Saddle Fitting & How to take a Wither Tracing Instructions


A wither tracing is very important when buying a new saddle. If your new saddle does not fit, it is money down the drain.

A wither tracing is taken by moulding or shaping a piece of soft wire around the horses wither where the front forks of the saddle would fit.

With horses that have been ridden for some time, a saddle pouch has normally formed and the tracing should be in the front of that area.

This can be drawn on to a piece of A4 paper and faxed or emailed to us. We then custom make a tree to that shape before your new saddle is made. This ensures a good fit and many years of comfort for your valued horse.


Any piece of paper is 90 degrees, which fits 90% of horses. By taking the wither tracing we can ensure the fit is correct.

The tree length can be as short as 21 inches or up to 23 inches. This can be custom cut to suit your horse type. As the leather part that extends beyond the tree is totally flexible, it does not matter, provided it does not interfere with hip movement. Remember, the more of a horses back you can cover means less rider pounds per square inch and less chance of soring up a horse.

We use our Saddle Tech Guage to calculate the exact angle in degrees of the wither tracing

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We at James Saddlery do not have saddles off the rack that are made to suit the terms narrow, wide or extra wide. There are saddles on the market that do offer these off the rack fits. However, this does not guarantee a saddle bearing one of these terms will fit your horse.

After years of fitting saddles, we have found that 95 percent of horses are around 90 degrees at the point where the front forks of the saddle most comfortably fit. This is the point where ill fitting saddles most commonly cause problems. Because of this our saddles off the rack are made to that 90 degree specification.

If your horse is other than 90 degrees we ask you to send a wither tracing so we can establish the exact angle you need the gullet to be to fit your horse. We treat this as an exact science and it is critical to your horses performance and long term wellbeing that the saddle be a perfect fit. The information you provide is critical and the saddle you order will be made to that exact angle which gives us the shape and contour of your horses back.

We do not make saddles that measure gullet size or width in inches and while terms such as narrow, wide and extra wide or a horses description such as thoroughbred, semi quarter horse or full quarter horse etc may be a good indicator of what you may need, they can not ensure you get the right fit. The only way is the exact angle of your horses withers at the point where the load bearing front forks must contact your horse.