So I just ordered an Australian saddle since they seem like they might be my best bet for a saddle that will actually fit Lacey's wide flat back.
Only problem? I've never ridden in an Australian saddle before or even seen one in real life before.
I think that I'll enjoy it though because I've spent the majority of the 14 years I've been riding, riding english and loving it. I just had to switch to western with Lacey because english saddles fit her, as a general rule, even worse than western ones do (and we do a lot of trail riding where a little more security in the saddle is nice).
However, I know nothing about what kind of pad to use etc. Is a breast collar a must or will I be ok over most terrain without one? Is it "proper" to neck rein or is it like english where direct reining is "proper"?
Is there anything specific to Aussie saddles that I should know?
The one I bought doesn't have an over girth, thank goodness! It just needs a dressage girth (how do I measure for that since it's coming with one but I'm betting it won't be the right size).
I'm really excited! It should be here in about 2 weeks.
I'm very happy for you! I had a Wintec that was fabulous and oh so comfy! Only sold it so I could get a saddle to show WP. I used a dressage pad and it fit good. There are Australian saddle pads, too. You can try downunder.com they have a lot of stuff, not real cheap but great quality.
I ride western, so when I ride in my Aussie saddle I just ride. However that doesn't necessarily mean I neckrein. That depends on the horse I am riding. ;) If that horse neckreins that's what we do, if not then we direct rein.
Can't help with the girth measurement, but once you get the saddle you can see how to measure if the one coming with doesn't work. Pads? They make Aussie pads, but you can use whatever you like. A Dressage pad should work ok.
Some of the answers depend on which saddle you bought.
I use a wither pad with my Australian style saddle. It is a more standard version with the Aussie girth. With my Arabians, the wither pad (Fleece Western Wider Wither Pad - Statelinetack.com) gets the saddle up off their withers. I guess that means it doesn't fit just right, but the horses ride well when I use the wither pad.
Some of the versions that use a dressage girth recommend having a thicker pad under the saddle. Mine is supposed to be good with the standard cotton English saddle pad, but I prefer a Navaho blanket.
I don't see why you would need a breast collar. All the reining functions remain the same on the trail. A snaffle is still a snaffle, a sidepull halter is still a sidepull halter, and neck reining still works if the horse knows how.
Some Aussie saddles expect you to ride with feet forward, while others are designed for heels under the hip.
I like them. As best I can tell, my mare prefers riding in the Aussie, while the gelding likes the Circle Y better - although both can be ridden in either.
I like Australian stirrup leathers. I use mine with western stirrups (2.5 inch neck). They seem to swivel around less than the 1" English leathers do. The are designed to come off if your foot gets caught, and it seems to me the design might be a bit iffy for going up a steep hill - my stirrup leathers will come off very easily, much more so than on my English saddle. That is good or bad, depending...
But there is enough variation that it is a bit like asking, "What is a western saddle like?"
Posting this picture just because I like it. Notice most of the guys are riding with their feet further into the stirrup than most Americans do, and a 'chair seat' is accepted as normal. Also notice the poleys are parallel to the thigh - that is how it is intended. About a finger width of gap.
This picture is just for historical comparison with the old west (Charles Myers cutting animals out from the herd. LS Ranch, Texas, 1907):
I got a Kimberly Synthetic Endurance saddle. Hopefully it'll be ok. I got one of the "clearance" ones that apparently has a small rip that doesn't effect the saddle really so I'm hoping that's actually true.
Most of my questions are ones that can only be answered through actual experience, but yknow, I thought I'd ask them anyway. Haha
The thing about neckreining is that when someone is riding english, they don't neckrein even if their horse knows how so I was just checking that it's not the same sort of situation for Aussie saddles too. Haha
And thinking about it, I actually do have a dressage pad I can use, a navaho blanket I could use and a western pad so I guess whatever thickness I need, I can make happen.
Proper is what works for you and your horse, I think people get to caught up in proper this and proper that, just enjoy the ride. Aussi and western saddles come in different size shapes and trees, hopefully you got the right match for your horse. You can sit it like english or relax in it like a western. I know I would have hit the dirt several times if it wasnt for mine, I have two that are very similar, a flat back tree and a medium, If you delt with Downunder saddelry, the lady there asks your waste, jean size, inseam, shoe size to get correct stirrups, height and weight, pictures of horse, wither tracing, height , heart girth, its a little more trouble but the right saddle will show up with the right girth, they even sent along a DVD with good instructions on how to ride and tack up. Its worth the little bit extra to deal with people that know what they are doing as opposed to a discount house.
Greetings from Aus, suppose I am qualified to answer this from a "Genuine" viewpoint lol... These are often used on stockhorses so you often see them with the green and yellow aussie stockhorse traditional blanket under it. Most people here who use them just use a dressage saddlecloth of their personal choosing. If it fits then it shouldn't really matter what you get - it will only need risers etc if they are needed to adjust the fit.
In terms of neck reining, whatever you like. I think a lot of people just use whatever is most convenient and comfortable at the time and it really depends on the horse they are on and what they are doing - ie it would be different campdrafting to dressage etc =] Just do what you feel like and you are your hrose are comfortable with. Good luck!
Really its just like a normal saddle. Just use it how you would any other.
Remember that stock saddles can be just as difficult to fit as any other english saddle, so check the fit and everything first. Make sure it doesn't rock, whenever I seem to try a stock saddle it doesn't fit and rocks, but I've never noticed that with other english saddles.
Unless the saddle slips you shouldn't need a breastplate.
I hope you enjoy your saddle! When you are used to them they are pretty secure. You feel invincible!