Mona's got high withers and a big barrel. It took me a long time to find something that fit her. I ride her in a full QH Bar Courts Saddle and a Parelli air pad. Basically, the pad is what made the difference. It's an expensive pad, but it kept me from having to buy a new saddle.
I would look for a good quality saddle with a decent if not perfect fit and then get good quality pad. The air, memory foam, and gel pads are nice because they can give a little in the right places.
Making a tracing of your horse's back helps, but I tried on every saddle I could. I would borrow my friends' saddles and put them on her just to get an idea of what works and what didn't. I found that Abettas and Wintecs are nice but the trees tend to run narrow. Gaited saddles give good shoulder clearance but run narrow also. The roping and work saddle trees run wide and tend to give good shoulder clearance.
Sorry, I don't have very good pictures of Mona. Mona June.jpg
They make a lot of the trees used in western saddles, and this program would make it obvious which of their trees fits the horse the best.
"These fit forms are fiberglass moldings that duplicate precisely nine of the most widely used fits in our Equi-Fit ® saddle tree line. When placed on the horse's back, the fit forms literally allow the fit to be seen unobstructed by the saddle skirts, rigging and stirrup leathers. We realize that not everyone is an expert on fit, but serious fit problems are usually obvious with an unobscured view."
"People can teach us the rules, but only horses can teach us the art of riding."
I think the closest I can describe my girl is.. a giraffe. lol wish I had the right pic to show it. Look at a giraffe and that's my girl and her withers.
It's nice to know there are others out there who have horses with such giraffe like wither problems too.. it looks like she goes from hump to neck and nothing in between. Her withers are her neck almost.
She's also got that gaited build so I don't want a saddle that drapes down her front legs/shoulders and hinders her movements when she's picking her front legs up high while doing a rack. I'm thinking a treeless saddle might be a good direction to head in. Gaited saddles are a bit too expensive for me right now.
Regardless of what she looks like or how other friends tease me about her ( good naturedly).... she will always be beautiful and perfect to me.. I just have to find the right clothes for her
P.S. don't mind that wooden structure she's running alongside.. those are NOT spikes in that picture..they are T -posts waaaay far back towards the field. Nowhere near her.
Looks like there is enough room in the gullet for her withers but when you get up in the saddle... it touches and puts pressure on them. It fooled me! At first glance I thought WOW so much space! There is no way that is going to put pressure on her withers. I was wrong. So sad too because it was a beautiful saddle and i wanted it.