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Q. I am planning to do some endurance riding with my part-TB horse and would like to buy a new saddle. Will an ordinary GP be suitable or should I invest in one that has been specially designed to be on the horses back for long periods? What should my priorities be if I want a saddle that I could use for endurance competitions?

A. There are hundreds of saddles on the market, including nowadays many specialist endurance saddles. However, the most important thing about a saddle is that it should fit your horse perfectly and is also comfortable for you to ride in.

I personally think it is most important to look for a good weight-bearing surface, so your weight is distributed over a large area. The spine and withers should have no pressure on them to allow unrestricted movementof the shoulders and the saddle must sit level.

I would always contact a reputable saddler and ask them to bring a selection of saddles. Make sure you sit and ride on each one. Ask the saddler to watch you ride to check there isn’t too much movement on the horse’s back and that it is not slipping backwards or forwards.

You also need to consider if the saddle is right for you – there is nothing worse than spending 12 hours in an uncomfortable saddle. You will not only be very stiff and sore yourself but you will cause back problems for your horse if you’re unable to sit correctly.

I personally find some of the specialist saddles very heavy, but I do like D-rings on my saddle to carry a bag of emergency supplies and water.