Saddle for Young Mountain Horse - The Horse Forum
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  • 1 Post By Lockwood
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post #1 of 8 Old 12-30-2011, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: North Carolina
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Saddle for Young Mountain Horse

I am having FITS trying to find a saddle for my 3 1/2 year old gaited Mountain Horse. She still has some growing to do, so I do not want to get into a custom saddle. (I am also at the point of not being able to pay more for the saddle than the horse.)

I borrowed a saddle from a friend who is out of town over the holidays, and with a thick wool felt pad we have done o.k.

What do I do when I have to return the borrowed saddle? I thought buying the horse would be the big decision, but it seems like that was the EASY part!

I keep reading that every horse is different, every fit is different, the same terms are used to describe very different saddles. The original plan was to find a used saddle and/or inexpensive saddle online, and use good pads to help while she fills out. But... if every saddle is different, how can this happen? And how do the online saddle companies and eBay types ever sell a saddle?

Just feels like I am missing an important part of this ever growing puzzle.
Help and insights are greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 8 Old 12-30-2011, 07:57 PM
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I was going through the same thing with my new Mountain gelding! None of my three saddles fit him well at all. Couldn't find a good fitting saddle that wasn't sticking out way over his loins because of his super short back, wasn't too narrow for his mutton withers, or wasn't too big to hinder his freedom of movement/gait. It was all new to me as nearly all of my prior horse experience is in vastly different breeds.
Lucky for me I prefer english or Aussie saddles (ie: smaller than those used western behemoths in my price range) not so lucky as I seem to be the only one for 200 miles around here that does. So, no saddles to found anywhere near me. How is a girl to buy something online that she has never seen in person, let alone sat in??

Well this ensued lengthy web research sessions to learn better how mountain horses need to be fitted, how to take wither tracings, measurements, what are wither angles, gullet sizes, tree sizes, tree angles, molds of the back, sweat stains, and which way the wind is blowing during each of these measuring things that need done.
Then I took all of this, plus the fact that any saddle sits differently on different breeds (and horses) and narrowed down my saddle type choices to ohh.... about 20 or 30 different saddles.
Through all my research (especially on the Aussie saddles) I kept reading how good the folks are at DownUnderWeb. Having checked their website numerous time I knew I could get a western, english, and of course an Aussie saddle there without totally draining my wallet. And their videos are very helpful.
So, I finally called DownUnderWeb and talked to a saddle fitter over the phone. About 30 or so seconds into the conversation after I told him my fitting problems he asked what breed my horse was and as soon as I told him he said "ahh, I know exactly what you mean." He assured me that he could help and after I described my horse and his measurements, plus my size and height (to make sure I was thinking correctly on an Aussie size) we went through my list of interested saddles and he told me what would and would not work on my horse. He also told me (based on my riding style preferences we talked about) which saddles I would probably think were more comfy than the others.

He never tried to sell me any particular saddle (as in... one of the really expensive ones) and really listened to what I wanted. I also asked a bazillion questions about the Aussie saddles because I just want to know everything there is to know about them and he patiently talked to me for at least an hour.

If you have an idea of what you want and if they have anything remotely close to it on their website... call them. If nothing else you will gain a better understanding of what your horse needs and how to find it, wherever you choose to look for it.

While I'm waiting for my non-custom, non-budget breaking new Aussie saddle to arrive at least I have way more confidence to be able to shop for used western and dressage saddles anywhere I want to now, so long as I can get answers to my specific measurment questions myself or from from the seller.
I didn't need, nor want a custom saddle for my gelding yet either as I would like to save that for the expensive one I plan to get a few years down the road, plus I'm still recovering from how much he cost!
Now I'm not going to say I got all of this from just one phone call to the saddle place I mentioned above. It was all the research, measurements, local western tack store visits (for them to say "Yup, you need QH bars.") and the phone call that helped me put it all together.

Or perhaps you could just skip all my exercises in research and frustrations and go straight to the phone call. It might really help get you pointed in the right direction.
downunderweb dot com (not affiliated in any way... just happy for their help.)
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post #3 of 8 Old 12-30-2011, 08:47 PM
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most generic, used , and ebay saddles are quarter horse saddles and wont fit. Look for "gaited" saddles at Chicks, and others. You may find a deal on a used gaited tree, tals to and take a wither tracing. they can get you a good fit.
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post #4 of 8 Old 12-30-2011, 09:57 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Illinois
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First of all most mountain horses work best with a round skirt saddle. They really aren't any different than other horse, they either have withers or they don't, which of course is the mutton wither wide backed horse. For a withered horse often you can use an arab or gaited tree, and with a mutton withered horse you are looking more for the wider gullet and a saddle with little rock since they won't have too much of a dip. There are some nice Fabtron brand synthetic saddles and some other brands of synthetic saddles that also fit.

The younger mountain horse is going to be skinny until the age of 5 so I would definitely look for something used that is in decent shape since you will be changing it once the shoulders and back fill out. I am sure some others can recommend some good brands.

A woman can NEVER have too many horses.....
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post #5 of 8 Old 12-30-2011, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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TY to all - it is nice to know that I am not alone, although it would have been nicer to have learned that there is a "perfect" answer to my dilemna.

Lockwood - it looks like we may have done quite a bit of the same research, except I have not gotten up the nerve to pick up the phone. Perhaps that is the next step.

I printed some templates and measured today, and it appears that she is "wide backed" (full quarter horse bars). Daughter took lots of pictures that may help with my conversations with folks. Please keep the suggestions coming!
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post #6 of 8 Old 12-31-2011, 11:13 AM
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I was a little timid about calling too as it is embarrassing to have ridden so many different horses and for as long as I have and to have been bested by one mere Mountain gelding.
But the gentleman I spoke to explained that probably 80% of people who call for fitting help are gaited horse owners with exactly the same questions as me. At one point I asked a specific question (that I thought was silly myself) and he chuckled and said "Ding, you hit my quota for the day." To which I said "Huh???" (yeah, I'm really intelligent and witty that way ) and he explained that he gets asked that question multiple times every single day. He put me right at ease.
Call, you will be glad you did.
Happy New Year!
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post #7 of 8 Old 01-02-2012, 12:48 PM
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My friend just got a really nice Tucker endurance saddle that fits her young, narrow TWH well with a little room to grow. They are expensive..... she got hers barely used on consignment at half price so that might be a good way to go, too. Sounds like to company Lockwood used is a good bet.

Riverside, CA
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-02-2012, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Lauradod View Post

Lockwood - it looks like we may have done quite a bit of the same research, except I have not gotten up the nerve to pick up the phone. Perhaps that is the next step.
You can email them as well. :) You probably don't get as much information that way but it does take the scariness out (it's what I did).
I second DownUnder. I don't have a "real" gaited horse per say, but I do have a gaited Arab mare that's built like the offspring of a halter QH and a table. The first saddle I have ever seen fit her well is the Aussie saddle that I bough from DownUnder. They'll also make the saddle wider, or narrower, for you for free any time within the first year you own it. After that it costs to get it widened but you can get it done pretty easily.

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 01-02-2012 at 01:38 PM.
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