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Horses/English saddle fitting


My horse occasionally kicks while I ride him, and I'm wondering if it's because his saddle doesn't fit him. I have heard that you should have at least 2-3 fingers that fit between the saddle and the withers. I am able to fit 4 fingers between that area, with the saddle pad and girth tightened. If his kicking is because the saddle doesn't fit him, will I need to get a new saddle or is there something I can buy to make the saddle less narrow?

Hello Mikayla,

Usually when a saddle is causing discomfort the horse will buck rather than kick.  Although it is possible that the saddle is hurting him somewhere, I would say to look elsewhere. Here are many joints that may be causing pain in the rear: stifle, hock and fetlock joint.  He also may be footsore...a shoe may be pinching.  He may have a pinched vertebre.

I would have your vet give him a very good check up and you might want to consult an equine masseuse. They are able to find pinched nerves wherever they are.

Check these issues:  Does you horse have a wide back with low withers, or a narrow back with high withers.  4 fingers is a lot of room and it suggests that the saddle may not be wide enough for him.  There are many saddle fitting experts who can tell if the saddle is right for him or not.

I hope you can find the problem. Sometimes these issues are difficult to diagnose and need several approaches.  Get the vet first and then do what he suggests.

Thanks for your question,


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Dorothy K Morris


I now live in Tucson, AZ. My expertise is in training and rehabilitating horses, and training riders for combined training for over 40 years, in Virginia and California. This includes dressage, cross country obstacles and show jumping. In my many years of experience and endless study of Classical theory, and my hands-on retraining horses,I have accummulated much knowledge of the different personalities of horses and how to approach their rehabilitation. At my age, I do not ride as much as I used to, but I don't see why I have to waste the experience I have. I can answer certain questions about starting young horses in English riding: dressage, jumping, cross country obstacles and basic equitation. I can help with rehabilitation of spoiled or difficult horses; however, many problems require sustained riding instruction/training and I cannot do this online. Some issues need to be observed to come to a correct diagnosis. If your problem is of this type, please find a qualified instructor/trainer. I cannot give riding lessons via email.


Experience in the area: Over 40 years of English riding experience, including Fox Hunting in Virginia where I earned my colors with the Blue Ridge Hunt, training young horses for hunting and/or eventing. Coached a rider from her beginning at Training Level Combined tests through her competition at two Junior International competition Three Day Events. She rode my horse that I also started and trained her to ride. This combination competed in the World Championship Three Day in Lexington, KY in 1978. I trained another horse (TB) through 3rd Level Dressage and jumping. He eventually competed at Advanced level Three Day. I have reschooled several horses with difficulties ranging from running away to running backward, to not allowing a bridle to be put on, to kicking out at the farrier, being "too much on the muscle over jumps", barn sour, etc

National Society Daughters of the Revolution (DAR)

Six novels (I am also a novelist)

Some college. Endless study of Classical Theory and training methods.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who of American Women, Who'w Who in America, Past Board of Directors FDIC-NACM

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