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Wallaby 05-24-2011 05:53 PM

Australian saddles? Teach me about them!
I'm interesting in learning more about Australian saddles...
According to this website: Clearance Kimberley Aussie Horse Saddles, Trail Saddles, Endurance Saddles (I'm considering the first saddle listed there, I also like the 4th saddle down even better but I don't really think I can convince even a sucker to pay $499 for my current saddle) the saddle I'm looking at is excellent for wide horses and they do the whole wither tracing etc thing which I think would be great considering Lacey's issues with saddles fitting her. They also offer one free tree adjustment of the saddle in the first year you own it which would also be great since Lacey is currently building muscle like no other. And the price, $249, is not bad at all!

The only reason I'm really considering going Aussie is that Lacey is so darn wide that it's been pretty much determined that unless I get a flex tree western saddle, I'm not going to have an easy time finding a good fit for her. The trails I ride are so intense that I don't really feel comfortable with the idea of riding them in an english saddle, not withstanding the fact that she's been too wide for every english saddle I've ever ridden her in (3, but they were all medium wide or something) so I feel like finding a used english saddle that's wide enough will be a challenge and a half.

Only problem: I've never seen an Australian saddle in real life/ridden in one ever. I loved riding english before Lacey came along but I like the extra security of western so I figure that an Aussie saddle might work for us but I'm not sure.

So I guess my basic questions are:
  • What are the main differences when riding between western/english and Australian? I'll just be using it for trails.
  • Do you need a special saddle pad? Or is an english pad just fine?
  • Do they fit the horse differently than an english saddle does? How so?
  • I read on that website that they are situated farther forward on a horse than either a western or an english saddle? True?
Any other information anyone would like to share would be greatly appreciated.

QOS 05-24-2011 07:14 PM

I have had two Aussie saddles from Down Under. I had the Down Under Wizzard Poley with a horn and the Kimberly Stock Saddle in synthetic materials without a horn.

They were both so comfortable. I loved them! They were sized to fit my former horse, Red. I had a hard time fitting him and those saddles were a Godsend to me. My barn manager rode in one of them and thought they were super comfortable.

You do place them more forward than a Western Saddle. It was a little harder to girth it up for me anyway. Get a western cinch if you're used to western! I had the pad that matched, the leg woolies and the suede stirrup pads and the breast strap.

I recently sold them at a tack swap our riding club put on. I would have NEVER sold them had they fit my new horse. He was just shaped different so they didn't work for him. I sold them to a man that has Paso Fino's so I hope he is happy as I was with them. They are great on the trail to keep your backside in the saddle!

I would own another one in a minute if it fit The Biscuit. They are wonderful for trail riding!

bsms 05-25-2011 12:27 AM

  • What are the main differences when riding between western/english and Australian? I'll just be using it for trails.
An Australian style saddle is basically a dressage saddle. The knee blocks have moved up and become thigh blocks called poleys, which I like. If your horse makes a flying twist, the poleys will shove your thigh around, and your hips and you with it. Been there, done that, got the bruise but stayed on the horse.

It is easy to post in an Australian saddle as long as you don't try to fan your crotch (something my youngest daughter seems determined to do).

It feels to me like a wide twist English saddle. I've read that some sit you farther back, more like a western saddle, but mine do not. The cinch is under your leg, and the double flap puts more leather between your leg and the horse than a western saddle does.
  • Do you need a special saddle pad? Or is an english pad just fine?
An English pad is fine. I prefer a Navajo blanket, but that is because my horses seem to like wool better than cotton. I have sometimes used mine with a Wintec rubber pad without a problem - other than it sits you up too high. Does that with an English saddle too.
  • Do they fit the horse differently than an english saddle does? How so?
The panels on an English saddle are L shaped. They are more rectangular on the DownUnder saddles - missing the short part of the L that runs down the front of the flap.
  • I read on that website that they are situated farther forward on a horse than either a western or an english saddle? True?
Here is what DownUnder emailed me when I thought the fitting was wrong:

" Ideally, the Australian saddles are positioned over the highest point of the wither, and when adjusted properly, the scapula moves freely under the front of the saddle tree."

I sent it back for adjustment anyways, because I think that is hogwash. I don't know what kind of horses they ride, but there is no way my Arabian's shoulder will move freely under the saddle tree. I gave it a short try, but after a minute my mare looked at me with her "Are you F^%$*@# stupid?" look. I reckon she knows what bothers her.

Other comments: I've got one with a horn and one without (it is a smaller saddle my oldest daughter used). I've ridden both, and by a small margin prefer no horn.

DownUnder seems to have variable quality in their leather. One of mine has decent leather, the other...well, it is OK but it seems to be wearing too fast. The warranty only covers the tree, although if you got one where the leather seems questionable, you could send it back for an exchange or refund (unless you bought it on clearance - no refund on those, IIRC).

I started riding English, drifted to Australian and now have drifted further into western. I'll probably ride with my Australian saddle for another year or so, then sell it and switch permanently to a western saddle. The picture below is of my gelding. The saddle has a wither pad because Trooper is a little narrower than Mia and his withers go further back. Also, the saddle was a bit too far back when this photo was taken.

bsms 05-25-2011 12:37 AM

corinowalk 05-25-2011 12:54 AM

Wallaby...I didn't lead ya wrong when I told you about the bighorn...and I wont lead you wrong again. Get the Aussie. *laugh*

Downunder is a great site and they are honestly even better to deal with. Call them up, ask questions. They are very knowledgeable. Their service is actually really very nice. If you are riding lots and the saddle starts not fitting, you can send it back and have it refitted for $35. That is a deal.

Where else are you going to get a custom saddle for $250?

I bought my Kimberly trail master used and the leather is very good. I have heard that the quality varies a bit. I listed my only complaints in another thread today but I'll repeat them for you. There are only 3.

The horn. I hate it. It isn't like a western saddle horn. It just...I don't know...gets in the way? It just seems unnatural and uncomfortable. There are a million rings to hang saddle bags from...other than a place to hang a horn bag, a horn on an Aussie is pretty useless.

The over girth. I would much prefer the dressage style girthing they offer on their endurance models. If you get the trail master, you might want to get an Aussie sheepskin seat saver...keeps that overgirth from rubbing or pinching.

The weight. They are heavy. About the weight of a fully double skirted western saddle. You would think they would be lighter...but they aren't!

They are super for the trail, comfortable, well fitting, functional. I love em.

Wallaby 05-25-2011 01:23 AM

Thanks QOS, bsms, and Cori!

Cori- I know it about the Big Horns! Maybe you should just pm me all your favorite brands of everything and I'll just copy you. hahaha Just kidding, but it does seem like that's what I keep ending up doing!

I really think I will get an Aussie. I've been mourning the loss of riding english ever since Miss Lacey decided that english was not for her (aka, being unable to find one wide enough for her and her very reasonably throwing fits about it) and it would be really nice to be back in that "family" again.
Sadly, the person who was considering buying my saddle can't right now so hopefully someone on Craigslist will want to buy it. But in that case, I probably won't have the money before the 31st (when the sale ends on that one saddle) so I started looking around at their other saddles. I really like the Kimberly Economy Outback w/out horn (if someone actually does pay $400 for my current saddle) and the Kimberly Synthetic Endurance w/out horn is pretty nice looking too (great for Oregon where I end up riding in the rain alllll the time and it just has the dressage girth setup, no overgirth). I've been gored one too many times with a saddle horn to ever really feel very safe riding with one so I'd really prefer to get a saddle without a horn. :)

My current saddle is about 30 pounds so only around 20 would be such a relief! haha

And if all else fails (aka, no one on this earth wants to buy my current saddle), when I get my $350 check from camp at the end of the summer I can reward myself for a hard summer by buying a spiffin' new saddle.

Thanks for all the info!
And that's extra great to know about the saddle pads. I saw the ones they were selling on their website and I was like "not another $70 pad!" since I just spent $90 on a western pad that ended up being too thick for my current saddle and pretty basically unusable with my current gear. Thankfully I already have a wool Navajo blanket and an english pad so when/if I get my saddle, I can try them both out and see how they work.
The things we do for our horses!

coffeegod 05-25-2011 12:33 PM

I appreciate the input as well. My background is English but I'm just a little too old and stiff to properly ride that way (knee injuries) so I'm leaning toward Australian.

Failbhe 05-24-2012 09:09 AM

I just ordered an Aussie (the Kimberly Outback, no horn) for my new mare Cece. I've been riding Western forever but I'm tired of the bulk and weight of it, so I'm hoping the Aussie will be a good compromise. I was going to order one from downunderweb with the custom fitting, BUT, their price jumped up $90 in the week it took me to get a wither tracing (she's at a trainer's right now) so I got it from with no custom fitting. I hope that wasn't a mistake! It's mostly for light trail riding. She'll be home in just over a week (and hopefully the saddle will be here by then) so I guess I'll know soon!

Joe4d 05-24-2012 09:28 AM

For the wider horse you should look farther down the page at the Trailmaster. They are basically made for the rounder wider QH type. The saddles you pointed out are for narrower wither horses.

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