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This is a surprisingly overlooked area. It is amazing to find out how many saddles are broken or in need of repair without the owner knowing and this applies not just to amateurs. If you are riding regularly you should check your saddle regularly too:
- Does it fit properly? If you don't know to do this get a professional saddle maker to come and check for you. If you ride the horse without a numnah for a while you will see from the sweat marks on his back where the pressure points are. These should lie evenly along the whole length of the saddle.
- Is it broken or in need of repair e.g. does it need restuffing? Particularly when the saddle is new the stuffing "settles" and needs bulking. Again, speak to your saddle-maker to get this done. Re-stuffing is a 15 minute job usually.
- Does the horse flinch or bite when you girth up? If so it is in pain and the pain needs fixing. Putting a pressure pad on is not the answer! This reaction is caused by deep muscular pain and needs sorting out.
Make sure you check all your other equipment that it is in good working order e.g. that no stitching is coming loose, that the stirrup leathers are the same length and that the bit fits to name a few items. Also, a faulty stirrup breaking at the wrong time could be very serious indeed.
Remember also that your horse is growing and changing all the time particularly as it matures but even in training. Be aware of this at the very least.