Step 1: Taking a Wither Tracing
One of the first steps in your saddle search should be a proper tracing of your horse's back. An accurate wither tracing creates a template of your horse's back that you can use when looking for saddles. This will serve as your road map when trying out saddles and will help narrow your search to saddles that are likely candidates to fit your horse.
If you are shopping with us from out of state, its extremely helpful to send us tracings so that we can get a good idea if a saddle will fit before shipping it out.
To take a wither tracing you will need a flexible wither curve (a wire coat hanger also works well!), a pen, and a large, sturdy piece of paper (we recommend a manilla folder).
You will need to take measurements at 3 different points along the horse's back. Line "A" is 2-3 inches behind the shoulder blade, Line "B" is at the horse's last thoracic vertebra, and Line "C" is along the spine from A to B.
First, ensure that your horse is standing square, and that their head is in a natural, forward position. It is often useful to have a helper to keep your horse standing squarely with a neutral head and neck throughout your tracing process.
Fold your tracing curve in half, then lay it 2"-3" behind the horse's scapula (shoulder blade) so that it is sitting perpendicular to the ground
Fold the fitting curve in half
The first line should be 2-3" behind the point of the shoulder blade
Gently form the curve flush against the back
Ensure that the curve is 3 fingers behind the point of the shoulder
Remove the curve and lay it against your manilla folder. Take care not to warp the shape while moving the curve.
Trace your pen along the lower side of the curve to best represent the actual shape of the back
Label this line "A"
Find the point of your horse's last rib (generally near the top of the flank) and trace along it upward and forward to the last thoracic vertebra. This will be the location of you second tracing.
In this image: Line A, Line B, and the Point of the Rib for reference
Lay your tracing curve along the back at the last thoracic vertebra
The tracing curve should be perpendicular to the ground
Lay this second measurement against the same manilla folder
Don't worry about your line's overlapping - just ensure that they are labeled!
Trace under the curve, and label this line "B"
The third line needed is a profile of the horse's spine from the first line "A" to the second line "B"
Make sure the curve runs down the center of the spine between the first two points
Lay this third measurement on the same manilla folder
Label this line "C" and mark "nose" and "tail"
Label the folder with your name, your horse's name, and the date that the tracings were taken.
Congratulations! You have a completed set of tracings, and an excellent tool for use during your saddle search.
In conjunction with good tracings, it is always helpful to have correct conformation pictures of your horse. Have your horse standing squarely with a level head (it helps to have someone else hold them!) and take 3 different pictures.
1. Image of the left side of the horse
2. Image of the right side of the horse
3. Image of the horse's back from directly behind - it often helps to stand on a stool behind your horse so that the picture is directly along their spine. Be safe! Taking the perfect back picture is not worth getting kicked.
The horse should be standing square with their spine as straight as possible. Their neck should be in a forward, neutral position.