The most important step in measuring your horse for accurate fit is to have the horse standing square. The horse needs to be putting pressure on all four feet with its head in a natural straight forward position. If the horse is not straight, as in looking to one side or the other or having a leg resting, just square them up and start again. Here is good example of the horse standing fairly square but her head is turned slightly to one side.
The old saying a picture is worth a thousand words is worth its weight in gold. We like to have pictures of the horse standing square when you are taking the measurements. The ones we like are.
1. standing square from the side.
2. at an angle looking across the shoulder to the hip
3. at an angle looking across the hip to the shoulder and wither.
4. from the back looking down over the back to the neck.
Make 4 lines across the horse with chalk or tape to mark the locations of where to take the measurements, we will call these A, A1, B, and C. We also like to take a measurement from the point of line A to the point of the hip, we call this line AH and another along the spine called T. Also one last measurement will be taken for the “rock” called RL and RR which is the line that the bar lays on the horses Back.
1. Line A should be taken just behind the scapula or shoulder blade. Take your hand and press slightly to find the edge of the scapula bone the first line will just slightly behind this bone, this is also where the front tip of the bar will sit. Do not measure over the top of this point as that will give a false reading. Line A1 will be measured about 3-4” behind line A. Line B should be place at the lowest point of the horses back and line C should be placed about 8” behind line B.
2. We like to use the Dennis Lane Card system over using a stiff wire or romex house wiring cable. If that is not possible than any really stiff malleable wire will work, a coat hanger will work but it is a little springy and tends to not be really accurate. If you use a coat hanger just take a number of measurements to double check. Take the measurements at A, A1, B and C and transfer those measurements to a large sheet of paper or cardboard. Measure twice cut once the old adage, its important that the measurements be transferred accurately, so double check. It is also helpful to make a cardboard template and use that as it is fairly rigid and will give you a really accurate measurement. I use these measurements to determine bar spread at the fork and also the amount of twist that will be needed.
A – Is measured over the wither just behind the shoulder blade.
A1 – is measured about 2-3” behind line A.
C – is measured about 8” behind line B
3. Measuring the Top Line. In this measurement we use the wire along the top line of the spine from the wither at the forward point of the shoulder to the loin mark this measurement T. This is most helpful in determining the wither height for the clearance of the fork and determines the handhold height and gullet clearance. It also give us the amount of rise in the loin area.
Measuring for Rock. This is one of the most important measurements to take and is the hardest to get right. It is hard to get this accurate with wire. So I suggest making a template from the initial wire measurement. The top line does not correlate with the amount of rock in the bar. The angles are different usually. This is measured by coming out 4” from the top line T at positions B and C and mark those points. Lay your wire on a straight line from B to C and continue back to the loin, at the same time line the wire up from C to B and continue on a straight line up over the shoulder. Do not try to keep the line 4” from T ahead of B it will not line up correctly. What you are doing is lining up along the center line of the bar and how that will lay on the horses back. It is important during all these measurements to keep the horses head straight and in that normal working/traveling position. Take this measurement on both sides of the horse R1 and R2. Mark on the tracing where these points cross A, B, and C
R – Rock in the saddle bar
5. Measuring for length of shoulder to hip. This measurement is taken by having the horse stand square on a level surface. Find the back of the shoulder blade about a 1” behind your A line and mark a spot or if you have your A line measure starting from there. Next feel for the the point of the hip. Now use a tape measure to get this distance between the two points.
Some average measurements:
Thoroughbred and Warmbloods – 28-30”
Quarter Horse 25-27”
Arab, Fiord, Icelandic, Cobs, and Hunter Pony’s
AH – Measurement from the point of shoulder to the point of hip.
These are the back drawings that we would like for you to send us.
Saddle tree / fit measurement worksheet
A. Wither measurement ____
A1. Wither Pocket ____
B. Low point of back ____
C. 8” behind B ____
T. Top line ____
AH. Shoulder to hip ____
RL. Rock left side ____
RR. Rock right side ____
If you have any questions or would like to have a professional saddle fitter come and take measurements at your stable or farm please contact me.
For more information on saddle and tree fit please go to our website www.tomlamprey.com or you can always go old school and contact us.
Please also see our page on using the Dennis Lane Back Profile Card System.
Text or Call
Please mail all information to:
Tom Lamprey Saddlery
20878 S 465 Rd
Tahlequah, OK 74464
We also use the Dennis Lane Card System and highly recommend it.
That can be rented or purchased at:
The price for Dennis Lane card system is $120. us including shipping. If you want to to rent the system we will apply the $120.00 towards the purchase of a new saddle and the return of the card system to us.
Purchase Dennis Lane Card System This link is to purchase the Dennis Lane system to keep. We recommend this if you have multiple horses and breeds that you are fitting or purchasing saddles for.