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By: Galadriel Billington

6:47PM May 31, 2004

How much pressure is on your horse's back?
First determine the weight on your horse's back,
and the surface area on your saddle.

Remember that if the saddle fits badly,
the surface touching the horse may be much smaller;
you may lose 1/4, 1/2, or even 3/4 of the surface area.

For more on saddle fitting, see Saddle Fitting.
For more on weight bearing and weight distribution, see Weight.
pressure horse diagram in color
Measuring weight should be self-explanatory...

Weight of the rider (in pounds)
Weight of saddle (in pounds)
Minimum surface area required (in square inches)
At this surface area, the pressure on the horse is
2 pounds per square inch.

length Surface Area
Measure the underside of your saddle to get the length & width.
  • To get the length, measure from the front of the panel/bar to the back of the panel. Measure from the surface, where it touches the horse.
  • To get the width, measure at the front, back, and at the center. Make sure you measure from the edge that touches the horse, not the whole panel. Take the average of the three: for example, if the front is 5", the center is 3", and the back is 4", then use 4".
Length of panels or bars (in inches)
Width of one panel or bar (in inches)
Maximum weight of rider and saddle (in pounds)
At this weight, the pressure on the horse is
2 pounds per square inch.
Surface area of this saddle (square inches)

Using your weight and the surface area of your saddle,
you can find the pressure on your horse's back.

The less pressure per square inch, the nicer it feels to the horse.

Hopefully this number will be less than 2 pounds per square inch
--but the smaller it is, the better.
Weight of rider (in pounds)
Weight of saddle (in pounds)
Surface area of saddle (in square inches)
Pressure on horse (in pounds per square inch)

Play around with Numbers
Look at some typical saddles:
Saddle Type Length of Panels
Width of Panels
18" Dressage 17.5 3.5
18" All Purpose 17 3
18" Close Contact 16.5 3
16" Dressage 15.5 3
16" All Purpose 15 2.5
16" Close Contact 15 2.5
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2004 Galadriel Billington. All rights reserved.