Points of the Saddle
The saddle tree is the solid part of the saddle. It is a frame usually made from wood laminates or plastic. When a saddle maker begins to make a saddle he starts with the tree and then builds the leather around it. It is the tree that determines the length and width of your saddle.
The waist of the saddle is the narrowest part of the saddle seat. Saddles are made in a variety of waist widths but is not normal for an option to be given for different waist sizes. The width of the waist will effect the way a saddle sits on a horses back e.g. a narrow waisted saddle may not suit a horse that is wide fitting.
They are the lowest point of the saddle tree sitting on the horse. The width at the tree points is important because narrow points may put too much pressure on the horses shoulder.
A point strap is an extra girth strap attached to the points of the saddle tree. These usually do not come fitted to a saddle as standard. A Qualified Saddler would normally add them to a saddle. They are fitted normally to prevent saddles slipping forward and are most commonly fitted to pony saddles, as this tends to be a much bigger problem in ponies.
The seat of the saddle is the area where you sit. Seats come in a variety of different depths and slopes depending on the type of saddle.
A gusset very often determines the shape of the panel in a saddle which in turn will determine how the saddle fits the horse. The shape of saddle tree e.g. deep or flat will have bearing on the size of the gusset in the panel.
The panel of a saddle is the part of the saddle that comes in contact with the horses back. There are different types of panels, which are described below.
The stirrup bar on a saddle is where the stirrup leather attaches to the saddle. They usually come in two types, one with a safety clip at the end and the other without. Another type of stirrup bar that can sometimes be seen in dressage saddles is one is moveable backwards and forwards.
The skirts of a saddle are stitched to the seat of the saddle and cover the stirrup bar.
Flaps on the saddle are the large pieces of leather that cover the girth straps. Different shapes of flaps come on different saddles. Some makers even specify long or short flaps according to the person’s leg length. Attached to most saddle flaps is the kneepad. The kneepad is normally made from soft leather with foam padding.
Knee Rolls are the heightened padding that is underneath the flap/knee pad of your saddle. They are made in many shapes and sizes. Some are made of hard foam covered with leather and some of soft foam. In some saddles they are attached by Velcro and can be removed or their position altered.
Banana rolls tend to be long and go down the front of the saddle. The rider’s knee must be behind the banana blocks.
Knee blocks tend to be put closer to the top of the kneepad, also higher and the knee can usually extend past the underside of the block unlike the longer banana roll.
Thigh blocks are present in some saddles but not all. They are available in different heights and sizes and are designed to keep you lower leg in a better position. Some riders love them, some hate them. They do restrict lower leg movement that can be a problem in some disciplines.
Girth straps are underneath the saddle flap and are the means for keeping the saddle on the horse. They are made from very strong leather that will take lots of wear and tear. They are usually the first part of the saddle to wear out and should be regularly checked by your saddler. Most saddles have 3 straps on each side. Dressage saddle only have 2.
Buckle guards are used to protect the underside of the flap from the buckles on the girth.
Foam panels are mostly used in close contact jumping saddles. The main advantage with these panels is that they are very comfortable for the horse to wear; they do not go lumpy like stuffed panels. The only drawback with foam panels is that there shape can not be altered.
Stuffed Panels are the most traditional type of panel used in a saddle. It is a leather bag stuffed with wool or synthetic flock. A stuffed panel in a saddle should periodically be checked for lumps and bumps as they can develop these through time. The flocking within the saddle will have to be changed completely, this is called a "complete re-flock". Flock can be added to certain parts of the panel to aid the fitting of the saddle. This process should only take place when the saddler has seen and fitted the horse.
The pommel of the saddle is the highest part at the front of the saddle. When riding in the saddle look straight down and you will see the pommel.
The cantle of the saddle is the highest part at the back of the saddle. This part of the saddle is very easy to damage as the leather is stretched tightly over the cantle.
Taken From Horse Data