Placement of the Driving Saddle
A well-fitted driving harness is akin to good, comfortable shoes. Likewise, an ill-fitting harness can be as irritating as shoes that are too small or too narrow, or ones that are too big and flop around. Because of this, a well-fitting harness is also a safer harness.
The largest difference in the placement of a driving saddle verses a riding saddle is that the bearing surface of a driving saddle should be well-behind the horse’s withers. A common newbie mistake is to place the saddle on top of or near the withers. The driving saddle should, in no way, touch the withers. Putting the saddle too far forward also usually makes the girth too far forward, which can gall the elbow. Strap saddles without trees are likely culprits of girths that must be tight in order for the saddle to remain in the right position side-to-side on the horse. If your saddle wants to slip side-to-side without the girth attached, it most likely does not fit your horse's back and/or is made incorrectly or poorly.
A well-made driving saddle that fits the horse should rest on what I like to call the “sweet spot” on the back, not rock side to side, and it should also lay flat on the back without rocking or tipping.
So do your driving horse a favor and place the saddle well-behind his withers. He will be much more comfortable and happier for it!
For more on this topic, see our article.
Also see our article on Saddle Gullet Clearance.
- Myrna Rhinehart