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Saddle slides forward

I am trialing a dressage saddle that fits me perfectly but that slides forward substantially on my horse during the ride. This isn’t unique to this saddle - my two previous dressage saddles did the same thing although maybe less drastically.
I have an anatomical girth.

Any idea how I can make this saddle work?
Adapting the billets? Using a crupper??

Here are photos before and after ride.

I guess I am going to say that it just does not fit correctly. A shot showing the fit over the withers and how it fits the body behind the shoulders would be a real help.

Sadly in my experience ill fitting saddles move. Well fitted saddles stay put.


Your saddle doesn’t fit, and/or it’s got the wrong girth strap setup for her very forward girth groove.

I’d highly recommend a really good independent saddle fitter.


What kind of girth strap setup would work for my horse’s very forward girth groove?
Again, I’ve had 2 dressage saddles (and trialed a few more) and 2 jump saddles for this horse and they all end up on her neck.

my daughter’s competitive trail pony’s saddle continually slipped no matter what was done until by chance we had him on a concrete driveway noticing it appeared his right front leg was shorter than his left.

We have a very good farrier who set the pony up measuring his to discover his right leg actually was shorter. Corrected him by adding a small 1/2" pad between shoe and hoof… saddle never slipped again.

Pony was later sold with full disclosure without a problem

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Whenever I’ve had the saddle slide forward, it’s been too narrow. I have had to play with billet position and girth type to get a well fitting saddle to work better but I’d be suspicious of fit if it’s sliding forward.

Have you had a fitter look at it? If the tree fits it may just need a flocking adjustment.

ETA - for forward girth grooves, I’ve had good luck with either an anatomical girth (County logic, etc) or a point billet to help get the girth in the right spot. I also find that having a dressage girth as long as possible helps significantly.

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Just going from the pics and from your description of the saddle constantly inching forward, the saddle is too narrow.

From the front, the amount of clearance the pommel has from the withers is too much; when you sit on the saddle you’d be driving the saddle’s points downward, pinching the sides of the horse’s withers.

A saddle-fitter would probably help you a lot, but this saddle doesn’t fit.

Here’s a good video about saddle fit that might be helpful:


Pommel clearance doesn’t say anything about whether the saddle fits in other areas. A saddle can fit like a glove everywhere, but not have a high enough pommel and therefore not enough wither clearance. And, it can fit everywhere, and if the withers are low, or the pommel on that saddle is high, then there will be more wither clearance.


Unfortunately, this saddle does not fit this horse in the current configuration- and may not fit the horse at all. This applies to the other saddles that are sliding forward.

This horse has a very forward girth groove, and the geometry of your billets isn’t helping. You can see the Post Ride pics have the billets vertical relative to the ground - this is where they “should” sit when the saddle is girthed and sitting in the right spot. A point billet + anatomical girth can help - just be aware that point billet use can dig the tree into the horse pretty severely if the saddle isn’t perfectly fitted. Even more than the same tree in traditional setup.

Long anatomical girths on short billet saddles can also help with this. I’m really not sure why, but I think this setup adds stability due to surface area.

I suspect you have a functionally downhill*, low withered but not hugely wide horse that has a very forward girth groove and a well sprung rib cage. Welcome to the club - my TB is the same way! He takes a very open headed, or even borderline hoop tree - French and French style tree saddles generally don’t fit him.

Whatever you do, a crupper is the same thing as using a breastplate on a saddle that’s sliding back - it doesn’t address the fact that the saddle doesn’t, ultimately, fit.

*ETA: even if the horse isn’t truly built downhill and is closer to level, if they lack withers, big shoulders, and/or huge gaits to push a saddle back, it may slide forward instead. Hence the “functionally” above. Just wanted to clarify.

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The last saddle I tried was a passier that ended up being way too wide. It also slid forward onto her neck so I’m skeptical that the reason this one slides is because it’s too narrow. It’s possible. But I don’t think it’s necessarily the case.

I’m also surprised by the idea of the horse being downhill. That also makes sense in theory but my horse is a Lusitano built uphill

Interestingly, the saddle I have that slides forward the least is my all purpose that I use for trails and we have competed in endurance with it. It’s also too wide so I use a shim but it still doesn’t sit as balanced as it should. but it doesn’t end up on her neck.

I used to have to do all the things with my younger horse to keep his saddle back where it was supposed to be. He had a well sprung barrel, forward girth groove and very short back. He was hyper sensitive to saddle position and he’d do a defensive humped back when he was worried. That hump pushed the saddle forward. He was sensitive to a positional difference of a quarter inch. Literally going from bronc to all in “what are we doing today” after I moved the saddle back 1/4".

All the things included:

  • a crupper
  • point billets on my saddle
  • the saddle model was designed for short backs
  • an offset girth (Total Saddle Fit StrtechTec)
  • that girth was neoprene lined
  • cross buckling the girth so the point billets were in the rear buckle, and the rear billets cross over to the front buckle
  • non slip pad between horse and saddle pad
  • non slip pad between the saddle pad and the saddle (because mine slipped forward on top of the pad like yours did in that picture)
  • starting my ride with a loose girth (I regularly had people telling me they could see daylight between the girth and the horse - even complete strangers at shows!)

The saddle stayed put with a loose girth, so it did fit well. His conformation meant the girth pulled the saddle forward.

I never ever attached anything to the girth like martingale or breastplate or draw reins that could possibly pull the girth forward.

And I had the saddle adjusted as needed (usually twice a year), and used various, ridiculously thin shims to keep it rideable as needed.

As his confidence in the saddle not pinching nerves grew, the crupper became a sort of emergency thing. I always put it on and it was still slightly loose when I dismounted. I was able to stop using the non slip pads eventually as well. Later the saddle fitter was able to do a softer stuff on the panel (he rejected that previously, and wanted everything quite firm) and he decided he liked the sheepskin halfpad.

He was always very clear on his feelings about the saddle fit and position. I could often tell if an adjustment had missed the mark just by watching him go on the longe.

Good luck with yours!

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That saddle perches on top of the horse, when saddles are supposed to hug a horse’s back.

Maybe too much flocking in that model is contributing to the problem, slides because saddle is just sitting up there?


Knowing generalities of the breed, what I see in the pictures and being familiar that model, it is too narrow in the rails.

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What are the rails?

I tried the saddle on my other horse (also Lusitano) and it stayed put perfectly. When I got off I realised that my girth was literally hanging but the saddle hadn’t budged.
It seems to perch on him a bit too but he is a bit narrower in the angle than my mare. He has a normal girth groove though. I think the saddle has a lot of height in the tree and my horses don’t really have withers.

I might buy the saddle for him because it also fits me so well and then play around with the girthing to try to make it work for my mare as well. I thought I’d try one of the WOW H girths

To me, that tree is too narrow for your horse. Could it be adjusted? Maybe, but a good saddle fitter would be able to tell you for sure.

Fitting saddles is probably the hardest thing about riding. My TB Alex has a deceptive back - my old riding instructor INSISTED he was a medium to medium-wide, kept trying to get me to ride in saddles that I knew were too narrow for him. I finally had her take the widgets out of a Wintec adjustable-tree saddle and put them on his back so she could see he was actually an XW.

A saddle shouldn’t necessarily slide because a horse is built downhill. My old Bodie was the most downhill-built QH in the history of the world, but because his saddles fit, they never slid forward.

That girth is also way too short( pic 2).

I can see why they are difficult to fit. Is it common for the breed to be more narrow front and rear but have a larger, lower hanging belly? That alone would have the saddle sliding forward.

I am used to my horses being round all over…

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Just an update for anyone interested:
I ended up finding a Wow H girth which cost a small fortune but which has done the trick! Saddle no longer moves at all, even with girth slightly loose.
I also changed the saddle pad (just to a normal square pad) because I think mine wasn’t helping matters either because it slid back while saddle slid forward on top of it.