Saddle fitting doesn’t have to be a controversial subject with horse owners. It can be exciting order a custom saddle or having a large selection of used saddles at the tack shop to choose from.
However, function and fit on the horse are more important considerations than eye appeal. The breed of the horse can play a huge role in saddle fit. Thoroughbreds or quarter horses with strong thoroughbred lines can have high withers and clearance of the gullet area then becomes a large consideration. The slope of the shoulder is another point where saddle fit can go wrong. Too much pressure can impede forward movement.
Putting a saddle on the horse and sliding it from the withers to the back and letting it come into it’s natural resting place will tell you a lot about the fit. Try rocking it from cantle to horn. Is there a lot of forward and backward movement? Try rocking it from side to side? Is it so loose that it would slide right off? Run your hands under the fenders, rigging, and skirting to feel the contact of the bars with the horse. Are there some areas that are tight against your hand or very loose? You want to feel even consistent pressure and you want the saddle to stay in place fairly well on a side-to-side rock.
Any problems you see and feel without the saddle pad will only be magnified once the rider is on board. A few problems such as a snug fit at the shoulders can be improved with a little extra padding. Skirting that extends too far behind the cantle on a short-backed horse can lead to problems down the road with back pain. Taking the time to check your saddle fit and make adjustments can lead to happier rides for both you and your horse.