Why is saddle (or tack or blanket) fit important?

Riding a horse in a poorly fitting saddle is like putting on shoes that don’t fit, and then going running for an hour or so.  Pressure points can cause a horse significant discomfort during riding, which can lead to poor performance, behavior issues, muscle soreness and back misalignment.  Saddles can be poorly fitting in many different ways.  They can be too narrow, causing pinching at the withers.  They can be too wide, resulting in weight being put directly on the spine.  Tipping forward or back can result in uneven pressure even with the most balanced rider.  A properly balanced saddle can be a tremendous help to your horse’s comfort and performance, as well as your own. 

The saddle isn’t the only thing that can cause pain or discomfort if improperly fitted.  The bit can be too small or large, or fastened too high or low in the horse’s mouth.  This can cause significant communication problems between horse and rider.  An improperly fitted breastplate can constrict the chest or cause the saddle to be pulled too far forward.

Blankets which do not fit properly can not only be uncomfortable, they can be unsafe.  Horses spend many hours a day in a blanket without supervision.  A low hanging strap, or a loose, shifting blanket can cause a horse to become hung-up.  A trapped horse will often panic, causing damage to himself and likely his enclosure.