1. Download the Intake Form (MS Word .DOC format or Plain Text .TXT format), fill it out, and return it to [email protected].
This form helps me understand your budget, riding discipline, and other key aspects of your fitting situation. When you’re done, email your form to [email protected]
2. Take 3 critical photos and send them to [email protected]:
Below, I describe these photos in extreme detail and show lots of examples. But if you’re standing in your barn aisle thinking, “What do I need again?”, here’s the quick hit list:
- One side shot of the rider, in or out of the saddle, showing the relative proportions of your torso, rear end, upper leg, and lower leg.
- One side shot of the horse, showing the entire horse, with its front feet lined up together and its back feet lined up together. Your horse should be standing as straight as possible from front to back.
- A shot of the horse from behind and above, showing the shoulders and the area where a saddle sits on your horse’s back. Safety first! Don’t get kicked when you take this photo. Pro tip, either stand on a mounting block 10 feet behind the horse, or hold your smartphone in the air above the horse’s hindquarters.
Options for delivering your photos:
- email them to [email protected]
- post them online to a sharing site like TinyPic or Imgur and send me the links, or
- post them in a public Facebook photo album, then send me the link.
If you’re not a Details Person, this is all you really need to know. But if you’re a perfectionist, here is…
MORE THAN YOU WANTED TO KNOW about Nailing the Three Critical Photos:
The better your photos, the better my advice will be. I know these shots are a little tricky to get, but you can do it! I believe in you!
Critical Photo #1: The RIDER in question, shown from the side, in or out of the saddle
When it comes to saddle fitting, your comfort and the horse’s comfort are two sides of the same coin. You could have a saddle that fits the horse perfectly but doesn’t fit the rider, and the horse could still be miserable. If you’re both comfortable and accommodated, you’ll get better results.
So I need to see your body and get a sense of your body proportions. Any shot of you from the side, in or out of the saddle, would be fine. I’m looking especially at your torso, legs, and behind.
For extra brownie points, send a picture of you riding in your current saddle. This helps me assess stuff like whether your current seat size might be too big or small for you, whether you would benefit from a different flap cut/angle/length, etc.
Examples of acceptable rider shots:
Critical Photo #2: the HORSE in question, from the side, standing as square and straight as possible. If in doubt, send one shot for each side of the horse, left and right.
The perfect side shot has three features:
1. Show me the whole horse, nose to tail and ear to hoof. This is really, really, really important. If I can’t see the whole horse, then I’m playing a dangerous guessing game. For example, suppose I can’t see that the horse is cocking one rear hoof because that’s not in the photo. I might incorrectly assume that the horse’s topline is more curvy than it really is. If I can see the cocked foot, I can use my imagination to visualize what the topline really looks like in a neutral position.
If you absolutely cannot get someone to hold the lead rope while you back up far enough to show me the whole horse, just do your best with cross ties. I have a decent imagination, and I’m happy to look at your photos and tell you whether they’re workable.
2. The horse’s head and neck in a neutral position. This means not grazing, not looking up at the clouds, not looking at the camera, as straight as your horse can stand.
3. The horse’s feet are square or close to it. In short, the front feet line up with each other, the back feet line up with each other, and the horse isn’t really camped out or really tucked under. It’s okay if the rear feet don’t line up perfectly, as long as I can see the whole horse.
Critical Photo #3: Horse from behind and above, showing the spine and shoulders
This shot shows me your horse’s asymmetries (if any) and gives me a better feel for the shape of his shoulders, withers, and bearing surface for his back. It’s very helpful for assessing the right panel shape and panel height for your horse.
Stay safe when you take this shot! Stand outside the kick radius, and stand on something sturdy and level, like a mounting block. Raise your camera high enough to see the horse’s back/saddle area, not just the rump. Your horse’s head should be relatively straight, if possible.
For Overachievers: Optional Photos to Send
1. The horse, wearing whichever saddle + pad + girth you typically use.
If you are currently riding your horse, it can be useful to see the full saddle getup that you’re currently using. This helps me assess whether there might be a much simpler fix than buying a new saddle–and sometimes there is.
2. If you’d like me to assess the fit of a current saddle, or a saddle on trial, send these photos too:
- Basically the side shot that I describe above in Critical Photo #2, BUT this time put the saddle on the horse’s back. For this shot, don’t use any pads or girth up the saddle. Just park the saddle on the horse’s back, nekked. This will look silly. That’s okay, show it to me anyway.
- The horse wearing JUST the saddle and no pads, showing the front of the saddle (the pommel arch and the area under the pommel arch, near the withers). You can take this by standing up by the horse’s head and holding your camera up near the horse’s neck.
- The horse wearing JUST the saddle, showing the saddle from the rear and above. Aim to be at about the same angle as you see in Photo #3 above, the photo with a big horse-butt in it. Don’t get kicked!
- Repeat the three shots I just described but this time, use your pads and girth. Yup.
- For extra extra credit, show me the saddle + pads + girth AFTER you’ve just ridden in the saddle, so that I can see where it settled on the horse’s back after a ride. This is often very revealing information.
Whoa, back up the truck, Jen. How come you didn’t ask for [fill in whatever photo here]?
If in doubt, go ahead and send me too many photos. I don’t mind getting photo bombed. It’s fun to see your lovely horses!
But in my experience, the photos I describe above are the mission-critical photos. The rest is just gravy and rarely gives me more info than I got from the shots I describe above. So while I enjoy ogling your horses, that shot of Dobbin running through the grass probably won’t help me advise you.