Fit is Everything - Infinitely Adjustable for Optimal Comfort & Performance!

Tip 2: Wither Clearance

Is your horse reluctant to move forward? Are mysterious white hairs, strange bumps or soars appearing around the wither?

Although you may have the required 2-3 fingers wither clearance, you may not have enough clearance on all sides, which is vital! Watch this informative video for some saddle fit tips on “Wither Clearance” that may help you!

Wither clearance is an often misunderstood concept

All of us are concerned that our saddles have adequate wither clearance and do not pinch our horse’s withers. But few of us truly understand exactly what “wither clearance” means.

Many of us learned in Pony Club that our saddle should have 2-3 fingers clearance on the top of the withers. But we were never taught that there also had to be clearance on the sides of the withers. One of the reasons this is crucial is because when the horse moves, his shoulder blades rotate upwards and backwards. The saddle must have an opening (clearance) on the sides of his withers to accommodate the shoulder rotation.

To see just how much your own horse’s shoulder blade rotates backwards when he moves, stand on the side of your horse and mark the shoulder blade with a piece of chalk. Then have a friend stretch your horse’s front leg forward and mark the new position of the shoulder blade. You will see how much farther back the shoulder blade is now positioned.

Ideally, we should be able to get 2-3 fingers clearance on both the top and the sides of the withers. To determine adequate clearance on the sides of the withers, we measure from the point just above where the stuffing of the saddle starts. On a mutton-withered horse, however, we may get as much as 4-5 fingers clearance.

If there is no clearance (or space) on the side of the withers, the horse’s movement will be restricted. It will be impossible for him to have free range of movement through his shoulders.

A horse whose saddle pinches his withers may be reluctant to go forward. Other more extreme signs of insufficient wither clearance are patches of white hairs (not scattered individual white hairs) or sores on the top or on one or both sides of the withers.


Is this a challenge you are facing? Are you experiencing other saddle fit issues? Tell us about them and let us help!

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People often complain when unhappy but don't take the time to share gratitude. Today was my first ride in my new Obrigado! Luanne Reaume has been fantastic. She got the measurements just right for me and my PRE stallion. It was a joy finally getting a custom saddle for me and my horse. And tada, I was immediately sitting perfectly and so comfortable to walk, trot, canter and piaffe! And my horse was happy too. I cannot wait to get back in this saddle. Your saddle manufacturers did a great job. The quality is beautiful. I have ridden in many different dressage saddles. This is the most comfortable and well balanced. It puts you in the exact right place right behind the withers! I wanted you to know what a pleasure it was to work with Luanne. She is a treasure to your company and we customers.  

— PK Harrison, Boon, MI

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