Borrowing saddles with various trees, semi qh, qh or wide/full is a good inexpensive way to find something that's a better fit. Poor saddle fit can cause a horse to alter his gaits, especially if the saddle is digging into the trapezius muscles which are responsible for lifting the front legs.
I got a chance to borrow a Western saddle (which is what I ride) to test it on my horse. On one side it fit like a dream, but the thing was so low quality that they tree was not straight and did not fit at all on the other side.
The problem is that, at least around here, Saddlebreds are not a breed of choice for anythign other than the show ring. As the closest thing to showing I do is the occasional medieval recreation, those are not the people I 'hang' with or stable with. I am sure there is not a person here who does not understand that trail riders and show riders do not mix will at a boarding facility.
The stable I am at is all AQHAs, paints, and appy's (thought the appy crosses are with Fresion and Oldenberg???).
Yadlim, your horse will not rack at the same time as doing other gates. If he is five gaited, he will walk, trot, canger, slow gait and rack. He might go into a rack from other gaits however and if he is moving along fast enough. Have someone video him while you are riding, so we can see what he is actually doing.
Saddlebreds are notoriously prone to sway backs and especially as they age. Is he sway-backed at all? That might be the problem with the saddle. But I find it strange that all of a sudden he didn't wish to be saddled, without showing any signs of discomfort before.
With a Saddlebred, one usually puts the saddle on the horse, a little (little) further back than on other horses. I always rode mine English. If you do get an Aussie, make absolutely sure it is made by a reputable company. Thousands here are made in India and are not suitable for most horses in the US. I never tried a western saddle on a saddlebred.
Don't know why people might be a little snobby about Saddlebreds. They do just about anything other breeds do - and of course a little more, since they are gaited. And not all of them gait. Most need careful training to gait properly, or they have what I call 'busy feet' and it's hard to know what they are doing.
I have to wait until I have a saddle that I can ride him in before I can ask him to gait to video... but as soon as I do, I will! I am quite sure we are not doing it right. He has never been taught to gait, but will 'fall into it' when he wants to go faster and I require him to collect.
He has gotten a bit sway - he will be 14 this year so we expect his back to change shape, especaily as his back is so very long. He is actually about a foot longer then the Appy/Fresian who is just one inch shorter! His back used to be complete flat, which I took to be his 1/2 Arab ancestory. It has only been in the last couple years that I have noticed that his withers now stick up about three inches - but , after two months of not using my saddle on him, his back has rebounded about half that distance.
His back as a four year old....
His back three weeks ago....
The saddle issues were not all of a sudden. I just responded the the first time he complained. What is important to note here is that I am broken - if surgery this spring does not help, I will be in a wheelchair within the next year or two. Just to ride takes four to six vicaden taken two before, and two after - sometimes with two more an hour later. The only way for me to ride is for my horse to take special care of me - which he does willingly.
He has been having dry spots under the saddle pad for a couple of years which we have been trying to mitigate with shims and pads. He has not complained because I am the only one who rides in a saddle. My daughter rides him bareback. I am pretty sure that if I had been saddleing him that day instead of her, he woudl not have complained.
I am sure it has gotten lost in the thread, but his total complaint was one head toss.
I will hopefully be getting a new saddle within the next month... Until then my daughter rides him and I have been doing lots of grooming and lunging.
If you are using a western saddle, what size tree is it? From the look of his back I would say the regular 3/4 tree would fit. Maybe a wintic all purpose dressage saddle would be better, if you can ride with one. His back does not look that bad in the pic, are you using draw reins or a martingale? Maybe that is why he was head tossing, and he may need his teeth floated !
I have been using a Circle Y Parka and Trail, semi-quarter tree on him. I actually had it professionally fit to him as four year old. What these pics don't show is that his shoulders are built like a friggen tank and are actually wider than his barrel - yes, he is a bit, um, fluffy, but he has a better attitude that way. I tried to find a rib a couple months ago, and failed!
I know his head is down, but you can see how wide his withers are.
You can see him move a bit in this really bad video.... click on the pic and it will open in a new window. It was taken the same day as the pic above. He is not gaiting in it, but you can see his bulky shoulders.
His dad, who was full Saddlebred, looked just like him. A friggen TANK of a horse - his mom was an Arab mare. Here is the only pic I have of his sire, Norsk's Wheeler Dealer.
The dry spots under the saddle guarantee that my saddle does not fit. I am quite sure that if he were not already white, he would have white hairs from it.
We ride him in a medium port western curb with a roller and grazing shanks - but we are going to have to switch for a bit to something with some stopping power as he has been taking off with my daughter lately - I am looking for the same mouth piece, just straighter and longer shafts. The bit is only engaged for collection and emergency stop - all other commands are leg and seat pressure - yes, I can run a barrel pattern at a canter bridleless. As there is almost never any bit contact, he never tosses his head.
The head tossing happened while my daughter (20 years old) was cinching him up. He was ground tied in a halter and lead line. Everyone who was in the barn looked at him, as it was so out of place for him to do, and commented that he said 'ouch, that saddle hurts'.
As for an english saddle - um, no. I use a saddle because my balance and leg stregnth is not good enough to ride bareback. I need something that will keep me on the horse when my since of verticle tweeks one way or the other by ten degrees - which it does all the time. I also need a saddle horn to pony the filly off of when we go trail riding. She has another year before she is going to be started under saddle so has another year of being ponied.
I actually prefer to ride in a Western Aussie, but he quit liking that saddle about four years ago. Saddness.
My old gelding was an arab/saddlebred cross (3/4 arab and 1/4 saddlebred) that was a PITA to fit a saddle to. He had the broad shoulders of an arab but the high, narrow saddlebred withers. An Aussie saddle actually fit him reasonably well, but if we went western, the saddle had to have an arab tree on it or else he was a monster. Full quarter horse bars were okay as long as the tree was at the wider end of what's considered FQHB, otherwise he was a jerk.