Saddle pressure in horses - recognise, treat and prevent in good time!

The saddle has made riding so much easier for us humans and yet it is precisely this saddle that can cause many horses considerable problems. Regardless of the riding style - some horse saddles do not fit "like a glove". This has unpleasant consequences for the relationship between horse and rider and, of course, primarily for the health of the animal. Good advice is expensive here, because a horse's leather needs in the course of its life should firstly fit and secondly sit.

So the fact is, not every saddle is right for every horse. We don't want to deprive you of what can happen if the horse's back has to put up with a less than ideal model. And in fact there are even more reasons for saddle pressure that will certainly interest you.

What is it exactly and what are the causes?

Saddle pressure on horses means the pressure points that can occur when the saddle does not fit properly. It can also be caused by an incorrectly fitted or slipped saddle cloth. Even a heavy, badly seated rider could bring increased punctual pressure on the horse's saddle or on the horse.

All of these then cause bruising in the area of the saddle and withers. Even building faults, clearly missing muscle parts, an unfavourable stirrup strap position, a dirty saddle cloth, an insufficiently cleaned saddle area, the physical change from remonte to adult horse or too little support surface for rider and luggage (trail riding) are possible stimulants.

Mostly affected are areas with relatively little musculature, such as the withers or the spine. However, pressure points can also occur on the back. Often, white hair (prickle hair) grows back on the compressed areas because the pigmentation of the skin is damaged by the pressure. This stitch hair remains. The pigmentation damage is irreparable.

It is also worth mentioning that a girth that is too loose or too tight can also cause saddle pressure in the girth position. So it is not necessarily only the horse's back that is involved.

Symptoms of saddle pressure in horses

In the early stages:

- roughened, dull or broken coat

- No even sweat pattern after training

- Restlessness when saddling or re-girting

- Sticking of the coat

In the advanced stage:

- marked indisposition expressions of the horse such as snapping when saddling and grooming possible

- Pressed or swollen skin

- Possible problems during riding, e.g. stiff posture, back pushed away, restlessness, tail thrashing or even bucking.

- inflamed areas with oozing skin and/or pus



The horse must now be spared! No riding, no saddle, no girths etc... until the saddle pressure has completely healed.

Swollen skin benefits from prompt cooling with water and/or an acetate mixture. Mild, wound-healing ointments can help protect the affected tissue. Dexpanthenol, calendula or arnica ointments are suitable. However, these should not be applied to open wounds!

It is sensible to have a vet look at the sore area. He can quickly initiate the right treatment in the form of a suitable medication if the wound is already inflamed. In the worst case, a secondary infection may develop through the wound and antibiotics must be administered quickly to protect deeper tissue, bones and ligaments.

Possible muscle tension caused by the saddle pressure on the horse should also be treated (e.g. osteopathy, acupuncture, etc.). A good support during this time can be the addition of homeopathic remedies. This regenerates the horse's organism from the inside out.

If it is the horse's saddle

If the veterinarian confirms that the saddle does not fit well at the moment, the saddler should come by to get an idea and adjust the material if necessary. If, however, it is no longer suitable for the horse at all, new equipment really needs to be considered. A knowledgeable saddler can take measurements on the horse beforehand to ensure that the new saddle fits properly and is right for the animal. He can also give advice, which makes sense for both rider and horse.


Again, wait until complete healing has been achieved. Measurements could otherwise deviate due to swelling.

How to prevent saddle pressure in horses

- Clean the saddle well (paddock sand and mud chafe).

- Take your time when saddling (correct position, put the blanket on without folds, do not girth quickly).

- Do not girth too loosely/tightly

- Always make sure that the saddle pad is clean

- An anatomical cut of the saddle cloth is advantageous.

- The blanket/pad must fit the saddle in terms of size.

- Replace girths when necessary (high wear).

- question the animal's reluctance to saddle or ride thoroughly

- Regular checks by a saddler or expert to see if the saddle still fits the horse's back.

- Do not neglect muscle development training

- Use mounting aids to prevent the saddle from slipping

- Work on yourself (posture, gentle aids etc...) in order to continue to be a pleasant leisure partner for the horse.

Clear conclusion

You have just read it yourself. There are many ways to effectively prevent saddle pressure in horses. If you follow them, this will certainly not be an issue for you and your treasure in the future. As the saying goes?

Caution does not hurt.