Trekker Fitting Guide
Please note, this is a basic guide. On purchasing our Trekker Saddles, we offer all customers an in-depth and personalised fitting consultation.
The TREKKER Pro Endurance, Pro Arte, Luxus & Talent saddles are multi-adaptable, for an optimum fit.
Transport occasionally causes superficial dents on the saddle and/or panels. These will soon disappear after unpacking. One or both panels may have been removed for transport. Simply Velcro each panel onto the underside of the saddle, taking care to align the front of the panel with the front of the saddle and align the edge of the panel along the edge of the Velcro. This is the starting point for fitting the saddle.
Please note; if in any doubt about the fit of the saddle, please seek advice from a professional saddle-fitter. A saddle which seems to sit correctly may change with the rider mounted. Seek a friend’s assistance to either a) observe the fit of the saddle whilst riding the three paces (and over small obstacles for the Inspiration and Bascule models), or b) film for verification after. The best environment for this is an arena.
Place the saddle in the correct position on your horse’s back, lining the front edge of the saddle flap directly behind his shoulder muscle. The saddle flap MUST sit behind the shoulder blade and muscles for your horse’s complete freedom of movement. For more detail, see Saddle Length in section 2 of this guide.
The girth placement may seem marginally further back behind your horses front legs. If your horse has a forward girth-groove, we recommend a Banana shaped girth, which sits forward without dragging the saddle away from the correct position. For more detail, see Girth Straps in section 2 of this guide.
Once the saddle is in position, stand behind your horse and look through the space between the panels (the gullet). The panels must sit clear of your horse’s spine (approximately 5cm on each side), and be placed evenly. This eliminates pressure on the supraspinous ligaments that run parallel to the spine, ‘connecting’ the individual bones. For more detail, see Channel/gullet width in section 2 of this guide
Pommel Width and Balance
Place a numnah or saddle pad under the saddle, pulling it up into the gullet and place the saddle on the horse in the correct position. Check the flat part of the seat is level. Place a tube of lipstick, or similar shaped item, horizontally across the centre of the seat. Any backward or forward roll indicates your seat isn't level. Adjust the pommel accordingly. For more detail, see Balance in section 2 of this guide.
If the saddle is higher in front, open the pommel up by turning the horizontal bar in the pommel. The saddle will lower at the front as the pommel widens, and level the seat.
If the saddle is higher at the cantle, tighten the pommel and the front end will lift, rebalancing the saddle.
Briefly mount the horse then dismount to check the saddle is still level.
NB; a feeling of pitching forwards means either the pommel isn’t tight enough or the saddle is placed too far forward.
The saddle needs to be a snug fit without pinching. Whilst on board, there must be sufficient room to slide two to three fingers under the pommel at all points. Any less indicates the pommel will interfere with the withers/shoulder during motion. Ask a friend to slide their hand under the edges of the saddle at all points (between the horse and the saddle-panels) whilst you are mounted. They are checking for a snug but not tight fit. For more detail, see Pommel Width/Pommel Angle in section 2 of this guide.
Check the girth 3 times before mounting. Horses tend to blow their ribs outwards when being saddled and it is harder to check a dressage girth once mounted. Girth up then walk the horse for two to three minutes then tighten the girth. Allow another couple of minutes before doing a final check. Over tightening the girth serves no purpose. It will pinch the horse and restrict his breathing. Once fitted and girthed correctly, the saddle will not slip.
We usually transport saddles with the cantle adjusted to its largest seat size (18”/45cm). Try the saddle for comfort at this setting first. In our experience, even our more petite riders prefer the larger seat.
To adjust the seat size;
- Remove the panels. Locate the two tracks/slits in the Velcro, where two of the three screws that adjust the cantle are situated.
- Pull back the leather strip to expose the third track/slit, found directly in the centre. Each track/slit contains a screw.
- Peel back the leather on the top of the saddle seat, starting at the cantle. Pull the seat away far enough to expose the tracks on which you are going to slide the cantle forward.
- Loosen the screws on the bottom of the saddle and slide the cantle forward to the desired seat size position.
- Tighten all three screws and replace leather over the seat.
- Check the cantle is anchored securely on both sides and solidly attached before replacing the leather back over the seat.
Your saddle is fitted with two sets of stirrup bars to accommodate individual preferences. The forward bar is for a ‘General Purpose Seat’ and the back bar is for a more classical ‘Dressage Seat.’ Choose the bar which keeps the vertical line, ear, shoulder, hip, heel.
Clean the saddle regularly, using a small amount of high quality leather polish and a soft cloth. Too much grease or oil can damage the stitching. Use special suede-care products on the suede part or a suede brush to remove any dirt.
The use of Dressage, T-Bar or Comfort leathers will avoid placing uncomfortable buckles under your thigh. Alternatively, position the buckles of traditional stirrup leathers at the bottom, by the iron.
Always mount from a mounting block to avoid putting uneven or extra pressure on your horse’s back.
Always introduce a new saddle quietly and slowly, in a safe environment. Allow the horse to acclimatise to the new sensation on their back. Ground-school the horse before mounting and/or hacking.
If in doubt, seek the advice of a professional saddle-fitter.
Surface material; vegetable-tanned, German cattle leather.
Inside; memory foam and pure wool felt.
The saddle comes with a two-year Manufacturer Guarantee, held directly with the manufacturer.
The principals of saddle fitting
Horses were not designed to be ridden. Saddles are, at best, a comfortable compromise, at worst, a dangerous weapon. This section is to help you find that comfortable compromise and ensure your horse has a long and happy working life. The rider can learn much about the fit of the saddle by the horse’s behaviour and action. Though it would be presumptuous to say a happy horse means the saddle fits, an unhappy horse is probably demonstrating his saddle hurts.
When buying a saddle, or beginning work when your horse has been out of action, it is essential to check that the saddle fits properly for your horse’s continued comfort and freedom of action. Remember, muscles take four weeks to build up, and only one week to lose shape. This means any interruption to exercise/training may mean your saddle fits less well than before. Although fitting a saddle is an art, best done by an expert, the following guide will help a sensitive and seasoned rider.
Most treeless are not designed for jumping, therefore we can only recommend their use for small obstacles with established, balanced riders. However, the Trekker Inspiration and Trekker Bascule are constructed with flexible trees, specifically for riders wishing to include jumping in their work/schooling programme.
Please note most of the following principals are for observing the saddle from the ground, without the rider on board. The natural position, weight and balance of the rider, plus the vagaries of the horse will affect the saddle. It is impossible to fully determine the fit of a saddle without testing it mounted, through the three paces, and over fences, if the saddle is to be used for jumping.
While treeless saddles differ from saddles with solid trees, the following principals apply to both.
SADDLE LENGTH; The horse, not the rider, determines the length of the saddle. The front of the weight-bearing part of the saddle must sit behind the upper limit of the shoulder blade. Use a piece of chalk to trace the arc shape of shoulder blade. Now use the chalk to trace the last rib. Use your fingers to locate it on the horse’s side then trace its line up to the spine. If you find this difficult, notice where the two directions of hair meet towards the back of your horse’s barrel on his side and trace a vertical line from there up towards the spine. Either of these marks show where the 18th thoracic vertebra lies, beyond which the saddle panel, also known as the support area, should not extend. The effect of an overly long saddle is either a shunt forward into the shoulder or the rider sits over the weak point of the horse’s spine. Both actions will have a long-term devastating effect on your horse.
SADDLE BALANCE; the pommel and cantle should be level. Take a cotton-reel and pace it in the deepest part of the saddle with the saddle on the horse’s back. Does the reel stay in position, or does it roll forwards or back? Whatever the cotton-reel does, indicates what the rider will do. An overly high pommel sends the rider towards the cantle, putting undue pressure over the last two floating ribs, the weakest area of the spine. This, at best, makes it difficult for the horse to engage his hind quarters. At worst it causes pain, leading to physiological and behavioural problems. If the saddle sits low in front, it will pinch into the horse’s shoulder, which restricts the horse and makes him reluctant to go forward. It will also promote a chair seat to compensate for rider-imbalance.
STRAIGHTNESS; not to be confused with balance. The centre of the saddle must be in line with your horse’s spine. Check this, with caution, from behind the horse. Most horses are naturally asymmetrical, more often their left shoulder has a greater muscle mass than the right. The larger shoulder knocks the saddle during motion, and often it is the back of the panel on that side that lands on the horse’s spine, leading to long-term back problems. Equally so, most riders are asymmetrical. This imbalance can lead to compression of the stufﬁng more on one side of the saddle, dragging it over in that direction.
WITHER CLEARANCE; not only should the saddle clear the top of the withers by 2-3 fingers when mounted, it should clear the sides of the withers by a similar margin to accommodate the upward and backward shoulder rotation during movement. Pinching at the withers will make the horse reluctant to go forwards. Long term pinching of the withers will affect the nerves, often seen by sores or patches of white hair.
CHANNEL/GULLET WIDTH; Measure the width of the spine from to assess the width of the gullet. Find the centre of the spine. Gently feel either side for the outer limits of the sensitive ligament area (+/- 10cm). Use the thumb and middle finger of one hand to make a bridge between these two points. Slide the other hand under the bridge to measure. This is the area the saddle must not touch, meaning the saddle gullet width must be the same. When this basic principal is adhered to, the saddle-panels, and therefore the rider’s weight, sit on the long back muscles, not the spine or ligaments. This width does not change along the length of the horse’s spine, so the width of the gullet must not widen or narrow from front to back.
A gullet that is too narrow will cause the saddle to pinch the spine. Too wide, the saddle will sit onto the spine. Either fault can cause permanent damage to your horse’s back.
PANEL/PAD CONTACT; Treeless saddles, by their very nature, mould discreetly to the shape and weight of the rider. The rider’s position and effectiveness of the panel stuffing affects the weight distribution. The stuffing in superior treeless saddles is designed to reduce and/or eliminate pressure points. With that in mind, treeless saddles must be checked for panel/pad contact by evaluating the evenness of sweat patterns and hair interference.
TREKKER INSPIRATION AND BASCULE
GIRTH STRAPS; should hang towards the girth area (the narrowest point of the ribcage). Although Trekker saddles sit behind the shoulder, positioned too far back, gravity will drag the girth and saddle forward, ramming the saddle and rider into the horse’s shoulder-blade. Too far forward and the girth will interfere with the elbow. Then gravity will ultimately drag the girth and saddle back into the correct position, but this results in the rider sitting over the loin area. Unbalancing for the rider and painful for the horse.
By its very nature, there is a degree of latitude with the pommel width on the flexible tree. However, the overall width of the horse must be considered, so these models come in narrow, medium and wide.
POMMEL ANGLE; draw a chalk-line on the back of the shoulder to accentuate its angle. The angle of the pommel (and therefore the panel) must be parallel with the angle of the horse’s shoulder to allow the shoulder blade to rotate upwards and backwards under the saddle during movement, without interference. This is measured by the line of the piping on the front of the panel flap. Any pinching at the withers or shoulder will affect the nerves, making it impossible for the horse to move forwards without reluctance and difficulty.
POMMEL WIDTH; do not be deceived by simply sitting the saddle on the horse. Remember the pommel width relates to the width of the withers plus the width at the top of the shoulder because the shoulder rotates up and back under the saddle during movement. The pommel width must accommodate, not restrict, the horse’s shoulder movement. However, if the pommel is too wide, the saddle may rock or slip from side to side, or the back of the saddle may twist. The angle and width adjust simultaneously.
Limitation of Liabilityestrian activities can be dangerous. In no event shall Equine Whispers or its owners be liable for any direct, indirect, punitive, incidental, special, consequential damages, or any damages whatsoever arising out of or connected with the use or misuse of its product(s). Buyer assumes all risks and liability from use of product(s).
Always check equipment before use on every occasion that it is used for signs of wear and tear or damage. Do not use the equipment if it is showing any signs of wear and tear or damage. If the equipment is within the warranty period you must stop using it and return it for repair or replacement.
You are responsible for the safety of You and Your equine and must always choose equipment that is appropriate to You and Your equine, it is essential that you are properly trained and experienced before applying any new equipment to an equine. If you have any doubts about Your capabilities or suitability of the equipment for Your equine please seek expert assistance before using any products.