My mare, Tanner, is nearly impossible to fit to a saddle -- she has the high withers of an arabian, but the width of a narrow Quarter horse. Tree-wise, she fits perfectly into a Semi-Quarter horse saddle; but every SQH saddle I've had the chance to pop on her back has the swell knocking on her spine before I've even cinched it up.
Now, I have a SQH saddle on order that may or may not fit her, and right now, I'm not particularly convinced that it will. (If it does, I'll be shocked -- I really will.) I have no idea when it'll get here -- because of several pervious mixups, it was supposed to get here almost a month ago, but when we called (again) a few days ago, they said that they were just making it -- so another three weeks is the presumed arrival date.
At any rate, I borrowed a saddle from a friend, and to my astonishment, it fit her like a dream. I also know where I can get the same saddle (though not sure if I can get it in a 14" seat size) fairly cheap. The issue I hold with it is... it's a cordura (Abetta brand, actually). And a flex tree. The two things I swore I'd never buy.
I've heard some people say they love the cordura and/or flex trees, but I've also heard people cursing them.
I've never had a flex tree saddle, but my logic behind disliking them is that a flex tree is basically a manufactured broken tree. I've also heard a saddle fitter explain how the flex trees were inherently weaker in construction compared to a rigid tree. (I don't remember the details... something about how many nails were used to hold the bridge together, I think? It made sense at the time.)
As for Corduras... I don't know what it is about them, but they just rub me the wrong way. I have an Abetta cordura now that I used on my first horse, and I just can't stand to look at it, much less put it on a horse and ride in it. It just feels so flimsy and cheap to me... I like my leather saddles. I like the time put into cleaning and oiling them, and the solid-ness of a good old leather saddle. If that makes a lick of sense. :-| Sorry if anyone else likes them, I just can't stand to use one.
Now for my question: Assuming that the saddle I have on order doesn't fit, should I jump on buying this cordura saddle for Tanner, and maybe if I find a leather saddle that I like better down the road, sell the cordura one? Or just pass it by?
As it stands now, I can't ride Tanner at all outside of barebacking in the arena (she's still figuring out that elusive speed between "walk" and "running like her tail is on fire" and I'd rather hit sand if I slip than gravel or packed dirt.) and the few times I can borrow that saddle from my friend (and her saddle is too big for me from all sides -- my feet barely reach the stirrups at their shortest setting and the seat is a 15" when I usually ride 14") . None of my other saddles fit her at all!
Oh, and a custom-fit saddle is just not an option.
Flex trees are actually better for the horse than a static tree because it allows the horse's back to move more freely. I have a Big Horn half synthetic gaited horse sadde (wide tree) with the Rallide Flex Tree and I really like it. It fits my warmblood really well (yes, I have a western saddle for my warmblood, but we trail ride! lol). I, too, prefer leather saddles, but that's all I could afford at the time, but that Big Horn I got was the 'higher end' of the half synthetic saddles.
If the cordura saddle fits your horse and she is comfortable in it, then get it. You can always save up for a saddle that you truly want.
I agree, I've always thought that a flex tree would be more giving to the movement of the horse. I could be wrong.
I think right now, fit and feel are the priority. I would see if you can keep borrowing the flex tree until your new leather one comes in. See how you feel after a few more rides.
Abetta is a nice Saddle for 300.00, we have three, one is 15 years old :D
Ralide is the only Flex Tree I like! There are many other flex tree brands, but I would not have them if you gave them yo me.
If you want to upgrade to a Leather Saddle one day, just make sure it is made with the same Ralide Tree Abetta uses and that should solve the fitting problem
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