Proper saddle position will have the saddle placed on the horse's back so that the cinch (girth) falls about four inches behind the elbow. It's very common for riders to place the saddle too far forward, causing soreness and constricting the horse's movement, and also putting the rider out of position. A saddle placed too far back will place the rider's weight on the horse's loins, causing discomfort and impairing movement. These problems can be misinterpreted as a saddle fit issue, when the saddle is not to blame.
The best saddling technique is to place both the pad and saddle slightly in front of the final position and then slide both backwards into place by holding onto the horn (or pommel) and jiggling the saddle from side to side and back. The saddle will usually settle into the correct spot, but check to see by checking the cinch position. Then lift the pad up into the gullet to make sure it's not putting pressure on the horse. This saddling technique will place the saddle in the proper position, leave the horse's hair lying in the right direction, and prevent bunching of the pad.
Evaluating your saddling technique and saddle position is a good first step in diagnosing saddle fit issues.
Beth Stefani is the publisher of the Western-Saddle-Guide.com. Whether you're just starting out with horses or a seasoned horseman, the Western Saddle Guide provides all the information you need to understand, choose, and care for the saddle that's right for you.