Buying a Saddle - The Essential things to know

Only a saddle with a perfect fit warrants that the horse can move optimally and perform at its best. If the saddle does not fit correctly, the horse is constrained in its movements and may develop painful pressure marks. The following conditions must be met to ensure optimal saddle fitting:

Clearance of withers

The pommel of the saddle is positioned approximately one finger’s width behind the scapula. After girthing, it should be possible to fit two to three stacked fingers between the withers and the saddle.

Saddle centre of gravity

The pommel and cantle edge of the saddle end are level, with the lowest point of the saddle in the middle of the seat. The body´s center of gravity of rider and horse are aligned harmoniously against each other in this position and supports the horse finding the right balance. The horses center of gravity is located approximately in the middle of the thorax at the area of the twelfth thoracic vertebra.

Spine clearance

The saddle does not press on the spinal column, the channel is wide enough and allows sufficient space along both sides of the spinal column.

How to find the perfect saddle

A classic and also approved method to adapt and cushion a saddle is to assign a saddler master to fulfill this task. The qualified saddler master is able to implement modifications concerning the padding and the width of the saddle tree by adjusting the gullet plate.

A saddle specialist must not be a qualified saddler master – this could also be a specialist dealer. What matters is that the person in charge is able to evaluate initial situation on site and also to inform the saddler about necessary changes.

During the last years the possibilities of saddle adjustment developed sophisticatedly. We at Kieffer work with professional measurement systems to be able to take account of anatomical cheracteristics ex works. For our popular dressage saddle Lusitano we offer four different combinations of panel variants to choose the right panel for various anatomic requirements of the horseback before the purchase of the saddle. Kieffer helps to come to a decision which saddle panel is most suitable according to a previous data transmission of a professional horse measurement.

The padding of the saddle proceeds within our production before delivery to obtain a optimal results. In many cases we create a pressure measurement with the help of a horseback model to archieve a perfect fit and padding. After delivery, the saddle should ideally be evaluated and controlled while the horse is in motion. Following this, corrections can be made where necessary.

Measurement systems for measuring the horseback

Horse owners know this problem all too well: "How do I find the saddle that fits my horse?"

The answer is provided by different measuring systems which allow an exact analysis of the horseback. On the basis of individual determined measurement values it is possible to reproduce the horseback for an optimal adjustment of the saddle fitting to the horseback. The rsult ist a saddle with a perfect fit.

At the moment we at Kieffer use three common measurement systems which allow us to archieve a perfect saddle fit.


The Topographer PRO is a professional device for taking the measurements of a horse’s back and for the reproduction of existing measurement data which combines high precision with easy handling. Let us walk through the basic steps of measuring as horse with the Topographer PRO. First, the Topographer PRO is positioned on the horse’s back with reference to the position of shoulder blades the thoracic vertebra. Fully 98 angles taken of the back are measured as precise numerical values, including the top line and the lateral elements. Thanks to the precise ratcheting, the value that the arrow points to can always be read unambiguously.

Get an insight into measuring the horse’s back together with Kieffer and EQUIscan saddle fitting technology which also documents muscular development of the horse’s back by watching the following video. Nicola Buchmiller, head of our service department, demonstrates how to handle measuring data for an optimal adjustment of the saddle fitting perfect to the horse’s back.

Furthermore, we accompany the etablished horse physio therapist Annemie Dejonckheere ( FOKUS PFERD & REITER ) who explains us, what to consider to obtain a perfect result concerning a perfect saddle fit for horse and rider.


Saddle-Check enables an exact measurement based on the nationwide system of the BVFR (Federal Assotioation of Saddlers for Vehicles and Equestrian Sports). The overarching goal is to measure every horseback according to a coherent system as accurately and easy as possible. This forms the basis for manufacturing anatomically fitted saddles.


The ScanKit is the first mobile 3D measurement system for the horse’s back worldwide. With the easy handling of our 3D-Scanner measurement and documentation of horsebacks becomes fast, hassle-free and absolutely precise.

The experienced Kieffer saddle specialist is also able to decide which panel is the right one without taking measurements. This, however, requires profound knowledge concerning our different panel variants and also the ability to give a professional opinion on the situation. If you are looking for a Kieffer saddle and a specialist contact partner, please contact us via e-mail - we're happy to help you.


certified by the ’Austrian Department For Animal Welfare’

Animal welfare-compliant

Our made to measure saddle concept based on EQUIscan and Saddle-Check (BVFR) measurement data has been renowned as animal welfare-compliant by the ’Austrian Department For Animal Welfare’.

The combination of our saddle tree and panel concepts with professional measurement data enables us to built or adjust custom made to measure saddles fitting perfectly to the horses back. It was and is always our aim to create horse-friendly equipment for healthy horses and lucky riders.

Because of this fact, we are are so proud that our work has been certified as animal welfare-compliant from official side.

Please note: to ensure that a saddle stays always animal welfare-compliant, you have to keep in mind to make regular use of professional check ups, documentation and adjustment.