What is a Good Gullet Size for High Withered Horse? (Guide)

What is the right-sized gullet for a high-withered horse? As an equestrian, I know that proper saddle fit is one of the most important things to consider when you want your horse to be happy at work.

I will show you a good gullet size for a high withered horse and how to measure gullet size on a saddle so that it fits properly on the horse’s back and does not cause discomfort.

What is a Good Gullet Size for a High Withered Horse?

The gullet is the gap located in the middle of the underside of any saddle. It bridges the horse’s spine and prevents the rider from sitting on the horse’s sensitive spinal ligaments and causing damage.

To prevent the saddle from pinching the spinal nerves and causing unnecessary rubbing, the gullet has to be wide enough to spread the rider’s weight evenly across the horse’s back.

According to Schleese Saddlery, a good rule of thumb for the correct size gullet on any horse is that the rider should be able to fit four fingers inside the gullet. [1]

This will provide maximum clearance for the withers. If you can only fit two or three fingers inside the gullet, it is too narrow and will pose a risk to your horse’s spine.

Your horse will also be more prone to hollowing its back out of discomfort. With a perfect size saddle, your horse will have freedom of movement and want to engage its abdominals and hindquarters to create impulsion.

How do you measure the gullet in a saddle? Here is a video tutorial from Schleese Saddlery showing how to measure the gullet for any horse.

Fitting the Gullet on a High Withered Horse

When fitting a gullet on a high withered horse, ensure that it clears at least an inch of space or 2–3 fingers’ room above their withers.

If the saddle rubs their withers, it will restrict their shoulder blade and prevent movement. If the saddle sits too high above the horse’s withers, the gullet is too narrow and will press on its spine.

Since the withers and shoulders are so close to each other on the horse, it is also important to take their shoulders into account when saddling one with high withers.

If your horse has narrow shoulders along with high withers, a gaited saddle is an option. Gaited saddles [2] have a unique tree to allow for the high action movement of gaited horses.

Pay attention to the saddle design, as the saddle tree of a gaited saddle naturally has more room for the horse’s shoulders to allow them to perform their special gaits.

Make sure to check our list of high withered saddle pads.

Cutback Saddle Pads for High Withered Horses

If you have difficulty finding a saddle for your horse, you can adjust your current saddle to fit them using a cutback saddle pad.

Cutback saddle pads have a cutout in them for your horse’s withers, which creates more space for them, reducing pressure and ensuring your horse’s comfort, making happy riders.

ALSO CHECK: Gel Saddle Pad for Horses

Fitting a Western Saddle on a High Withered Horse

When fitting a western saddle on a high withered horse, the goal is to find one with a high enough gullet to accommodate the withers. [3]

Just like with English saddles, find a saddle that is appropriate for the classes you ride in, that will make your horse comfortable.

See our review of English saddle pads for sale.

A horse in pain will lead to long-term health issues and less than satisfactory performance in training and at shows.

Here is a video explaining how to size the gullet of a western saddle and giving general tips on western saddle fit.

CHECK: What are the withers on a horse?

FAQs

How do you treat high withers on a horse?

a girl fitting a saddle pad on high wither horse

There is no comprehensive treatment for high withers in horses. However, a well-fitting saddle will prevent the discomfort that can become a pain in the wither area.

What saddles are good for high-withered horses?

Any saddle that has a high enough gullet to allow the withers to clear and give freedom to the shoulders. Gaited saddles and cutback saddles are two good options.

What size gullet does my horse need?

If you can fit four fingers inside the gullet space, the gullet is the right size. If you can fit less than two fingers or more than three, the gullet is either a too wide or too narrow saddle.

Conclusion

What is a good gullet size for a high-withered horse? This is achieved when you can fit four fingers inside the gullet and there is an inch of space between it and the horse’s withers.

Saddles on high withered horses should not pinch the withers or shoulders. This can cause pain and restrict movement. Choose the right gullet size for a happy horse!

saddle pad with a good size gullet

So, what is a good gullet size for a high withered horse? Let us know your opinion below!

Resources

  • 1. Goldsmith L. Evaluating Saddle Fit: Gullet Width [Internet]. EQUINE Ink. 2020 [cited 2022 Feb 17]. Available from: https://equineink.com/2020/05/11/evaluating-saddle-fit-gullet-width/
  • 2. Davis J. What Is the Difference Between a Gaited Horse Saddle & a Western Saddle? [Internet]. Pets on Mom.com. [cited 2022 Feb 17]. Available from: https://animals.mom.com/difference-between-gaited-horse-saddle-western-saddle-7112.html
  • 3. Davis J. What Type of Saddle for a High-Withered Horse? [Internet]. Pets on Mom.com. [cited 2022 Feb 17]. Available from: https://animals.mom.com/type-saddle-highwithered-horse-4681.html
Bryanna Tanase
Bryanna Tanase

Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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