Different English Saddle brands and how they fit?

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Different English Saddle brands and how they fit?

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    07-06-2014, 06:21 PM
Different English Saddle brands and how they fit?

Okay, honestly I'm a little frustrated. I'm having one heck of a time finding articles or information on how specific brands of English saddles are made and how they fit/what kind of horse they fit.

I have a Morgan with a fairly wide back. He has withers; they aren't very high, but he isn't mutton withered. I recently did a trial run on a Wintec All Purpose 500, it was plenty wide enough for him. However it was far to STRAIGHT in the bars/panels. It ended up bridging. Not severely but enough that I was not comfortable buying it.

So I guess I have a few questions. And I'm look specifically ENGLISH here. Not western.

1st: I would like to know the different brands and what type of conformation that are made to fit?

2nd: What brands do I need to looking into for my horses specific type of conformation?
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    07-06-2014, 08:17 PM
You may not be aware of how huge this question is

1st: I would like to know the different brands and what type of conformation that are made to fit?

Oh my. There are so many brands out there. Hundreds. In addition to the really big brands, there are even more smaller brands, and even mom and pop shop saddleries that may not even put a maker's mark or have a brand for their saddles.

Each brand will fit differently (there are exceptions, for example Bates and Wintec saddles are built on the same tree, so are Kent and Masters and Thorowgood, and there are many more like that).

Now we add a second dimension to that. Because within each brand, there are different tree designs for their different models, which are made to fit different conformations.

Rather than asking for a list of brands and how they fit, I think we need to narrow it down a bit. You can narrow it down by stating the price range you're comfortable with.

Since you're looking at the Wintec 500, I'm going to assume that you want to stay under $1000, or under $500, but we can probably eliminate the Ones from $1000-$5000, is that right?

Are you interested in only new saddles, or used, but newer model, or are old classic saddles in great shape also an option for you?

If you answer those questions for you, you will probably get some useful answers to your question #1.

"2nd: What brands do I need to looking into for my horses specific type of conformation?"

I'm going to assume that you want to stay under $1000, and that new, used, old doesn't matter, as long as it's a quality saddle that fits you and horse correctly.

I've had several Morgans and ride several Arabs. I also ride Friesians, so I'm familiar with the difficulty of that back.

I have often run into the bridging problem with the wide horses, and it's often not because the saddle is too straight in the panels. I've often found that it's because the gullet is the wrong shape. If the saddle is A-shaped when you look at it from the front, the tree-points just can't reach wide enough to properly cradle the withers before heading downwards, so the front ends up sitting too high up, and the center of the saddle can't sit where it should and bridges. What you want is called a "hoop-tree". It's shaped like an upside-down "U".

I am not familiar with nearly all saddle-brands. I have some that I know well and really like, so I can discuss a couple of those.

-1- Duett saddles have hoop trees and are made for horses like this. You can find them used under $1000 on eBay, but then you can't return it if it's all wrong. They cost $1300-$1500 new, then you get great service from the rep. Look up some of their saddles on eBay just to get a look at the shape of the front of the saddle, and you'll see what I mean about the hoop-tree. Look at the picture of this saddle from the front, and you'll see how that will nicely span your horses wide withers and sit lower in the front, letting the center contact the back.

Duett Largo Dressage Saddle 18" Seat with 38 cm Tree | eBay

-2- I just got a custom Thorowgood. They are also made for wider horses, but not super-wide ones. I'm using mine on Arabs and Friesians. One Friesian is just too wide for it, but others are OK. It has a hoop-tree, but a pretty modest one. Fits those horses infinitely better than the Wintec I tried though. Thorowgood makes a "Cob" or "Broadback" model, for the wide flatbacked horses. It has a very wide twist that I find difficult to ride in. I have the regular tree, and it fits the hroses I ride just fine, but none of them are truly flat-backed.

-3- Thornhills are good for wide horses. I have not had one myself.

-4- I love the old German and Swiss saddles: Passier, Stubben, Kieffer, Courbette, Felsbach, Kloster Beim Schonthal. However, I have never been able to get one to fit a horse with your conformation before. They just run too narrow at the withers. I have seen some of the old Kieffer dressage saddles with a good hoop-tree.
unclearthur and Viranh like this.
    07-06-2014, 08:28 PM
I just looked in the Classifieds section in this Forum and searched for Duett and found several there with great pictures. Take a look at those and compare the difference int he shape of those saddles to the Wintec you've been trying.
    07-06-2014, 09:46 PM
Just found this blog online. The pics might help clarify what I'm trying to describe to you.

Saddle Fitting: The Inside Journey: Having a Fit: Hoop Tree Vs. Standard Tree
    07-06-2014, 10:06 PM
Freia gave you some great advice, and really hit the nail on the head.

The reason you can't really find a clear cut explanation of what brands fit what types of horses is because saddles are so individual to fit. Even different models within the same brand will fit differently. I own a Shire/TB cross with a somewhat wide back and some withers on her. I ended up with a wide Collegiate Dignitary, found used for $475. I had the fit confirmed by a professional fitter.

Honestly, I think the best way to find a saddle that fits is to take a wither tracing and take it to as many local tack shops as possible. Any saddles that fit you and the tracing can be taken on trial. This will help you narrow down your selection in the store.

In my most recent saddle hunt I discovered that Collegiate can be good for fitting to the wider horses. I took two of them on trial, and one was a near perfect fit for my draft cross. The saddle fitter I hired was impressed with the find. I also found a Kincade that was a near perfect fit but decided against that brand for quality of construction alone. They don't have a very good reputation. If I hadn't found anything else that fit I would have bought the Kincade though. A cheap saddle that fits is better than any other saddle that doesn't fit!

Freia is also correct about Stubben. They tend to run narrow. I took a few on trial just because I like them for myself, but none of them left enough room for my horse's broad shoulder.

Newer Pessoa's may be a possibility though. My sister has a pessoa for her hefty cob gelding and it fits him well. We also have an old Thoroughbred brand saddle that fits my mom's wide gypsy very well.
    07-07-2014, 01:17 AM
Green Broke
I've known a few Trainers saddles to fit wide horses, and they're still pretty economical and seem comfy to ride in.
    07-07-2014, 01:05 PM
Freia, I can not tell you how much that helped! I honestly don't know much about english saddles, which is probably why I didn't know exactly how to ask the right questions ;)

I've always ridden western.. so looking for an english saddle that fits my horse has been a challenge being as I know next to nothing about them! (besides the fact I'd like an all purpose)
    07-07-2014, 01:26 PM
I have an additional question. Would the Duett fit a back that has just a slight dip to it? We are working really hard at getting the back up, getting the hind end engaged and just generally getting him moving better. However I don't think he will ever be straight from wither to hip. Neither do I see his back coming up or muscling up more than it already has.
    07-07-2014, 01:28 PM
Originally Posted by kiltsrhott    
Honestly, I think the best way to find a saddle that fits is to take a wither tracing and take it to as many local tack shops as possible. Any saddles that fit you and the tracing can be taken on trial. This will help you narrow down your selection in the store.
How do you go about taking a wither tracing? I'd definitely be willing to try that.
    07-07-2014, 03:14 PM
Originally Posted by HighonEquine    
How do you go about taking a wither tracing? I'd definitely be willing to try that.
Welcome to the saddle-fitting merry-go-round

Before I tell you how to take a wither-tracing, here's just a quick crash-course in saddle-placement so that you understand why we measure/trace where we do.

If you look under the flap on an English saddle, you'll see two pockets just to the front of your billets. Those pockets hold the tree-points. The tree points are rigid, and are designed to cradle your horse's back to give you side-to-side stability. Look at your saddle from the front. You can visualize where the tree-point goes from the one pocket, along and over the pommel and back down to the other pocket. We want the angle of the tree-points to match the angle of your horse, so that there's no pinching or pressure-points, and your horse gets good, even support.

If the saddle is sitting too far forward, your horse's shoulder-blade can bang into those rigid tree-points. If you have a sensitive horse, he may tell you quite violently what he thinks of that. If you have a stoic horse, he may just not move very smoothly. To avoid this, we find the rear edge of the scapula (usually lines up pretty closely with the very rear end of the mane at the withers). Feel the back of the scapula. Mark it with chalk if it helps you. Now go about 2" or 3 finger-widths behind that and mark that as well. The tree points cannot sit further forward that your last mark there. The tree points have to be at least 2" behind the scapula on a horse. This is where you will take your wither-tracing.

Use a flexi-curve (available at fabric-stores), or a wire (like a coat-hanger). Lay it over your horse's withers at the last mark you made, and press down so that you get a perfect mold of your horse's body at that location. Lay that down on a piece of paper or cardboard and trace the inside of it. Voila! A copy of your horse's back that you can e-mail to people or take saddle-shopping with you.

Will the Duett fit a horse with a curvy back? Hmmmm. Hard to tell without seeing the saddle and the horse. If his curvy back is due to lack of tone, then you can use shims until he starts lifting his back again. A saddler or fitter can also do wonders by adjusting the flocking in the panels. If you'd be considering a new Duett, you e-mail your tracing and pictures of your horse to them, and they can tell you a lot about how it will fit. If you're considering used, getting the seller to give you a good answer can be really difficult. If buying used, you definitely want to try to negotiate a trial to check fit.

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