My name is Lesley McGill, and I am The Saddle Doctor, a Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Saddle Fitter. I saddle fit all over BC, Vancouver Island, and Alberta in my fully equipped cube van. Working with everyone from beginners all the way up to the Olympic-level riders, I help to maximise the comfort and performance of horses and their riders. I also work with the Para Equestrian Dressage riders based in BC.
The majority of my clients are dressage horse and riders; however, I do work with hunters, jumpers, endurance, pleasure , eventers and pony clubbers. I can assist in fitting Western saddles as well.
Please give me a call at 778-240-9072 or complete the online form to start a discussion about you and your horse’s needs.
The Saddle Fitting Process
There are three elements to saddle fitting: horse, rider and saddle.
The saddle will always be the compromise. It’s sandwiched between two moving bodies, neither of which is ever perfectly symmetrical or stable. There will always be “pressure” and “pressure points” from the saddle onto your horse’s back. This is the result of your weight, and the saddle’s fit. The saddle’s job is to disperse your weight as evenly as possible over the largest surface area. If your saddle does not fit, has panels that are hard and lumpy, is over round, has a channel too narrow or a gullet to tight, or is unbalanced, it could be causing numerous behavioral and movement issues for your horse or great difficulty with your position.
When I’m working on your saddle, I truly have you and your horse’s best interest in mind. It’s my job to help guide you into making the right choice for your horse with regards to its saddle fit. Ideally, your trainer will be involved in the fitting if you are purchasing a new saddle, as they know you better than I do.
I will look at every scenario to making your saddle work better. Saddle design has come a long way over the years. Today’s saddles take into account every kind of horse out there, from pleasure horse to top-level performance horsesand everything in between. This is why there are so many brands and styles of saddle today. Your 30-year-old saddle may not be doing you or your horse any favours.
Accreditation and Product Affiliations
- Society of Master Saddlers
- Dressage Sport Boots
- Back on Track Canada
- Soon to be accredited by the National Saddle Centre of North America
Saddle fitting is a constantly evolving art and science. I regularly travel to the UK, Europe, Eastern Canada and the US to work with other experts, including saddlers, saddle fitters, saddle-makers, vets, horse body workers, horse trainers, and any other relevant horse experts that I can learn from. I regularly attend conferences on horse science subjects to keep up to date on all things horse – because I never know what I’ll find at a saddle fitting. I’ve also taken many courses on horse massage, facia manipulation, and body work to be able to identify and understand what I see and feel on the horses I am working with.
Identifying Saddle Problems
There are a wide range of signs that may indicate an issue with your saddle. Here are some things to watch for:
- Horse standing
- Horse’s body language while tacking up (ears pinned, tail swishing, moves away from saddle)
- Rubs or white hair on saddle-bearing areas
- Muscle atrophy behind shoulders or along the spine
- Overdeveloped muscles in the shoulders
- Swollen areas on spine after riding
- Won’t stand while being mounted
- Horse while riding
- Drags his back toes
- Moves in a straight line or “crab”
- Unhappy while posting on a specific diagonal
- Only happy going in one direction
- Jumps, resists or falters going into transitions
- Sounds very heavy-footed, “stomping” while being ridden
- Won’t stand in a halt
- Rushes to his fences or away from them, or bucks
- Drops his head down or sticks it way up when landing a fence
- Feels “free” with his front legs, shuffles along or stumbles
- Uses his back; can he round his back and carry your weight?
- Very resistant and getting progressively worse during a ride
- Slow to warm up
- Bucks or rears under saddle suddenly
- Pins his ears or swishes his tail during a ride for no obvious reason
- While riding do you
- Hear the same comments from your instructor time and time again
- Struggle or fight to stay in position
- Struggle to keep your lower leg forward or back
- Get “rubs”
- Get lower back or pelvis pain
- Struggle to keep a straight back (are you hollow or round)
- Constantly have to get off and move saddle forward or back
If you are seeing any of these issues, please contact The Saddle Doctor today at 778-240-9072 or complete our online form.