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LadyChevalier 01-21-2014 06:10 PM

Saddle Fit Help/Advise
Hey guys wondering if you could help me out here. I have been trying to contact a saddle fitter in my area to have a look at one of my primary riding horses back to see what size/fit saddle would work on him. He is 11/12 years old, registered paint with a lot of QH- more than paint, stands at 14.2 and is not overly stocky built. Short back- from the back of the scapula to the point of the hip approx he can comfortably wear a 23.5-24 in skirt.

Now my issue is bar size. The last saddle i rode in him for years (I honestly had not a clue about saddle fit back then unfortunately) and those had semi QHBs I believe. So I dumbly purchased a saddle with FQHB that tipped way to forward on him, cinched or no- not to mention it was just in general too big for him. So I'm guessing that the FQHB were tooo big.

So I decided to try that wire measure over the withers to find out what size gullet he needed. I fitted a stiff wire over his whither right behind the drop off of the scapula- where the saddle conchos are supposed to sit. Then on a piece of paper traced the wire and measured 3inches down from the center. Then I measured that line... it is 8 INCHES!!! :shock: I tried it again with a different wire and was more careful about it and still came up 8 inches. He really does NOT look like he has a draft back and his withers are defined so I wouldnt consider him mutton withered.

So I am wondering, did i do something wrong? :oops: Any recommendations on what to do- I am attempting to build a map of his back and I will post pictures soon. Oh and I am trying to get a hold of a saddle fitter in my area. There happens to only be a few around the state that I've found and there happens to be one that lives in my town!

Thanks in advance!

SouthernTrails 01-21-2014 06:28 PM


Here is a link to downloadable Templates

Here are a list of averages in Western Saddles:

Semi-QH Bars- 6.5" Gullet, some say Medium Tree
Reg-QH Bars 6.75" Gullet
Full- QH Bars 7.0" Gullet, Some say Wide Tree
X-Wide QH Bars 7.25" Gullet
Narrow Draft Bars 7.5" Gullet
Wide Draft Bars 8.0" Gullet

I know many people on the Internet like the Wire Method, but it is a terrible way to measure most of the time, I will never make a saddle for someone based on the wire method....never ever :wink:

Reason, 2 horses are the same width where the Bar of the Saddle would fit and the same angle of the body in that area, one has mutton withers one has shark fin withers... according to the wire method one horse has a 8" gullet, one horse has a 6" Gullet.....

As far as your Horse, I do not think I have ever seen a QH or even an Arab that is 14.2 hands tall that cannot use a 26" round skirt, maybe some sqaure skirts might not work, but if you like square skirts a 25" should work fine.


LadyChevalier 01-21-2014 07:03 PM

Thank you!
I actually tried those templates, they were so much easier to use. He seems to fit the FQHB nicely, the medium bars seemed to dig in at points. So then I tried the wire method to be sure because the saddle I tried with FQHB tipped way too far forward which I think means the bars were way too big. The rock of the saddle could have been wrong for him to... The saddle I bought has a 26-7 inch skirt which is wayyyyy to big for him. It seems to fit my other bigger paint gelding just fine, sits level, ample room for shoulder movement, skirt length is good, and it feels like there is even pressure under the bars. So not a total loss....

Just Drake seemed to baffle me a bit and I wasnt quite sure where to go at this point with all these conflicting findings.

SouthernTrails 01-21-2014 07:07 PM


They do not have the Reg-QH template, but I find a Reg-QH bar fits your size of Horse more often than a Full-QH bar.

If the back of the saddle flips up, almost always is a sign the saddle is too wide.....


LadyChevalier 01-21-2014 07:14 PM

You are probably right, if the semi/medium bars are too small and causing pinching/rub marks and the FQHB are tipping forward/too big- then the happy medium would be Regular.
Thank you for the advice. :)

LadyChevalier 01-21-2014 07:26 PM

I have another question, kind of off topic but what is the opinion of flex trees? Good/bad? Are there brands that are more desireable or those that should avoid? I am very experienced rider and have a good/light seat, i weigh about 140 give or take throughout the year. I've heard bad and good things but then again I am just learning and I see lots of flex trees saddles for sale. Just wondering if I should be considering one of those to better fit Drake as the last saddle which was too small caused some bridging- it was an older wood tree saddle.

SouthernTrails 01-21-2014 07:35 PM


Flex Trees...... arghhhh....

Ralide are the best as they do not overflex, but Ralide have very limited applications

Steele Brand Flex Trees are OK.

Now a lot of people love those other brands of flex trees, but ever wonder why generation 1 was taken off the market? I am no fan of generation 2 either :wink:


LadyChevalier 01-21-2014 07:54 PM

Sounds like I will be over looking flex trees then. They sound good in theory but I dont want to cause further damage to my horse's back by something I could avoid.

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