How do I measure my horse for bar angles?
We are no longer building saddle trees. We have two saddle fit videos available on our westernsaddlefit.com website. Western Saddle Fit - The Basics, aimed at riders, is available either on DVD or streaming on Vimeo while the six hour series Well Beyond the Basics, aimed more for professionals but understandable by anyone, is available by streaming on Vimeo. (We left this website up because we have had many requests to keep the information available.)
We occasionally hear of people using protractors to try and measure angles off their horse and correlate them to bar angles on saddle trees. You just can’t do that – and here’s why…
Basically, you cannot measure a single angle off a curved surface. Each of these angles is real, and they all come from the same surface.
Same on a horse. The angle is 43 degrees,
No wait, it’s 33 degrees.
Hold it, now it’s 53 degrees. So, what is the real “angle”? Any and all of the above.
Now on a loin like this, you might be able to measure a set angle.
But then you are fitting that loin with a rounder crown like this, which you can’t measure. (Why? Well, we discussed that here.) So you still can’t match angles.
Hold on, you say. The loin isn’t where we measure anyway. It’s the wither area that is important. Well, the same principle applies. It is just harder to demonstrate.
I can measure this angle at the withers.
And I can measure this angle at the withers
Which would you say matches best? And which angle belongs to which picture?
Both measure the horse under the front bar pad, but there is a ten degree spread between them, and you can measure anywhere in between and beyond them as well. The fact is that “90 degrees” is NOT a measurement off the horse.
It is a measurement we put on the back of the fork when we build it.
And as we discuss more in our Bar Angles, Why the Numbers Are Meaningless Between Makers page, even 90 degrees isn’t 90 degrees when you add another dimension to it, like we do when we lean the forks ahead. And that leaned angle changes not only between leaned ahead and stood up forks, but between makers. Every tree maker does things differently, you know…
But just as important, or even more so, is that the cuts on the bars where the forks are attached are not the same “angle” as the edge of the bottom of the bar. The way the edges are marked out on the bars sets how the bottom of the bar are “angled” compared to the cut surface.
But the edges don’t tell you what the crown on the bottom of the bar is like. And once again, you have curved surfaces so you can’t measure an angle there either…
Measuring a horse with a protractor doesn’t give you any practical, usable information. The most common bar angles drawn on the back of the forks by hand made tree makers have a three to five degree range. Trying to measure a horse at any one point can easily give you a ten degree plus variation. And it is all meaningless anyway since you can’t compare that to anything on a tree. In practice, the terminology of degrees is more a title or description than a measurement. You can’t measure it on a tree, and you sure can’t measure it on a horse...
Your blog helps me better understand things I may have heard before & didn't quite grasp, & things I never knew in the first place.
I like that.
p.s. If 'The Kid' will be carrying on your business, that'd be wonderful.
p.p.s. Every time I want to comment, your screen capture balogna tells me I'm an idiot 3 or more times before it will let me. I hate when a machine tells me I'm a dumbass....