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!

Contact miriam@schleese.com or solutions@schleese.com, book a Personal Saddle Fit Evaluation, or attend an educational lecture/demo.

Find an event near you

Rider
Testimonials

Dear Jochen, July 4th marked the end of the trial period for Anne Lynn's new saddle, & I feel compelled to tell you that it was well worth the 4 month wait!! I've always been aware that proper saddle fit is extremely important, but my sensitive little mare seemed like an exception. As you know, I had her back x-rayed, & to my relief, her back is fine! I even put her on Regu-Mate, thinking the temperamental problems may have been due to hormone pain! You proved to me that the minor saddle fitting issues I was having with her, were enough to cause her some major discomfort, & thus make her virtually unridable! From the first day u fitted her with her new saddle to the present, she has been a new horse! Each day brings marked improvement, & more importantly, she's being compliant & happily doing as she's asked! I'm also happy to report that my vet, trainer, & masseuse have all noticed a physical change in her for the better! She's developing new muscle through her neck, back, & hind quarter, & NO SORENESS as before! Yesterday, July 18th, marked her 6th birthday, & what a happy & hopeful one it was! There's a long road ahead of us, but I can now say that there's a bright future for us to grow together as trusting dressage partners. Thank you so much for all you've done, & for sharing your years of knowledge & research! You've certainly made me a believer in you & your product!

— Liz Meigs - Wellington, FL

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories

Meta