Introduction to Saddle Fit

Growing up as a young rider, most of us saddled up with whatever saddle was available never thinking about saddle fit. Unless you grew up with someone knowledgeable about it, those white spots that appeared on the horse’s withers weren’t alarming. Today as more emphasis is placed on the horse’s comfort, those white spots are like smoke coming out of a burning building – HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM! At Reinsman, we believe achieving proper saddle fit is the first step to an enjoyable ride. Our beginner’s guide to saddle fit will get you on your way to understanding and deciding if you have a saddle fit issue.

Trees are designed for the majority of horse conformations. However, there is no standardization in the industry of what is a semi, full, draft, or gaited fit. At Reinsman, we do our own research and tailor our trees based upon the hundreds of horses we individually fit each year. That is why you’ll find several tree fits that work well on many performance horses.

The gullet measurement is important, but it is the most misunderstood. It is not the defining factor of saddle fit. Most importantly, not every saddle with a specified gullet measurement will fit the same. The angle and twist of the bars affect how the saddle will fit. Additionally, the way a saddle maker takes the gullet measurement is on the bare tree and not with the leather on the saddle. If you’re looking to purchase a used saddle and the seller provides a gullet measurement, under stand that measurement can vary greatly depending on where he/she held the measuring tape and is not the true gullet measurement.

The front of the saddle tree bar (approximately the front edge of the concho) should be behind the shoulder blade (scapula) to allow for freedom of movement. Placing the saddle too far forward over the scapula can cause unnecessary rubbing and pressure (white spots). The blanket or pad and the skirt of the saddle can cover the back of the scapula but the bars of the tree must be behind the shoulder blade. This is important as a saddle will travel back/forward to settle into this sweet spot.

The illustration below is a simplified view of the goal of saddle fitting: to achieve bar contact between the tree and the horse. With a good fit, the bar angle matches the angle of the horse for maximum contact, and there is sufficient clearance between the wither of the horse and the swell of the saddle.

When there is little bar contact and the pressure is concentrated in a particular place, the result can be pinching, rubbing, or white marks. Note that pinching does not always mean the horse needs a wider fit – in fact, concentrated pinching often means the fit is TOO wide, as seen in the Tree Too Wide illustration.

Dry areas within sweat marks and a dropped back indicate the saddle is bridging.

The rock of the tree should also match the rock of the horse (amount of curve in the back). A horse with a very straight back may have issues with the saddle rocking from front to back and require a mule tree which has less rock, or corrective padding. Likewise a horse with a swayback will require a bridge pad to keep the saddle from bridging. Bridging occurs when the tree does not make contact in the middle because the back is dropped. A bridge pad will fill in the gap between the horse and saddle. Use our Saddle Pad Wizard to help you identify which pads are ideal for your horse to increase his comfort.



For more detailed saddle fitting information, please reference our Saddle Fitting Guide.

Difference Between a Reinsman Pad Liner and an Underpad

What’s the difference between a pad liner and an underpad? We make it easy to decide which pad you may need to suit your specific riding situation.

Under Pad - Black Felt

Need a little more cushion under your saddle? Don’t like the bottom that’s on your current pad or maybe you just want to keep things nice and clean? No sweat, get an under pad! These pads were made for just those situations.

Available in different materials – Tacky, Felt, & Wool

Under Pads

  • Add extra layer of cushion
  • Protects expensive pad from dirt and sweat
  • Wicks moisture
  • Breathable
  • Available in contoured design




Different from an under pad, a liner is half the thickness and intended to serve as a clean barrier between your horse and the significant investment of your main saddle pad. Non-contoured intentionally because of its thin cut a saddle pad liner will form to the horses back once it’s ridden. Replace this liner at an interval relative to your riding volume an keep your saddle pad looking and performing like new.

Available in Felt

Pad Liner

  • Half the thickness of an under pad
  • Protects expensive pad from dirt and sweat
  • Thin material naturally forms to horse’s back
  • Inexpensive enough to replace as often as you want


Every Reinsman pad is backed by our Handshake Promise which is our promise to you to build the highest quality saddle pads from the best materials with pride in Yoakum, Texas. Our goal is to help horsemen choose the correct saddle pad for their application by providing educational resources to help make the decision process easier.

Our unique construction methods allow for our pads to be engineered for maximum performance and back protection. They have USA Hi-Tech fibers so the inside of your saddle pad is just as reliable as the outside.

WPRA Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Marlene McRae Rides Reinsman

Marlene’s saddles are designed to her specifications of quality, fit, and benefits to the rider. Marlene’s Special Effx Saddle System replaces the traditional rigid, solid wood saddle tree with her own custom made Special Effx Saddle Tree that form fits to each horse’s back, greatly improving the fit and allowing her saddles to fit a wider range of horses. It is like a custom fitted saddle for each horse that you ride!

“We usually ride between six to 12 new horses every month and I have not found one yet that this saddle did not fit. When it comes to truly fitting and allowing each horse to move without resistance, this is the one. Believe me, if it was not the best fitting saddle available I would not ride it!” states Marlene

Exclusive Special Effx tree:
– has conforming bars made of an advanced polyethylene to provide freedom of movement
– has used for years because of the great fit if offers many horses
– backed with a lifetime warranty

Seat, horn, and swell keep you balanced with your horse.  Carpet skirt liner for grip and form fits to your horse’s back with close contact cut out skirt.  Biothane stirrup leathers for flexibility and less weight.  Leather latigo tie straps for longevity and provides some give for your horse’s comfort. Roughout seat jockeys provides some grip as you’re riding. Aluminum stirrups with rubber grip. All Marlene’s Special Effx Saddles come complete with a full back girth assembly. A back cinch is useful to keep your saddle secured on your horse’s loin area as he/she works. Made by hand in Texas.

Marlene McRae is a WPRA World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist barrel racer.

4246 Marlene McRae Special Effx

11-Time World Champion Charmayne James Rides Reinsman

“Superior attention to detail is what sets Reinsman apart. The tree is a design I helped develop more than 20 years ago. It fits a wide range of horses, and it works well for me. I love the suede skirts because it keeps the saddle in place and doesn’t roll. There’s a layer of foam padding for my horse’s comfort.” – Charmayne James

Made by Hand in Texas. Every Reinsman Charmayne James barrel saddle has all her essential features to keep you balanced in the seat plus comfort features for your horse.

Charmayne James barrel saddles feature:
• Wood tree designed to fit your horse, provide freedom of movement, and keep you in the proper position
• Neoprene lined skirt with suede skirt liner for horse’s comfort
• Designed with James from the tree out
• Light weight design at approximately less than 30 lbs.
• Flank cinch set included
• Lifetime tree warranty
• Fully customizable from the tree out

Charmayne James is an 11-Time World Champion barrel racer, the first Million Dollar Cowgirl, and has the most consecutive NFR qualifications at 19.

Introducing Team Camarillo Barrel Saddles

Reinsman has worked with champion barrel racer and clinician Sharon Camarillo for many years, and we are so pleased to announce her line of Team Camarillo barrel saddles she’s designed with her daughter Storme Camarillo. Storme and Sharon Camarillo conduct better Barrel Racing clinics worldwide.

Sharon Camarillo is a Multi-National Finals Rodeo Qualifier, National Cowboy Hall of Fame Inductee, and National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Inductee.

Team Camarillo barrel saddles feature:
• A secure seat to stay properly balanced through a powerful turn
• The highest quality saddle in the lightest weight possible
• Narrow seat twist and wide swells to ride effectively
• Fenders are set to help keep the rider’s legs from getting behind and falling forward during a run

Come See Us at the NFR!

Reinsman is headed to Las Vegas for the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR)! Find us at Cowboy Christmas with dealer R Bar B in the South Hall booth 3335 of the Las Vegas Convention Center. We’ll be there Dec. 7-16, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Along with saddles, bits, pads, and tack, our Team Reinsman champions will be making appearances. Be sure to check back because we’ll add their appearance times and other event details. See you there!