Sarah Linton

Taking a wither trace

Taking a wither pattern is very easy to do and can help you so much when searching for a saddle. It is also a very good tool to monitor your horses' back to see exactly how much it changes shape. For horses with a lot of muscle wastage its great to see proof of how much your horse improves with a well fitting saddle, exercises and a correct training program. It also allows you to assess how much your horses change throughout the season. This is normal all horses change shape sometimes as much as 3 times during the year depending on their condition.

Wither trace instructions

1.) First of all you need to go to your stationery store and buy a flexi curve. Around 30 - 40 cm is ideal. Flexi curves are a tech drawing tool and are perfect for taking a with pattern. You also need a sheet of card (at least A4 size), a marker pen and scissors.

2.) Before starting mark on the flexi curve -in permanent marker pen -left and right and also mark the center of it as well. You can then put the center of the curve directly on the top of the wither and not forget which side you were looking at :o)

3.) Ask your horse to stand square and ideally have someone holding his head lined up with the center of his chest - to not off to one side or turning round to look at what you are doing!

4.) Find the back of the horses' scapula or shoulder blade. Allow a hands width or around 2 1/2 to 3 inches behind the shoulder then put your flexi curve over the horses' wither. Make sure you have it on the side thats marked on the flexi curve and line up the center on the wither. Check that you have it following the contour of the horses shape and the bottom of it facing straight down to the ground. If you need help checking the other side get your assistant to hold it while you go around the other side and check its right.

5.) Carefully lift it off the horse and place it down on the card. Lining it up with the bottom of the card - trace around the inside edge of it.

6.) Mark the centre line on it and left and right and also put the horses' name and the date. Cut carefully around the edge of the tracing.

7.) You now have the perfect pattern of your horses' wither that you can use to help you find a saddle. You can also trace around it a fax a copy to saddlery shops so they know what shape your horse is.

8.) You can also take a pattern off the back of the saddle area doing it exactly the same way. Find the last rib and follow it up as far as you can and then measure approximately 2 inches in front of that or basically around the back of the saddle area. Put your flexi curve over the horses back and take your measurement following the instructions above. This will give you an idea of the angles of the panels that you need at the back of your saddle area.