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How to Measure

Howto Measure for a Western Saddle


We know you all have been asking and we have finally figured outhow to upload How to Measure Insturctions to YouTube! (We're saddlefitters,

not computer gurus) Here are 3 quick videos that takes youthrough the same process outlined below!

How to Measure Your Horse or Mule for a Saddle Fit Before You Buy

Then Buy a Saddle That Fits!

Properly fitting saddles is Crest Ridge Saddlery’s firstobjective!

Crest Ridge Saddlery offers saddles a bit differently thanother companies. We are not here just to sell you a saddle. We want you to havea saddle that is correct for your horse and comfortable for you. We want you totell your friends “this one fits!”

We can accomplish this with you by having correct measurementsand good photos of your horse. These allow us to determine the saddle treewithin our saddle lines that best accommodates the horse’s shape and size. Wecan get these measurements by your visiting us with your horse or mule in LowryCity, Missouri, at one of the shows we attend, or by your taking the requiredmeasurements and sending them to us.

Our saddle fitting system works equally well for stock horses,gaited horses, draft horses, mules and even zorses. We understand thedifferences between the breeds and know how to build a saddle that is perfectfor your horse, regardless of breed.

Saddle fitting is easy with our system

We have developed a simple process which will provide us theinformation we need to recommend the proper tree to best fit your horse ormule.

Step 1: Build the saddlefitting measuring tool.

Cut a sixteen inch piece of stiff wire thatcan be easily molded to fit your horse’s shape and retain that shape whenremoved from the horse. Coated wires such as ROMEX or soldering wire work well.Mark the middle of the wire at the 8 inch point with a marker.

Step 2: Mold the saddle fitting measuring toolto your horse or mule.

Stand your horse square on a level surface.With gentle pressure locate the back edge of the shoulder blade (scapula) withone or 2 fingers and keep them there. With your other hand place your measuringtool over the withers. Place the marked center point directly above thewithers, with eight inches of wire to each side, and directly over where yourfingers are marking the back edge of the scapula. Mold and press the wire downso that it makes a perfect outline of your horse's wither. It must make contactwith the horse’s skin on both sides immediately behind the shoulder blade.

Free movement of the scapula isessential for a properly fitting gaited horse saddle

Step 3: Measuring your horse ormule

Carefully remove the measuringtool from your horse or mule so that theshape of the animal is maintained by the tool. Lay the diagram on a sheet ofpaper and trace the wire as shown to the right. We use the measurementsindicated by the two dashed lines. From the center of the wire measure straightdown 3 inches and then side to side. This gives you the gullet measurement.Then measure from wire end to wire end straight across and this gives you thebar width through the shoulder. Record these 2 measurements, as we will needthem to determine the required flare, bar angle, bar width and swell heightneeded for a proper fitting tree for your horse or mule.

The Importance of Accurate Photos andTemplates

Step 4: Photograph your horse or mule

Photos that you send help us evaluate what barshape, rock, as well as the angle needed to build the properly fitted tree. Itis vital that you send photos from the correct angles requested. Thehorse must be standing square on all 4 feet and his head straight and notlowered or in the grazing position.

With your animal standing square on level ground, take threephotographs as shown below. It is not necessary for your measuring tool to beon your animal for these pictures—it is challenging enough to get your horse tostand square and still without having to worry about a piece of wire staying inplace. These pictures help us determine the appropriate rocker for your animaland to spot potential fitting issues, such as a prominent spine. Please do yourbest to replicate these photos.

Please do not send morephotos than what we ask for. While we appreciate the albums of photos that weoften receive, it is very difficult and time consuming to flip throughduplicate images and odd angles. If we require additional photos, we willrequest them.

Step 5: Determine your seat size

Seat size is an important aspect of saddlefit. Many people know what size seat they are comfortable in, but hereare some guidelines in determining seat size. You should be able to layyour hand flat behind the swell (pommel), with your hand touching the swell andalmost touching your pants. Your legs should have two inches of clearancefrom the swell as they are hanging down.

The rider's position in the saddle greatly influences how wella saddle fits. A rider in a saddle with too large of a seat cannot help butslide back and forth in the seat. Over time this will cause the saddle to moveout of its proper position. If the rider slides to far back, the saddle willlift up in front transferring all of the weight to the rear of the saddle,potentially causing pressure points. If the rider is pushed too far forward,all of the riders weight is transferred to the shoulders.

Step 6: Send us yourinformation.

Send us the photographs and the tracing of thewire along with the measurements from Step 3. You can send it in bye-mail, text, or regular mail. We’ll have enough information to help recommendan appropriate tree for your horse or mule.

Optional: Build a Back Map

For difficult to fit horses or to build acomprehensive fitting aid for yourself, go to our "How to Build a Back Map" page which expands upon the one wire systemdetailed above. We occasionally have asked customers to build a back mapfor us and decided to share the more comprehensive instructions with all of ourcustomers.