Saddles for an overweight AND tall/long legged rider?
I am currently trying to find a dressage saddle and a western saddle to fit my needs. I hate high cantles and deep seats. My horse has a narrow wither and is downhill so it is hard on my back to ride in a saddle with a high cantle. I am about 5'6'' and am overweight. I am also on a budget. My main problems with saddles are my leg going over the flap in a dressage, feeling claustrophobic (I like freedom of movement), feeling pushed forward and feeling like I am going to fall on my horse's neck, and in a western having my belly against the back of the horn. I don't understand the western fitting problem as I know a few people larger than me yet they ride in the same saddle size (17" western) and they have room to spare. Please no rude comments. Here are some photos of me so you can get an idea of my size and proportions. It is taking me a lot of courage to post these photos so please be nice
Right now I'm using a Big Horn synthetic western and I really love it. PEople will probably tell you it's a crap saddle, but if you're on a tight budget like I was when I bought it, it might work for you. I find it very, very comfortable, and I'm 5'5" and 260. Mine has FQH bars and fits my stocky paint fine with a gel pad. Obviously there are much nicer saddles, but if you're on a budget and can't/don't want to wait around for a nice used one to pop up cheap, I'd recommend the Big Horn. I picked mine up for $250 used. Retail is just over $400 I think.
I think that for both saddles what you really need is a bigger seat size. In the third picture (you in the dressage saddle) it looks like the seat is too small, as well as the flap width, so you'd need something that is overall larger. You have almost no saddle in front of you, so that is probably why you are feeling claustrophobic! By getting a bigger seat size you'll usually find a larger flap that can accommodate your leg width/length as well. This is both a good and a bad thing- if your were very slim with long legs then you would find yourself swimming in the seat to get the flap to fit properly. I have a friend who is going through that trouble, and she's having great difficulties finding a saddle to fit in both seat and flap. The problem though is that larger saddles are less common, particularly ones with a narrower tree.
I can't be of as much help with the western saddle issues, but I think that they are one in the same. By going up in seat size you should be able to avoid pushing up on the horn. It's the same sort of thing with the dressage saddle, except the horn makes it more noticeable to you. Having a little extra space that you can sit back in should give you some extra room in the front too!
Good luck in your search! We all know how much of a pain saddle searching can be, especially if your body deviates any at all from what saddle manufacturers consider the "norm"!!
Bighorn is a decent brand, and about the best cordura saddle you can buy, in my opinion. But I used to have trouble with mine digging into my horse. Because the skirts are soft, there is nothing to keep the tree from digging into the horse if the tree doesn't fit perfect. So, what I would say, is if the tree fits your horse perfect, it is a good saddle. But finding a perfectly fitting saddle can be a nightmare sometimes. Or maybe I am just unlucky that way.
I am the same height as you and overweight and I actually love high cantles and wade or A-fork trees. A wade or A-fork gives you lots of thigh room so you should never feel claustrophobic. But, if you don't have luck with the high cantle, you might want to look at roping saddles. They are generally pretty low in the cantle and have a flatter type seat. Before I discovered A-forks I rode in roping saddles. And because all sizes of people rope, you can usually find them in larger seat sizes too.
If you feel like your saddle is going downhill, it might be too wide for your horse. I HATE that downhill feeling and have sold a couple saddles for that reason. I now have a saddle to fit the horse I was having trouble with and the saddle that fits her well is level in the seat. So your "downhill" saddle might just have been too wide for your horse.
You might also want to look at Tucker trail saddles. They come in a lot of variations and larger seat sizes and I know a lady that has a couple and loves them. They have always been a bit too pricey for me, but if a nice used one ever came my way I would snap it up. Sometimes (well, pretty much all the time) you are better off with a quality used saddle than a cheaper new saddle. And quality used saddle hold their value pretty well too. For instance, if you got a used Tucker you could probably resell it for what you paid for it. If you bought a new, cheaper saddle, you will loose money if you have to sell it. That goes for all saddles actually. If you are on a budget, go used and then if it doesn't fit you are much more likely to get your money back out of it.
and that would be one of my big issues. my horse. I ride in an 18" jumping saddle that is super old and fits me really well and him as well. He has a high wither and its a pain in the a$$.
here is what my horse looks like. He is a 7 yr old grade QH I bought last year. Rescued as a yearling from Colorado from shipping to Mexico for slaughter
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