(and some other aussie saddle improvement ideas)
When I got my Australian saddle last spring I liked the saddle, but did not like the rigging. My very sensitive TBx is prone to rubs and did not do well with the overgirth. I found that it tightens one side more than the other, causing uneven pressure, and that caused problems for both of our horses. I also didn't like the bulk of the buckles under the flap. I found western rigging conversion kits online, but they were bulky, expensive, and not what I wanted. I prefer dressage girths-- IMO shorter girths are more stable and less likely to rub, and I like to be able to tighten each side one hole at a time, back and forth, for the comfort of said sensitive horse. My horse also prefers a girth with even stretch; girths with elastic on just one side cause her problems. So finding a dressage style girth with 1.5" buckles to accommodate the wide aussie billets and with elastic on BOTH sides was challenging. After tons of searching I have found 3 styles that I am happy with. My favorite is the 100% Mohair string girth, I also use the neoprene girth for short or muddy rides, and the real wool pile girth is nice too:
If anyone is having the same problem and looking for these girths I can look up the links where I found them...
Then I had to figure out how to change the rigging. The overgirths on our aussie saddles have a billet on one side and a D ring on the other, for the pull strap to go through. I did find some overgirths online that had billets on both sides, but they were expensive and not high quality leather. So I worked with what I had. For the black overgirth, I cut the pull strap off an aussie girth and secured it to the D ring on the overgirth with chicago screws, washers, and Loctite. For the brown overgirth I used an extra long leather halter crownpiece attached the same way:
Here's the rigging under the flap on the horse:
We've been using this set up on two different horses for a while now, and are really happy with it. HUGE improvement from the way the saddles came. The horses are much more comfortable on long multiday rides, no more rubs, swelling, or saddle tilt. Also, I find it more comfortable for the rider, as there's no bulky buckles under your leg.
Other changes I made to my aussie saddle include changing the stirrup leathers to Wintec Webbers so there's no buckle under my thigh and changing to endurance stirrups. I found that Snug Pax fit the saddle perfectly with no bounce or horse rubs (English Slimline in front, Uni in back). For our particular saddles (Down Under Master Campdraft Deluxe, which has a shorter flap and closer contact than most aussies), the Toklat Woolback Oversize Dressage pad fits the saddle perfectly. This pad has made a big improvement in saddle fit and horse comfort instead of the normal felt pad that we got with the saddles. They do make an aussie cut pad too, to accommodate the longer flap on most aussie saddles. I added a Cashel Australian Tush Cushion for comfort on those all day rides, but I'm thinking about trying a sheepskin instead. We also attached saddle strings to the back D rings on the saddles.