Your saddle looks nice! Much more cozy and secure than mine. I actually haven't done a "real" ride in it, but it fits me well enough and fits my horse better than a plethora of other saddles I have tried on him. What kind is yours? I'm not exactly in the market but if someone offered I just may trade my Crosby for something more appropriate.
Here's a photo of it:
As you can see there is not much to it. Would a lengthened leather with an endurance style stirrup function ok? I don't care very much if it looks silly. Is there any padding that can go over the leathers?
Heya, just butting in here and haven't read everything on the thread. I used to ride endurance and always did it in English saddles. I'm going to be blunt though and tell you why I wouldn't ride in this one. Two reasons:
1) Rider comfort: This saddle doesn't have a deep seat, and doesn't have nice soft leather cushioning at the knees. It's not the sort you can spend hours in comfortably on trails.
And, more importantly:
2) Horse comfort: This saddle has insufficient surface area to distribute rider weight comfortably across the horse's back, something that is so important on long rides. Its cut also looks restrictive to the horse's shoulder movement without providing much knee support to the rider.
Would you not buy yourself a nice ergonomic wide-strapped backpack with hip strapping and back cradle if you were going to hike regularly with heavy loads, rather than suffer with an old school bag or rucksack with narrow shoulder straps only?
I get that budgets can be restrictive, but you could get something so much more comfortable than that for the both of you second-hand under the guidance of a professional fitter, without the huge outlay of new. I recommend contacting one.
If you're usually a Western rider, you could also try an Australian stock saddle as a compromise. They are much lighter than Western, and designed for long hours of work for horse and rider.
I ride a lot of trails on my current horse and have an Ascot Romana AP, which is the most comfortable saddle I've ever had for myself or any horse. It was professionally adjusted to the horse (gullet, stuffing) and that was really important. It is deep-seated and designed cleverly to be off the horse's shoulder so as not to restrict the horse's movement, while providing lots of comfortable and secure knee support for the rider. I wish I had had this arrangement for my endurance mare 20 years before, but the technology wasn't there yet and we played around with sheepskin saddlecloths to try to get a less perfectly fitted saddle more comfortable for the horse.
Oh, and I pretty much always ride dressage length stirrups, it's more comfortable.