California Riding Magazine • April, 2014

Ask An Expert

Reader: I keep hearing my friends talking about getting custom saddles for their horses. How important do you think that is?

Jill: Great question! For many of us who rode horses in the 70s, the biggest concern was if a saddle fit ourselves: if it was comfortable. Just like everything else over time, things evolve. When looking at horse anatomy, not a single one is the same. Long withers, sloped back, flat back, forward girth area ... the list goes on.

A properly fitted saddle is as important as the right horse. It is very difficult to purchase an "off the shelf" saddle and expect it to fit. For me, the comparison is, if I were a woman's shoemaker who had to fit all women with one size of shoe. So I make all my shoes in a size 8. Too small for you? Wear a thinner sock. Too big for you? Put on a thicker sock. But that doesn't work.  

If you want the best performance from your equine partner I recommend a saddle custom-made for him. We all spend quite a bit of money purchasing, caring for and training our horses.  It only makes sense to invest in a saddle that allows for the horse's comfort for ultimate performance.

Jill Beltran has an extensive history in dressage from Training through Grand Prix, and she has earned USDF bronze, silver and gold medals. She is pictured here with Waling, her 14 year old Grand Prix Friesian gelding. Jill teaches and gives clinics
on a regular basis. For more information, visit