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Discuss Help for finding a saddle to fit my hard to fit horse? Thanks! at the Tack & Equipment forum - Horse Forums.

My little (14.3 hands) grade gelding has a hard to fit shape, it seems. He ...
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    Help for finding a saddle to fit my hard to fit horse? Thanks!

    My little (14.3 hands) grade gelding has a hard to fit shape, it seems. He has a very short back, high withers, broad, deep shoulders and round barrel/well sprung ribs. Ok, let's say a hay belly that makes him look preggo. LOL!

    Now to complicate things I'm not so svelte myself, and need a 16 inch western seat.

    My ideal would be to find an old fashioned used saddle with a rawhide covered wooded tree for him and me... nothing fancy, just super comfortable and well made. I love and adore the old tex tans but the one I had just didn't fit him. I realise I'm unlikely to find one to fit. :-(

    There seem to be these choices for a hrose with a real short back:

    Barrel saddles, even with the round skirts, most are still too long. Total length of the saddle must be 24 inches or less. If they are short enough they have smaller seats (like 14 inches). Also, the seat itself is *very* high in the front. I prefer a more balanced seat.

    Arabian saddles: I would buy one of these if I thought it would fit his high withers. His shoulders are broad but the previous owners say he goes best in semi-QH bars. I have read that an arabian western saddle has a "flatter pitch" than a regular western saddle which is built for a quarterhorse. I have no idea what this means or if it would fit my horse. I hope someone here could help explain this. :-)

    Gaited saddles: I am opposed to a flex-tree and most of them seem to have that. Also, most are still too long even though they are made for horses with shorter backs?

    Endurance/australian: This is what I'm leaning towards, hopefully one with a solid western tree. Most are a little out of my price range. I might have to save up for one. Maybe even a custom one like Desoto?

    Treeless: I'm opposed to treeless, I feel like I may as well just ride bareback, which I am doing now! :-)

    English: again, I prefer to have my weight distributed by a solid western tree that fits. The question is: can I find one that fits? If not, this may be my only choice.

    Any other ideas? Thanks so much! :-)

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    I personally think that for short backed issues, it's actually much easier to fit a western saddle than an english.

    If he has wide withers, then he needs a wide tree, regardless of anything else. Now there are some 'nuances' such as flair and angle that come into play as well. But these are secondary considerations (though still very important).

    Do you have a picture of him so we can get a better idea of the issues you're dealing with?

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    Don't know your price range, but the 16 inch saddle on this site has a 22 inch tree: www.specializedsaddles.com

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    Thanks Dawn, I thought that for high withers you need a narrower tree?

    This is all kind of confusing! :-) I have a pic of him in my profile.

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    The only thing affected by wither height is how much clearance there is at the front of the saddle. You don't fit the withers, you fit the shoulders and back.

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    Thanks for the link. I don't have that much money right now but I can save. :-) I will check them out. :-)

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    Hi, I had a somewhat similar problem.

    My mustang is extremely short coupled, wide broad back, and mutton withered.

    I rode for a while in a wintec barrel racing saddle, because it was affordable, and compact, so it didn't rub out his hips. But I really wanted a leather saddle with more traditional square skirting, and I hated the high pommel and cantle of the barrel saddle.

    I found this company: http://www.libertyleather.com/saddlecat.htm
    they represent Dakota saddles - not the fanciest or best brand out there, but serviceable and worth the $$ imho. I've had my saddle about 10 years and its still going great.

    I got a custom made saddle for around $700 including shipping... I have the 210c roper, 15" seat... they customized the length of the skirting for me too and it fit great. took a few months to have built. Might be worth chatting to someone that represents a modestly priced saddlery like Dakota and see if what you're trying to find is doable.

    good luck.

    if you doubt your own capacities, the horse will doubt them too óDESMOND


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    Quote Originally Posted by catbird321 View Post
    I thought that for high withers you need a narrower tree?
    For high withers you need a higher pommel, to give wither clearance. The tree should fit the horse's back and just behind the shoulders. Your boy will likely need a Full QH bar or wide tree.

    You might look in to synthetics, like Big Horn or Abetta. Their round skirt saddles are short and they come in wide trees. There are also afordable semi-custom saddles out there, as mentioned in the post above. You'll just have to do some digging to find them.

    You say treeless is like riding bareback, but I can tell you frm personal experience it is not. If you get the ride saddle and pad combo, it's very secure and very comfortable. I have put near beginners on my treeless and they did great! I use a Bob Marshall, which would likely be too long for your horse in the seat size you need. If you're not opposed to the "look", you might consider a Barefoot, Torsion, or TreeFree saddle. They are more English-y looking, but all shorter in length. Another option, for a more western look would be the FreeWest or Startekk Western saddles.

    I ride my Bob Marshall with a Skito pad and a ThinLine pad (one of the plain rubbery looking ones, on top of the Skito) and find the combo GREAT! I am a heavy rider and have no problems with mouting (did have to change my procedure a bit) and have great stability when in the saddle in all directions (as much or maybe even more stability than the Abetta Endurance saddle I used to ride in). I do use an over-the-neck aussie style breast color for trail riding, "just-in-case" for the hills we do, but it doesn't seem like we really need it. It's the MOST comfortable saddle I have ridden in, and all the horses I have tried it on so far seem to like it too. I did have to use some shims in my Skito pad for my high withered and slab sided horse, but with the right shims, it worked like a charm! It works great without any special shims on my flat backed and moderate withered Appy mare.

    Here's an interesting article on Treeless saddles recently published on Equisearch.
    http://equisearch.com/advice/expert/...le_fit_020208/
    The issue they talk about with a wide horse and getting your leg in a good position can be rectified with the ride saddle pad. Skito treeless pads can come with "laminated foam", which adds a second piece of tapered foam on the top of the base piece, which sets the midding of your saddle higher, created a "twist" underneath you (like how a fixed treed saddle would prop you up).

    All good treeless dealers do have demo programs, so you can try things out before jumping in. Just be sure to get a variety of pads and girths to try, and call or email often to work through any questions you have in the process. Treeless saddles can be a godsend for hard to fit horses, but, they aren't for every horse and rider. I would certainly keep them in mind as you search for a saddle. If you can't find a treed saddle that works for you both, then you might come back to this thread and consider a treeless.
    Arete Stables
    "To be an equestrian in the classical sense is not just to be a rider. It is a position in life."
    --Charles de Kunffy

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