SADDLE FITTING INSTRUCTIONS
Getting the right fit for your horse
Kuda Flex Saddles are available in 5 gullet widths and 2 tree designs.
6.0" and 6.5" width gullets will generally fit Thoroughbred's, Stock Horses, some Arab derivatives, Riding Ponies, and Gaited horses.
The 7.0" to 8.0" gullets will be a better choice for Clydie crosses, Quarter Horses, and Draft crosses. However, this is also a good width for horses that measure narrower (say 6.5") and are still in the process of 'muscling-up' or are needing to muscle-up.
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list of horse breeds however the breeds listed will give you an idea of 'type' and general back conformation usually specific to the breeds listed. We also acknowledge that not all horses of the same breed have the same back conformation.
Some horses may only measure 4 or 5 inches on their Wither Tracing. This is quite normal for a horse with a prominent wither. The 6.0"-6.5" Gullet will still work wonderfully well with a 3/4" to a 1" Felt or a Shim-able Saddle Pad.
The entire range of Kuda Saddles are short front to back therefore they make an excellent choice for short backed breeds such as Arab's and Brumbies.
In moderate cases of muscle atrophy, use of a shim-able saddle pad with good quality inserts and cleverly placed tapered shims, can aid saddle fit until the horse has been re-conditioned and the top-line has been restored from correct riding/ground work and a proper fitting saddle. We can most certainly guide you here. Shimming is also recommended in instances where the horse requires additional shoulder clearance due to conformation issues, or is built 'downhill'. A shoulder shim will balance the saddle for the rider which is absolutely essential when riding horses that are naturally built downhill. More information on shimming further down this page.
There are 2 flex tree models to choose from: The D Fit which is the Quarter Horse fit, and the LT fit which is the Gaited Horse fit. Now we dont have that many gaited horses here in Australia (though these numbers are growing) but I have found that this fit is particularly good for older horses or horses that have more curve to their back. See further descriptions below.
Please note: both tree types are suitable for short backed horses, as they are made specifically for Kuda Flex Saddles which are made specifically for short backed horses.
Quarter Horse Fit
D - Approximate 92 degree front rafter angle. Good front flare, bow and upturned tails to avoid bridging and bar edge pressure points.
Gaited Horse Fit
Steeper rear rafter angle, additional front flare and more bow relative to the 'D' fit.
(Generally a longer wait time applies for this tree style).
The photos above show the shells belonging to the 'Fit to be Seen' Equi-Fit Saddle Tree Fit Kit. These are light weight replica's of the Equi-Fit Flexible trees available in the Kuda Flex Saddle range that you can try on your horse prior to ordering your new Kuda Flex Saddle. They are set at 6.5" gullet width so they will not tell you what gullet width your horse requires, but they will tell you which bar shape is most suited to your horses back shape.
All of the gullet widths listed are available in both styles of flex trees. Please note that longer wait times apply if Kuda do not have the tree style that you need in the model, seat size and gullet width required. There are so many possible combinations that it is impossible for Kuda to have every single tree, ready to go. If the tree needs to be special ordered from Equi-Fit, then additional wait times will apply.
Shimming for Muscle Atrophy
I often come across horses that have muscle atrophy in behind the shoulder blade, just below the withers. It is a very common issue unfortunately. There are a couple of different causes, but mostly it is related to tight fitting saddles.
Because there is a distinct lack of muscle behind the shoulder blade (Scapular), a 'dip' or 'pocket' forms which causes the front of the saddle to fall downwards into this pocket, This then forces the front of the saddle down onto the back edge of the shoulder blade, which then jambs the shoulder blade with every step the horse takes. Not only does this prevent freedom of movement for the horse, this pinching can also cause long term damage to the cartilage of the shoulder blade.
Shims are a fabulous way to make your horse more comfortable, immediately! The shim essentially acts like the muscle that should be there, by effectively filling in the hollow or 'wither pocket'. The shim lifts the front of the saddle ever so slightly which then allows the shoulder blade to pass freely underneath the saddle.
Once you have a well fitted Kuda Flex saddle, and with good and proper riding, the muscle will re-build and the need for shims will be lessened. Some horses however, may always require a shim if they are not ridden regularly and/or correctly.
It is very important to only ever use a shim that has a tapered edge (under the seat of the saddle) so as not to create a line of pressure. It is also extremely important that the front of the saddle not be lifted so much that the rear of the saddle is tipped downwards into the horses sensitive loin region.
Shims are also a great way to balance the saddle for the rider when the horse they are riding is built somewhat downhill. A strategically placed tapered edge shim will lift the saddle at the front, ever so slightly, which then balances the active part of the seat of the saddle to a horizontal level. This then allows the rider to find a well balanced position in the saddle. Shims can really be quite an amazing tool when used correctly. It is however important to note that shims will not correct the fit of a badly fitting saddle.
How to measure your horses 'saddle support area'
Find the back edge of your horses shoulder blade (scapular), this is the point to measure from. We need to determine the distance between the back edge of the scapular to the horses last rib. Saddles cannot bear weight beyond these two points. Find your horses last rib, see picture below which is helpful. If you're not able to feel the last rib, look to where the horses coat converges together, a couple of inches in front of the hip. Then follow this in a curved line up (see blue arrow below) to the horses spine. Then drop your finger straight down till you're about 4-5 inches below the spine - this is the point to measure to, from the back edge of scapular. The distance between these two points gives you your horses saddle support area. It may be shorter than you thought.