I know the importance of having a well-fitted saddle for the horse, but I'm wondering now if it's possible to have a too-big saddle for us.
I bought my really good, leather, high-quality used saddle for my horse when I bought her. It has a 15" seat, I believe (I don't think I went with a 16), and it is big (and heavy) and deep and so secure that it is pretty well impossible to come out of (indeed, I haven't yet in the two years I've been using it).
Then, more recently, I came into possession of my sister's old, beat up "tester" saddle that has really seen some years. It's certainly the least aesthetically pleasing saddle you could imagine, it's curling and worn, has no fancy trimmings and, compared to my other saddle, as light as a feather. However, I just feel more...right in this saddle, moreso than the other.
The big saddle is great and secure and makes you feel safe, but I feel kind of...restricted in it, if that makes sense. In the little saddle, I just feel more active and in control, even if the saddle itself is not as deep and secure. I don't know what seat size the little saddle is, but it's definitely smaller, and it feels more suited to me.
I don't really know what the point of this thread was, except to ask: is it really possible to have a TOO big saddle (for you)? I don't know what I'm going to do with the big saddle-I've taken to riding in the smaller one all the time, no matter what horse I ride, but I'm not sure if I should sell it or keep it. Perhaps I could sell it and get an equally nice saddle, but with a smaller seat? I'm not sure...I really like the saddle, I like how secure it feels, but it's hard for me to really ride in it.
Yes, it is quite possible to have a saddle that is too big for you. I rode in one not too long ago.
I went on a trail ride on one of the BO's dude string horses, Reno. Reno has a saddle that is specifically his and it is a monster. It's even too big for our 6'4" BO. But, it is the only saddle that fits Reno, so it's the saddle that they use. When I rode in that saddle, there was a good 8" between my crotch and the pommel. I'm used to the more standard fist width (which is about 3" or so) between crotch and pommel. I was all over the place in that saddle. The stirrup holes are spaced about 5" apart, so on one setting, the stirrups were 1" too long, but on the next one up, they were 3" too short (felt like a freakin' jockey with them up there!). So, I rode in a ginormous saddle (we measured it today and it is a 21" saddle!...I'm most comfortable in a 15.5-16"), with too-long stirrups, on a horse with awful, bumpy gaits...on a two hour trail ride over unfamiliar terrain (lots of hills and even some boulders we had to scramble over). The saddle seat itself was actually fairly comfortable, I just couldn't stay in it because of how big it was and my feet were constantly being dragged out of the stirrups because Reno has a bad habit of bulldozing through bushes instead of going around them, regardless of where you direct his pretty little head.
The simple answer is yes. There are a lot of other factors that can come into play like tree style, cantle height, what position the fenders are hung in, and even the rigging can change how a saddle rides and how you feel in it. Do you have pictures of you riding in each of these saddles?
I have 2 saddles, one is a 15", the other is a 15.5". In general, that is not that much difference, however...
The 15.5 is a roping saddle with a flatter seat, a lower cantle, more forward hung stirrups, and slightly smaller swells in a different shape than my other. I feel like that saddle is way too huge for me and I am not secure in it because I have too much room to move around. It takes a significant amount of work on my part to keep a good seat and keep my legs quiet.
Then, I got my other saddle. It's a 15" ranch hard seat saddle with a modified association tree, a very deep seat, and a 4 inch cantle. I have never put my butt in a saddle that was so comfortable or felt so secure, even on a greenie that's acting a fool. The stirrups are hung a little farther back on the tree so that makes it much easier to keep my feet under me instead of out in front with a horrid chair seat.
I have a circle Y saddle that I can use on either of my horses. Even though they are of different heights, they both have a relatively narrow barrel. Plus those thick western pads help, lol.
Anyway, when I first bought it, I usually used it on Spike, my slow steady 'ole reliable. No prob! W/t/c, he is steady and I remain still in the saddle.
Then I used it on Gunner, or "Young Lightening", my green gallumpy 6 yr old.
I am not so still! A little slidey..
Last laugh was when we went riding on the steep hills (most of where I live is very flat). When Gunner was going up, I would slide back 3 inches. Going down, slide forward 3! I found it very amusing.
I also decided that when I hit the hills, I will only bring my 15", and leave the 16 at home!
I am also having trouble with my skinny little daughter. She rides in a 13.5 Double J and really should be riding in a 12.5 but they are all youth sized and she needs longer fenders. So she rides in a saddle that is too big as I can't afford a custom made saddle
There's another thing to consider along with seat size and cantle height - I'm no expert and really don't understand what this means, but I think it's called "twist?" It has something to do with the width of the seat where it rises to the pommel? I'm not sure. I know that I've ridden in many different saddles trying to find one that fits both my fat backside and my high withered, broadbacked horse. Turns out the horse was easier to fit than I was. A narrower "twist" (whatever that means) is supposed to fit the female form better. There are even saddles that are specifically designed for women - but those things cost the earth!
Dee, it's funny you should mention that. I was just thinking about my Dad's saddle the other day. For me, that is the most God-awful uncomfortable thing I've ever sat in. The actual seat between the swells and the cantle is like 6 inches wide at the narrowest point and it is almost as flat as a board. 5 minutes in that could qualify as pure torture LOL.
By now you'd probably figured out the answer is yes. But it's all relative. I prefer a 14-15" barrel saddle because it has a deep seat and high cantle. My current saddle is 15", but it could stand to be about 14" to be perfect. On the other hand, a friend of mine who isn't much bigger than I am (I am scrawny) has a 17" roping saddle. No idea how she rides in it. I would fall all over the place. But she likes her saddles roomy.
Dee, I saw a video on youtube once explaining the differences between female and male-intended English saddles. It was interesting.