Instructions for shaping the template  

Purpose of the template:

The template is designed to make a close likeness to your horses’ back. This will need to be sent onto Germany, to the company that manufactures and supplies the saddles that we sell. Once the template arrives in Germany an experienced template fitter will take your template and photos and try the template in all the trees and saddles to see which ones will offer the best fit.

I will then be contacted to notify me of which trees/saddles are most similar to the template shape. In turn, I will let you know of the choices available. (If you are due a saddle fitting this ensures that we start with the right selection of saddles for your horse.) Once we know which is the right tree, you can either have the saddle that the tree originally is in, or you can choose which saddle you would like built on the tree.

Fitting the template: To fit the template to the horse, first make sure that the horse is standing on level ground, preferably standing square, head and neck straight and neither too high or too low. The front of the template should come over part of the horses shoulder. This is necessary to show the amount of flare needed to allow the shoulder freedom of movement. To do this accurately, please draw a line with chalk behind the shoulder blade The second rib of the template should sit on this line. (Please note that I did not mark Milo with chalk.) Please also mark the last rib clearly so the saddle makers can clearly see where the last rib is in relation to the template.

This is the position the starting template needs to be in


The first thing to shape is the ‘spine’ of the template. I bend the ‘spine’ of the template using my knee, but you might prefer another way. Keep gently shaping until the template ‘spine’ mirrors, as much as possible, the shape of the horses withers and spine.

The ‘spine’ of the template matches the horses spine pretty well


Next I start to shape the ‘ribs’ of the template. I start with the shoulder and work backwards. Try and mould the template ‘ribs’ as closely as you can to your horses shape, ensuring that he/she is standing as described above. Continue shaping all the ‘ribs’ until they are moulded each side as accurately as possible.

I have started to bend the ‘ribs’ of the template


It has been bent this side, now it must be checked for even-ness


Once the template is molded to the horses’ withers, spine, shoulders and ribcage then take each ‘rib’ and place your fingertips together underneath each rib at the top and slide them down to the end. It should feel even all the way down. If it gets tighter towards the end then this will give the impression that your horse is narrower than it really is, and vice versa. The ‘ribs’ should feel like they make contact but do not pinch.

Notice that just the end of the fingertip is under the template, not your whole finger


Take photos with template on and off and from the following angles:

Please note that only the left half of this template is molded to Milo’s back

Please note that only the left half of this template is molded to Milo’s back

Not ideal as he is not looking straight ahead, but you get the idea


Please could you email me details about your horses age, breed, height, rug size, and which models and colours of saddle you like (and don’t like), and your budget. Either email the photos to me (if digital), or enclose them with the template in the box.

Please attach a sturdy label to the template, and on it write:
The Western Saddler - Your Name - Your Horse's Name


Pack it in a box, which gives it good protection. Try and pad out the arch underneath to support the frame. You could use lots of scrunched up newspaper, for example. Make the sure the box is well marked as being fragile and to handle with care. Send it via the Post Office or you could get a quote from or or – I do not use the Post Office as I have found the online companies more competitive.

Addresses to send the template to:

Equiflex Saddles:
Friederike Ohnmacht,
Hi Tack + Saddles GmbH,
D-72813 St.-Johann/Gächingen.

AK Saddles:
AK Saddlery
Joachim Kasper
Gartenstraße 4
D-89584 Lauterach – Talheim.

Please email or phone me when you have sent your template so I know when to contact Friederike or Joachim to find out the results. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes,