulder relief style girth to help accommodate the difference. if you need to know where the tree point on your english saddle is, you should be able to find it by lifting the top flap and looking for a U shapped piece near the top of the billets. this is a piece of leather that cups the point of the tree to help hold the bottom panels on. also be aware of even padding on the underside, as it will affect the fit and pressure distribution. check both sides of the saddle as described above. checking like this has done very well for me and others. good luck!
- The wither must be free: the space between the saddle and the withers must pass 3 to 4 fingers, 2 on the sides. The shoulder should not be compressed.
- The saddle must be in balance. The pommel and cantle must be at the same height.
- Panels must release the spine of the horse.
- If the saddle rests on the lumbar ones, it is because it is too long.
- The strap and stirrups must be perpendicular to the ground
- Traces of sweat present after a session must be symmetrical and uniform.