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teamfire 05-26-2013 04:21 PM

Dressage saddle for flat back?
I posted this in the tack section, but didn't get many responses.

I'm thinking about possibly changing my boy's saddle. He has a very flat and wide back. He is not short backed though. He also has very large shoulders but has small withers.

In your experiences, have you any suggestions?

48northfarm 05-26-2013 09:16 PM

Hi, I'm new here, but I thought I'd weigh in on this question.

First, why are no longer happy with your current saddle? Is its fit bad on your horse? Are you just interested in a different saddle style, as in going from a CC saddle to a dressage saddle? If you're not very knowledgeable about dressage saddles, I'd suggest talking to a local saddle fitter who can guide you through picking out a saddle for your boy that fits both him and you well.

Second, if you don't have any saddle fitters nearby, talk to a local tack shop for recommendations. Most good tack shops have a saddle expert that can help you, once you tell her your horse's build. Of course, she'd only give you a few saddles to try on your horse, she wouldn't be able to guarantee that any of those saddles would fit your boy and you. You'd have to try all of them on him first, and ride him in them next.

Without help from a saddle fitter, buying a new saddle is tricky. Buying a book about saddle fit is a good idea. I have one called THE HORSE'S PAIN-FREE BACK AND SADDLE-FIT BOOK by Joyce Harman, DVM.

But after all of the suggestions, plan on trying a lot of saddles in order to make sure of the fit. It makes no sense to buy a saddle that fits your horse if it doesn't fit you, nor does it make any sense to get a saddle you love that causes your horse to pin his ears when you walk up with the saddle in your hands. Or worse.

Along with buying a saddle that fits, a saddle's fit should be checked every six months. A horse's musculature can change if you ride him more or less, or do different exercises, or even change as the horse ages. My CWB mare had to have the panels of her saddle changed due to age and fitness, and new panels would have cost nearly as much as a saddle, so I elected to get her a new one.

Good luck on your saddle search.

teamfire 05-27-2013 01:20 AM

Hi! No, I already have a dressage saddle. It's been fitted professionally by an awesome saddle fitter (and it's been done twice now? This would be the third time in a year, so you can do the math there. Trust me, I know how a horse can change shape!).

However, due to my previous budget for a saddle, we did what we could. The fitter made it so it was comfortable for my horse (and like I said, it was adjusted twice now) but the saddle is not designed for my horse's shape. It is designed for a bit more curvy back. So it has not bothered him and he is working and muscling up wonderfully, but his withers have widened quite a bit now, so he needs it adjusted again.

It may be that the fitter can adjust it again and off we go. But if she suggests it may be time for a new saddle, I want to be informed of the possibilities so I can chat about it in such a way I am not completely in the dark.

48northfarm 05-27-2013 05:55 PM

My saddles are custom by Jan Hulsebos in the Netherlands. I probably could have gotten away with off-the-rack saddles for my WB mares--a CWB and a HOL/TB--but my Lusitano mare has a shape that is unlike those of WBs. Where they are inverted Vs, she is an inverted U, round and no withers. Plus a short back. She is built like your boy, but much shorter backed. You might want to check into a saddle for an Iberian horse, if you can find one long enough.

I have a friend with an Andalusian cross mare, who has the round barrel from her Iberian genes, but a longer back from her other genes. I do not know what her cross is, maybe QH. Anyway, the friend got a Wintec Isabel with the adjustable gullet, and it fits her mare superbly. They're not expensive, but might be worth looking at. Perhaps the saddle fitter can advise you on the way a Wintec would fit your boy.

I was stupid enough to get an Isabel for my Lusitano mare when we were starting her--I wanted the adjustable gullet for when she changed shape as she muscled up--and when my saddle maker saw it, during a trip to check the other saddles, he nearly had a heart attack. He said, "Do NOT ride her with that saddle! It's much too long for her." He gave me a loaner to use as I waited for my ordered saddle, and the loaner was a saddle a Spanish client exchanged for a new saddle. I got the short tree I needed for Athene, my then filly. I had known enough to make sure the panels fit, but did not know to check the length. Duh. Now I know that the saddle should not extend past the last rib.

So, maybe a Wintec Isabel might fit your boy. ...48northfarm

disastercupcake 06-01-2013 10:59 PM

I have the same problem. My boy is a paint/belgian cross and I cannot find a dressage saddle that fits. Plenty of hunt saddles though!

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