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Horse Articles :: Fitting a Barrel Racing Saddle


Fitting a Barrel Racing Saddle

If you are going to take part in barrel racing it is crucial that the saddle you use fits correctly. A fancy saddle is not neccessary but a well fitting saddle is and could make the difference between winning and losing the race. Saddle selection is critical and includes consideration of the fit of the saddle for both horse and rider, the correct type of saddle and of course a price within your range. Do not be tempted to go for a cheap saddle. A good saddle will last for many years and is a good investment so don't skimp now as you will surely regret it later.

Fitting the Saddle to the Horse

The fit of the saddle for the horse is perhaps the most important consideration. The fit must be good enough to prevent pressure points on the horse as these will cause pain and interfere with his free movement. The bars of the tree can interfere with movement if the saddle is not correctly fitted. There is a misconception that barrel saddles without bars can be fitted to any horse but this is untrue. An ill fitting saddle, even without bars can cause pain to the horse and also interfere with his normal movement is it sits too far back on the horse. It is essential then to ensure that the saddle fits correctly or behavioral and performance problems will always arise.

These are the points to consider when fitting the saddle. Ride the horse for a short time then inspect the area beneath the saddle. If there are dry areas this could indicate pressure points. If the saddle is ill fitting there may be circles of dryness on both sides although the rest of the back is wet from sweating.The saddle is pressing down in these dry areas and will lead to pressure points where the skin is damaged and sore.This problem will not be relieved by the use of more padding and means that the saddle does not fit correctly and should not be used.

Fitting the Saddle to the Rider

When choosing a new barrel saddle it is equally important to make sure it fits the rider as well as the horse. Different sizes and styles of saddle fit differently and may not suit all riders. If the saddle is ill fitting to the rider it will be uncomfortable and make it hard to keep balanced. In general barrel saddles have high cantles in the back and the leather of the jockeys and fenders is often rough to help in keeping the seat. The horn tends to be taller to improve the grip during rough maneuvers and the stirrups are often made to give a better angle to help the feet stay in place.

Purchasing a Barrel Saddle

There are some dealers who will let you test out the saddle for a short time before purchase so that you can be sure of a good fit. If the fit is not good you can either return the saddle for your money back or try a replacement. As barrel saddles, and indeed all saddles, are expensive it is vital that you purchase one that not only fits both horse and rider but is made of good quality materials to ensure it lasts well.

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