Buying my first endurance saddle- Help with horse fit?

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Buying my first endurance saddle- Help with horse fit?

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  • Horse/ Endurance rider/first place
  • Bighorn saddle 870

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    02-14-2013, 08:21 PM
Green Broke
Buying my first endurance saddle- Help with horse fit?

Hey, guys!

I am looking for my first endurance saddle. I am an endurance virgin (doing my first LD in October), but am ready to invest in a saddle now for numerous reasons.

I need a 15", don't care if it's synthetic, don't care if it's the prettiest thing in the world. I can spend about $600 on the saddle, preferably new for convenience reasons but am semi-open to used. I know it limits my options but it's all I can do. I don't know much about treeless but am willing to look into it if you guys think it would work for us.
I've looked at a ton of saddles that I like (Abettas, Big Horns, etc).

The hard part: Trying to fit my TB. I've been doing research, but I'm still lost. I took pictures today so hopefully you guys can help me out.
I found a western saddle in the tack room and measured it and stuck it on her. I have NO idea how to measure a western saddle's bars or gullet or whatever (and I was doing it one-handed to boot), so I did my best and hopefully the picture will help.
As you can see, it was right on top of her withers, literally touching them.
And before anyone asks, no, there isn't a tack shop I can try from, sadly.

So if you guys can help I'd really appreciate it. Let me know if I left out any info.
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    02-14-2013, 08:33 PM
Super Moderator
That saddle is NOT for you! See how the arch of the fork is almost sitting smack dab on top ofher wither bones? Once you are in the saddle, it will become a torture device for your darling mare.
It is actually too wide, believe it or not. The angle of the bars is also too flat, such that the top part digs into her shoulders, while the bottom part of the bar angles too far out. She needs a narrower saddle with a more upright bar.
Try a semi qh bar, perhaps.
jillybean19 and Boo Walker like this.
    02-14-2013, 08:43 PM
Green Broke
Oh, I would NEVER ride in that saddle. EVER.

It was just a reference pic so people could see what this size tree/bar/gullet/whatever looked like on her, giving an idea of her size. I should have enphasized that in my OP.

I have been thinking of a SQHB. Big Horn makes a model in that size. Thanks for the post!
    02-14-2013, 09:22 PM
One of my very-experienced endurance friends has been doing this sport double the time I've been walking this earth, and after trying many saddles, Big Horns are her saddle of choice. She's never really had a problem with them fitting horses unless they're too round and the saddle bridges, though minor bridging problems can be fixed with a good pad. If you can find one to set on your horse, I recommend doing so.

I'm no expert, but here's how I was told to check my saddle for fit: Set it on the horse without the pad. Look down the gullet and make sure there's good clearance. Check that the angles of the bars look even on your horse. Slide your hand under the saddle and make sure there's even pressure and no pinching - You may even need to put a few pounds of pressure on the saddle and check that you can still slide your hand underneath evenly. I did this with one saddle - as soon as I put any pressure in the seat, it pinched down so hard on the withers I couldn't get my hand under the front of the bars at all while I could still slip it under the rest of the tree easily. Shine a flashlight up under the fender and see if you can see a lot of light in the gullet (checking for bridging - you'll have to do this on a cloudy day, indoors, or, like me, and throw a blanket over the back of the saddle to prevent other light from getting in. There can be a little bit of light, but there shouldn't be a whole lot). You can reach your hand down the gullet and check for bridging from that direction as well.

These are the pictures from when I checked my Big Horn for saddle fit, and everyone said it seemed to be a good fit! Trail of Hoof Prints: New saddle!
    02-14-2013, 10:04 PM
Just found this on Ebay. Might be what you are looking for. Caldwell Endurance Saddle Custom Made Very Nice Light Weight Short Skirt | eBay

Or this. Used Big Horn Endurance Saddle Retail 870 00 Light Weight Big Horn Horse Saddle | eBay

I know you are looking for new, but there are some very well cared for used saddles out there.
    02-14-2013, 10:25 PM
Super Moderator
I just realized that my Sharon Saare endurance saddle might actually fit your horse. It needs a hrose with a more sloped back (I mean , I guess it's called "slab sided"?) Your horse is narrower than mine, and more upright angle of shoulder and even the back area falls away from her spine more angled, rather than flat.
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    02-14-2013, 10:32 PM
Even though that last listing says it retails for $870, you can find that saddle new for around $550

Here are a few links:

New Big Horn 120 Endurance Western Saddle 15" Semi QH Bars CLOSEOUT | eBay

Big Horn Cordura Endurance Saddle 117, 118, 119 And 120 -
    02-14-2013, 10:37 PM
Super Moderator
I mentioned that Sharon Saare becuase it IS for sale (hint hint)
Eolith and nvr2many like this.
    02-15-2013, 09:43 AM
Green Broke
Thanks so much for everyone's replies!

The reason I prefer new is simply because I want to be able to return it if it doesn't fit instead of having to deal with resale.

Tiny, your saddle is lovely.

I also went, "What?" when it said the Big Horn retailed for over $800. LOL.

I think the Big Horn 120 is looking to be the one closest to what we are looking for. The ebay listing had some good shots that showed that saddle's angle, important because Sunny has quite a bit of angle to her.

Thanks again, guys. I really appreciate everyone's help.
    02-15-2013, 11:11 AM
I rather like the look of that saddle of yours tinyliny! ^_^ I'll be doing a bit of saddle shopping for my mustangs soon, so I might just be in touch with you.

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