Western Saddle fit
   

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Western Saddle fit

This is a discussion on Western Saddle fit within the Saddle Fitting Issues forums, part of the Horse Tack and Equipment category

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    • 4 Post By beau159
    • 2 Post By bsms
    • 1 Post By COWCHICK77
    • 1 Post By COWCHICK77

     
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        11-20-2013, 04:42 PM
      #1
    Foal
    Western Saddle fit

    I ride English but have ridden my horse western a few times. I'm looking in to purchasing a western saddle to just play around in, but am not sure what size and fit I need.
    • First of all what are the bars of the saddle and what is the difference between the different kinds? Are certain ones more suitable for different builds of horses?
    • Also what is the rigging and how will I be able to tell which one is correct for my horse?
    • What kind of saddle works best for a high withered horse? My horse doesn't have excessively high withers, but the way she is built, the saddle has to sit farther back to avoid hurting her shoulder. I've tried two different western saddles and both hit her withers. Is it true that barrel saddles tend to have more wither clearance?
    • Speaking of shoulders I heard that the western saddle should sit partially on the shoulder, unlike the english saddle. Is that true?
    Also here are pictures of my horse so you can get an idea of the kind of horse I'm trying to fit. Also if you have any saddle recommendations I would really appreciate it!



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        11-20-2013, 05:35 PM
      #2
    Yearling
    Keep in mind I'm no expert but I'll give it a go!

    From what I can gather the main difference between bars is what they're most likely to fit. (For instance some will say QH's which in my experience means that they will fit wider horses). Don't know if I'm correct of that but that's been my experience.

    The rigging can be anything from saddle bag attachments on the back of the saddle to the second girth strap and so on. If you do a lot of trails and want to have saddle bags I would suggest getting a saddle that has the attachments or rigging to do so.

    I can't say anything about barrel saddles (I use an AP wintec western saddle), but in my experience my western saddle will fit almost anything (i might have to use some padding on a super high withered horse, but I've never had one sore from the saddle itself). I've had it on thoroughbreds, QH's, drafts, morgans and none of those horses had an issue with the saddle.

    As for the shoulders, I do believe that that is the case. However when I've used mine on more forward moving horses I've set it off the shoulder sometimes and other times it's probably a little bit behind it but not to much. I think I have set it partially on the shoulder as well. Whatever's comfortable for the horse is how I set the saddle.

    Sorry I couldn't be more specific or concrete. I ride western and you'd think I'd know this stuff. I'm just blaming it on living in a very rural area that's has a vision that the saddle fits if it doesn't pain the horse. :p
         
        11-20-2013, 05:41 PM
      #3
    Green Broke
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sheenanaginz    

    First of all what are the bars of the saddle and what is the difference between the different kinds? Are certain ones more suitable for different builds of horses?
    I like this website because it describes everything very well.

    Western Saddle Fitting and Different Tree Sizes

    Basically, the bars of the tree are what rest on the horse's back (on either side of the spine).




    Bars that are set wider apart (full quarter horse bars) will fit a wider and stockier type of horse, like a big stocky QH. Bars that are narrow-set (semi quarter horse) will fit narrow build horses.

    All trees will have a slightly different shape and flare. One company's full QH bars will not be the same as another company's full QH bars. If the bars do not lay nice and flat on your horse's back, that will cause pressure points and pain.

    Saddle fit is literally trial and error until you find one that fits your horse's back.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sheenanaginz    
    Also what is the rigging and how will I be able to tell which one is correct for my horse?
    This website has a great description (with pictures) of what rigging is. It's all about where the cinch hangs down on the saddle, in relation to the saddle.

    Your Complete Guide to Saddle Rigging

    All horses have slightly different anatomy to where their withers are and where the saddle "fits". So you may need to rigging farther forward or farther backward to get your cinch in the correct place.

    Some saddles come with adjustable rigging, and gives you more freedom to adjust as you need for your horse.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sheenanaginz    
    What kind of saddle works best for a high withered horse? My horse doesn't have excessively high withers, but the way she is built, the saddle has to sit farther back to avoid hurting her shoulder. I've tried two different western saddles and both hit her withers. Is it true that barrel saddles tend to have more wither clearance?
    In general, you are going to want narrower bars in order to "vault" over your horse's withers.

    If the saddles you have tried so far hit the withers, you need a narrower gullet. (although a narrower gullet doesn't always mean a narrower tree)

    I have never heard that about barrel saddles. A saddle is a saddle. It depends what tree is in it.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sheenanaginz    
    Speaking of shoulders I heard that the western saddle should sit partially on the shoulder, unlike the english saddle. Is that true?
    Depends on the tree.

    Most western saddles should NOT sit on the shoulder. It should sit behind the shoulder.

    But a few brands, such as Caldwell with a rolled-edge tree, are designed for the saddle to sit partially on the shoulder.
         
        11-20-2013, 05:41 PM
      #4
    Green Broke
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Incitatus32    

    The rigging can be anything from saddle bag attachments on the back of the saddle to the second girth strap and so on. If you do a lot of trails and want to have saddle bags I would suggest getting a saddle that has the attachments or rigging to do so.
    That's not what rigging is. Read my post above.
         
        11-20-2013, 05:47 PM
      #5
    Yearling
    Thank you beau! :) I have a warped vocabulary in the horse world so to me that's the cinch (or at least how I was taught). Need to get all the forms of terminology down!
         
        11-20-2013, 07:31 PM
      #6
    Trained
    More than most folks want to know...

    Factors That Affect Tree Fit
    smrobs and Incitatus32 like this.
         
        11-20-2013, 08:55 PM
      #7
    Green Broke
    From my experience the main ones are Semi-QH and full-QH, but there are also gaited, arab, draft, however I've only ever come across Semi and Full. Apparently there is also a "Regular QH" which is a little narrower than the Semi but I haven't come across any.

    The different names refer to the angle of the bars so a steep angle is better for a narrower back and a shallow one for a wider. However just because the bars suit a narrower angle doesn't mean that the gullet/height will. Each tree is going to be different.

    For clearing the wither - if the bars are too wide apart then they'll fall and hit the wither. Or if the gullet height is too low they'll hit the wither. I found that Semi-QH had the right angle for my TB but they were too far apart, so I got a built up pad to make her wither wider. That only works if the angle is right though, if the angle is off no padding is going to fix it.

    The bars sit behind the shoulder like an English saddle. The part that goes over the shoulder should just be leather, and doesn't bear any weight.

    Rigging, I once had a saddle where the rigging was set a little further back than normal and my horse hated it. The saddle I ride in now has two rings, so I use both and ride in 7/8th but it's pretty flexible.
         
        11-20-2013, 09:09 PM
      #8
    Green Broke
    Just from looking at the pics, it looks like to me that a saddle would have the tendency to slide back a tad. He is built a lot like a running bred horse which I found to have that issue with. Also he looks narrow but it's hard to really be sure without an over the top view of his back. But I imagine he might need something with a little steeper angle of bars since he appears to be a little narrow as opposed to a round barreled flat backed horse traditional QH.

    Something to think about is that saddles and trees differ between makers. There are a lot of factors that go into building a tree let alone a saddle. For example a tree style might give you a good idea of what might work for you and your horse but if it's real close you just might try a different saddle or tree maker.
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    smrobs likes this.
         
        11-20-2013, 09:19 PM
      #9
    Green Broke
    I hit "post" before I was done :)

    Rigging positions and styles will also change how a saddle fits so that is something to experiment with as well.
    For example, A lot of folks will tell you that you don't need a back cinch on a full double or 15/16 rig but the reason for a back cinch in those situations is to balance the pull on the tree. A full double is meant to have a fairly snug back cinch to even the pull and help balance the tree on the horse. Back cinches are not just for roping! Otherwise why won't someone need a back cinch on a center fire or 5/8 rig roping?
    Posted via Mobile Device
    smrobs likes this.
         
        11-21-2013, 01:41 PM
      #10
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by COWCHICK77    
    Just from looking at the pics, it looks like to me that a saddle would have the tendency to slide back a tad. Saddle or tree maker.
    Posted via Mobile Device
    Yes her saddle does tend to slip back. But it usually has to sit pretty far back to not hit her in the shoulders. You can see that pretty clear in the first photo. Thanks for all the advice!
         

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