HOw to choose the correct saddle - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 10-14-2011, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Wisconsin, USA
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HOw to choose the correct saddle

With so many saddles available, how do you choose? I feel like I am drowning in options and I don't even know where to begin. I know fit to the horse is vital (and I have read threads, blogs, watched videos etc about it), but I don't even know where to begin to try and see if it fits. My main problem is that I have no tack store around. Everything is online. That means ordering it online, waiting for shipping, trying it, mailing it back and paying for return shipping in most instances. That is a lot of time and money. With so many options and no clue what the differences really are, I would end up trying every saddle and shipping every saddle back. I'm excited for the ability to buy a higher quality saddle, but am feeling overwhelmed.

Here is what I know I want/need:
1.) English or english-style saddle, with a tree
2.) Trail or Dressage (not close contact or all purpose) - use will be for trails and endurance when weather permits and dressage and light jumping (2 ft -2ft 3in) when riding indoor
3. Security and comfort without being restricting

I know saddle preference is individual. I guess I am just looking for suggestions on where to begin. There is a Wintec Isabell that my BO has and is going to let me try. I have to change the gullet because it is too narrow with the one in it.

So how do I start? Are certain styles or brands recommended? Every saddle looks very nice online/catalogue and it is hard to tell the minor differences. I also know that fit changes and I may buy one now an dneed to alter or sell it later, but I don't want to buy the first saddle I sit in and like without wosely shopping around. That is how I got my current sadle.

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post #2 of 20 Old 10-14-2011, 05:18 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
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Let me ask you a couple more things so maybe I can suggest some brands or types to you.

Price range?
Leather or synthetic?
Long, short, or average leg? The difference in flap lengths can be frightening.

Also, let me say this-Don't hesitate in emailing the company asking for flap lengths, or other exact measurements. Saves you a return or two.

When I bought my new saddle, my requirements were an adjustable gullet, and a flap short enough for me. After emailing Smartpak, Dover, and Horseloverz for measurements on several saddles, I narrowed it down to my M. Toulouse.

It may take a little longer, but it's worth the more exact results. Plus, you learn a thing or two about certain saddles, so you can answer questions like this.
iridehorses likes this.

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post #3 of 20 Old 10-15-2011, 06:50 AM
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I like DejaVu's answer and would add that since you are apparently boarding, I would look at the saddles of the other boarders as well. Get a feel for the way they look and how the leather feels. Ask if you can sit in them - not necessarily on a horse. Some places will like to see a tracing of your horse's back so that they can measure a saddle to it for you. Try this method of tracing his back

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post #4 of 20 Old 10-15-2011, 10:24 AM
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dont buy a saddle online from any place that doesnt ask for a withers tracing.
Places that ask usually have people that know about their products. You might pay a little more but it is worth it getting it right the first time.
Pics of your horse front, rear, side, top, wither tracing, heart girth measurment, height and breed, then your size, weight, jean size, inseam, shoe size. A good shop can get it right the first time.
Have you considered a Austrailian saddle ? What you said you are looking, English stlye, for trails and endurance has Aussi written all over it.
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post #5 of 20 Old 10-16-2011, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Wisconsin, USA
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Thanks everyone for the responses!

DejaVu -
Price range is negotiable depending on how long I want to wait and save ;) Right now I am hoping not to spend over $1500. I am more than willing to buy used as long as I can find the right thing, but don't want to end up with a bunch of used saddles that I need to resell.

I currently do like the synthetic since the upkeep is minimal. I have never actually sat in a real leather saddle, so my bum doesn't know the difference. Either works though.

I have no clue on flap length. I am really uneducated about the whole saddle thing. I am 5'3 and 115 pounds. I'd say an average leg. Long leg jeans are always waaay too long for me and shorts generally are ankle length.

I do like the changeable gullet. I have heard of Thorogood and Wintec/Bates only with this feature. I will have to look into your brand.

Thanks again! I feel lost in a sea of choices.
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post #6 of 20 Old 10-16-2011, 06:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
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Great hybrid saddles

Combo English/Trail Hybrids- the most comfortable, durable saddle brand I have ever owned and form fit for the horse at a very reasonable price.

You order them mix n match colors- leather, roughout or suede and any combo of them. They have crossfire or english or western rigging. Turned endurance style stirrups or western or english - up to you. Dees and other rings however you want them. They are all under 24lbs.
And you have to send measurements and pics of your horse to get them fit to him. They make gaited and non gaited as well.
It takes a few weeks but well worth it.
Sycamore Creek Saddles
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post #7 of 20 Old 10-16-2011, 08:35 PM
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that is a very nice saddle, but Paso Finos fit a lot differently than many other kinds of horses, and that saddler is a PF saddle maker. I do like the look of both of those saddles.

An Aussie would not be good for jumping. You cannot get forward, and can be hard to post if the polleys are very large.
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post #8 of 20 Old 10-16-2011, 08:54 PM
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Personally I'd take wither tracing and talk to the place selling saddles and allowing trials. I did contact Saddles for Sale | New and Used Saddles | Horse Tack | Saddle Fittings while back: they have used saddles and how to do the tracing (see here Wither Tracings ). They also offer great customer service (I was very pleased).

Another place to contact is Duett Saddles: The Partnership of Horse & Rider

And I remember people on this forum mentioning Classic Saddlery - Quality English Horse Tack & Horse Supplies for the Equestrian. (they also have saddle fitting page).

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post #9 of 20 Old 10-16-2011, 10:50 PM
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It is easy to post in an Aussie saddle. Jumping would be more of a problem, but I'm not sure small jumps would be bad. However, Aussie saddles tend to cost more for a given level of quality.

I'd suggest the OP spend some time reading reviews here:

Close Contact Saddles

All Purpose Saddles

Dressage Saddles

I've never owned one, but the reviews there indicate a Collegiate Convertible Senior Event might be a good all purpose saddle. It also has a 5 star rating at Dover (Collegiate Convertible Senior Event Saddle < Eventing Saddles < Horse Tack|Dover Saddlery.)

I know the OP specified no to AP saddles, but an AP saddle pretty much defines "use will be for trails and endurance when weather permits and dressage and light jumping (2 ft -2ft 3in) when riding indoor". Most of the dressage saddles I've seen look like they would be pee poor for jumping even at 2 feet. I"m not a jumper, but the knee blocks on a lot of dressage saddles look more awkward than poleys on an Aussie saddle...
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post #10 of 20 Old 10-17-2011, 10:18 PM
Join Date: Oct 2011
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I just went through this myself. There is so much information that I had a hard time making sense of it all too!

I found that talking to the people at Dover was very helpful. I did a live-chat with them online. They sent directions on how to do the wither tracing and they also suggested that I take a few pictures of my horse and to be sure to get a picture of that flexible ruler thing that gets used...make sure I took a picture of that on him so that they could tell whether it was in the right place or not. My horse has a huge barrel and very high withers and I have very long legs, so this was tricky. They said it would be a good idea to measure my legs too. I thought the saddle size had to do with the size of my butt, but they said no, it's to do with the length of my femur.

I was lucky because I live close enough to SmartPak that they sent someone out from the store with a bunch of suitable saddles to try. The third one was the charm. I know that they and Dover will both send out saddles for you to try, through the mail, or UPS, whatever.
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