Talc tests and Ridden tests are inexpensive and very good assessment tools for looking at saddles. If the talc test is really bad there is no point in doing a ridden white sheet/pad ridden test. You should always do a ridden test before buying a saddle, not just looking at it on the horse on its own. A ridden test really shows how the saddle fits while the horse is moving.
1.) Get your horse standing as square as you can. This is important as it will affect your talc test if he isnt standing square.
2.) Put a layer of talc on your horses back from just in front of the back of the shoulder around the back of the saddle area. The area covered needs to be longer than the length of your saddle.
3.) Carefully sit your saddle straight down onto where it should sit. Try not to move it at all.
4.) Check either side to see that it is sitting evenly
5.) Carefully lift it off the horse's back without scuffing the talc
6.) Have a look at the horses' back and see where exactly the saddle was sitting. Check that there is plenty of clearance either side of the spine and either side of the wither
7.) Have a look at the panels on the saddle:
a.) Is the talc sitting evenly distributed along the center of the panels?
b.) Is the talc rolling over the inside edge of the panels?
c.) Is the talc more to the outside edge of the panels?
d.) Is there bridging? (Contact front and back but none in the middle)
8.) Give the saddle fitting assessor your findings - take a photo, or take note of what's going on.
1.) Mark on the horses back the back edge of scapula and last rib with wet colored chalk. Make sure the horse is standing square in front when you do this. I mark this because it will show up on the pad test and will tell you exactly where the back of the scapula is, if the saddle has moved forward and help you position the saddle correctly. It also helps me when Iím making shims for helping the saddle fit.
2.) Lightly but evenly cover horses back with colored chalk, clay or colored talc from back edge of scapula to last rib, above the shelf of the ribs (back muscle area). I make colored chalk and have it for sale if you canít find something to use.
3.) With horse standing square get white sheet/pad and carefully place on horses back in correct position without having to move it to much.
4.) Carefully - with another person if required on other side to help you - place saddle in correct position on horses back without moving it around but do make sure from of pad is lifted a little at the front so it doesn't sit right down on the wither. Also lift the back slightly as well.
5.) Girth up as usual using girth strap holders on blanket if you have them. Tie the saddle blanket or white sheet at the front if you can as well so it doesn't move.
6.) Carefully or with another person holding other side of saddle stand on mounting block and get on without moving saddle too much.
7.) Go for a ride doing everything you would normally do for at least 15 -20 minutes up to half an hour. If you ride for too long is just blends in the colored talc and is not as accurate. Make sure that it is the rider who usually rides this horse and in this saddle otherwise again Ė it will not be as accurate. Every one rides differently.
8.) When you get back vault off horse. You don't want to move the saddle too much.
9.) Undo girth and untie the front of the saddle blanket and if needed - with someone holding other side of saddle carefully lift off saddle.
10.) Carefully lift off saddle blanket.
11.) Look at the horses back to see what talc has been left behind. Are there any scuffing marks? What does the contact look like either side of the wither? Take pictures of the back if sending off for assessment.
12.) Read saddle blanket patterns. You are looking for even contact the whole way through. Darker areas will tell you there is more contact and lighter areas will tell you there is less contact. Take pictures of saddle blanket if sending off for assessment.
13.) Give this to your saddle fitting assessor to assess and discuss you findings.
NOTE: You can also do a ridden test by putting on a clean cotton saddle blanket that you usually use and going for a ride for an hour or so and if the horse has enough dirt in his coat it will show up where the pressure areas are. Iím happy to look at dirty saddle blanket photos for you as long as they havenít been used on multiple horses.From left to right:Even pad test; even pad test; pressure at back pad test