Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sport horse conformation: Saddle position

I'm now evaluating Riley's back, trying different saddles, and experiencing the new problem of  "saddle sliding forward."  Believe me that was never a problem with the Harvster (shown left at about age 11). He has a nice big wither, but I always felt like I was sitting in the back seat :-).

What is saddle position?
In sport horse breeding, one of the points of the conformation evaluation is "saddle position."  I figured it was an assessment of the back and wither area, but I always wondered what exactly was being evaluated. I posted my question to the COTH breeding forum. and...

I got  a great answer from TrinitySporthorses.com:

"They are mostly referring to the withers. They should be of moderate height and gently sloping into the back. Flaws would be mutton withers (very flat), withers that come to an abrupt end (rather than flowing harmoniously into the spine), extremely high withers that could make saddle fit very difficult. In a sport horse, you want the line of the front leg to be well in front of the withers, as this will make them lighter on the forehand. In some registries, the score for saddle position is part of the score for shoulder. ."

 What does a good saddle position look like?
You can see a photo of an awesome Bridlewood Hanoverian mare below--she got a "9" for saddle position...
Read more about Liandra: Check out them dapples (to say nothing of the neck)!

Here is a UK stallion that got a 9 for saddle position...
Dark DeNiro, UK Stud

At the moment, Ri seems straight-shouldered and muttony (when standing, at least). A friend is loaning me a thinline pad to see if the saddle will be a bit more stable...


  1. Since Riley it still young, his withers may well change as he continues to grow. I have a feeling this is just a phase he is going through.

    As well, his shoulder muscle will develop and that will also help keep the saddle from going too forward.

    Those horses you pictured are lovely and I was not aware that there were scores for saddle position. Very interesting.

  2. I'm in love with that mare! What a beauty.

  3. I have a dressage pad that has "rubbery bits" (think woven rubber like a non-slip pad for a rug) on the back, supposed to keep the saddle pad--and therefore, the saddle, if you use the keepers--in place.

    I've not yet used this pad, and it's out in the tack shed somewhere. I'm in my jammies and it's COLD outside, otherwise I'd rush out and find it). Anyway, I'll find it tomorrow and let you know which one it is.

    LOVE that mare and foal, btw. Love dapples, too.

  4. L O L. Low-withered, young horses with big, floaty trots and rolling canters never seem to keep saddles in anywhere but the wrong place! Our Morgan and Arab owner friends have it BAD. We should all send them sympathy cards.

    When my mutton-withered, extra-wide-backed Friesian sport gelding was four, I would often find myself riding his side after a rolling canter. I had to get a "Y" girth and a rubber pad, EVEN THOUGH his saddle was fitted by THREE pro saddle fitters in agreement!! Haha.

    Now that he is twelve, I no longer need these things as his topline is developed and muscled well. You wait. In a few years, Riley will look so good you won't even recognize him. And, those saddles won't slip nearly as much because he will be able to collect and balance himself better in all gaits. You won't find yourself working as hard. ;)

  5. It's funny I've noticed Chrome's withers changing a lot as he grows. When he was younger he had no wither at all, now he's starting to develop one, but he's so butt high it looks awful lol.

    FriesianWelshX I wish you had a blog full of pictures of your horse. :D


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