Elective: Saddle Fit

Students must be registered for the Summit before signing up for electives.

This elective costs $60 per student and is limited to the first 50 registrants.



Saddle Fit for All Disciplines

Friday morning, October 21, 2022. Approximately 9am to noon.


Saddle fit experts from California and Wyoming will guide this interactive workshop. We are happy to say that no particular saddle company is affiliated with this workshop. No selly-sell!


Ron Ostrom and Kristen Vlietstra will present an academic slideshow, followed by discussion and saddle fit demonstrations with several differently-shaped horses whose riders come from different disciplines.


Ron Ostrom

Topics covered:

Tree angles and width:  
In many saddles, the width between the top points of the tree is too narrow while the angle of the tree is too wide which leads to the saddle hanging on the withers rather than lying along the top of the rib cage.  In English saddle fitting, this angle/width imbalance is the number one cause of “girthiness/cinchiness” during saddling.
Also, often with Western saddle fit, the angle of the bars is not wide enough, causing the lower bar to dig into the horse and make the saddle sit high on the animal’s back. This creates pain as white marks or sores will reveal themselves. Flare in front or back of the bars along with rocking and twisting are additional concerns and may result in the rider over-tightening the girth or over-padding.

Shoulder Asymmetry:
Horses are asymmetric! Students will learn how it affects saddle fit by examining different horses with and without saddles and riders. Discussion to include breeds and back types, in-shape, and fat-backed animals. Also considered: how the back changes at different times and with exercise. Students will watch horses move their shoulders with and without the saddle tree.

Kristen Vlietstra

Back build:
Bridging and rocking in saddles can impact our horses’ way of going. Bar shape and design are critical for shoulder relief and to avoid spine pinch. We will examine where the saddle places the weight of the rider on the horse as well the results of pounds per square inch.

Also to be considered: spine width, back length, billet placement, shoulder slope, pasture and hoof angle, shoulder placement, breast collars, cruppers, britchins, pads and seat design.

Horsing around time

We will benefit from six different horses with six different English/Western saddles available.  Students will break into groups and have opportunities to evaluate saddles and fit, based on what they have learned in the workshop.

Lots of one-on-one time!

Questions, Answers, Feedback
At the end of the session, there will be ample time to ask questions and clarify points learned.


Showing 4 comments
  • April Ibarra

    Can’t wait to take it! Sign me up! I’m so worried I won’t get in int time! Why would anyone not want take this class? LOL

    • Maddy Butcher

      We agree! Thanks for your enthusiasm, April!

  • Shelley Causey

    Would like to sign up

    • Maddy Butcher

      Great! Please click on the payment link and be sure to sign up for the Summit, too. All elective attendees must be registered for the Summit.

      Thanks and see you in October!

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