If you’ve had months out of the saddle, use our pro tips to help ensure you and your horse are comfortable for the miles ahead.
Start with a Clean Saddle Pad
Keep your horse’s back clean-dirt is abrasive. Your horse’s back should be cleaned, brushed, vacuumed or washed before and after riding to remove sweat and dirt.
If the pad needs a cleaning, loosen matted areas with a curry comb and brush or vacuum, do not use soap – it may never come out and could irritate your horse’s skin.
Ride with the Correct Fender Length
Fender length/position is very much personal preference, but most western disciplines will look for a long, relaxed leg with a gentle bend in the knee.
Make sure your fenders are even on both sides. Get a friend to stand in front or in back (at a safe distance) to help you evaluate the length if you feel off or pulled to one side.
Ride Centered and Balanced
For the tree to function properly, you must sit balanced in the saddle. If you are sitting in the saddle like a recliner with your legs out in front, you are exerting twice as much force on the back of the bars and digging the bars into the horse’s loins.
The rider must sit in a balanced position, vertically with your legs under you – this will allow the bars of the tree to function properly, spreading pressure equally front to back.
⚠️ Rider example of how NOT to sit in the saddle! 😭😩
Ease Tender Parts
The contoured seat in the Horizon Series provides a close contact riding experience while reducing impact.
The sculpted cushion design features an ergonomic relief channel that helps eliminate pressure points in tender areas which means a more comfortable ride.
A Tucker means comfort – right down to your toes.
Our ErgoBalance™ stirrups add even more comfort to your ride and keep you in the saddle longer. It’s because of the angled cone which helps decrease knee and ankle fatigue plus it helps keep you balanced. Enjoy decreased joint fatigue in almost every stirrup design.
Check the Saddle Fit
The goal in saddle fitting is to have the greatest amount of contact between the bar of the tree and the horse. As your horse ages, his shape will change; a 2-year-old’s back isn’t the same as when he is 8 or 18.
If your horse is built downhill, swayback, has a very narrow wither, or has hollows behind his shoulders, a corrective pad will fix these common conformation issues.
Condition Your Trail Horse Gradually
Take it slow. Horses get sore muscles when they are not in shape. Long trail rides, once a month barrel races, or competitions when a horse is not in the proper condition will make a horse’s back sore.
When you apply pressure to an unconditioned horse’s back you will get swelling which accentuates or creates saddle fit issues. If you feel heat or swelling after long or strenuous use of your horse, let his back rest and heal.
Gradually build your horse’s endurance by slowly increasing riding time, pace, and terrain.
Don’t Cut Your Horse in Half with the Cinch
Do not over tighten the cinch! The tighter you make the cinch the more pressure you create before you even sit in the saddle. The front cinch should be about as tight as your belt – if it’s comfortable for you it should be comfortable for your horse.
If you use a synthetic cinch, we recommend you use leather latigos to allow your horse room for lung expansion.
Implement these tips but ride with caution. Excess comfort and riding enjoyment may lead to prolonged time in the saddle and result in a messy house, undone chores, and uncooked supper. Happy trails!