Saddles for a total enduro newb - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 02-02-2020, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: New Brunswick Canada
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Saddles for a total enduro newb

I know this is a loaded question, but I have zero experience with endurance saddles.

I have decided to sell all my western saddles and invest in a well fitting saddle now that Trouble is over 6, and I've decided to go with an endurance type saddle for function and comfort, as there's really no point in lugging my sketchy, not-very-well-fitting (either of us) hand me down western saddles all over when we're just sticking to trails. Plus frankly, I find my western saddles incredibly uncomfortable, and after I hurt my back getting thrown I realized there's zero reason why I can't be sitting in a cushioned, sheep skin lined, semi-custom saddle without the bulk of too long fenders and torque of stiff stirrups prying on my hip. The lightness, close contact, customization, and fitting options call to me.

However I know nothing of endurance saddles. I did a bit of googling but there's an incredible amount of conflicting information out there. I know nothing of brands other than across the board cheapies to stay away from like King. Wintec caught my eye but western wintecs have been atrocious for me. I also don't know what kind of rigging is optimal, adjustments, fitting, seat size, there's changeable gullets that are new to me, interchangeable seats (?!) and I saw gullet pads and treeless parts, english, western and aussie styles. It's a bit overwhelming.

I take a 16-16.5 inch seat in a western seat, I'm assuming Trouble would take a wide tree now, since he rocketed to 1200 pounds and settled at 16.1 hands now that he finally stopped growing. I have incredibly short legs, take a 28 inch inseam, and western fenders are usually bulky and put me in a weird position, so I like the option of having leathers. Since Trouble's still only 6 and fresh, I would want something with a deep seat and maybe bucking rolls, but I like the lack of horn.

So, if anyone has any recommendations, websites, information or advice I'm all ears. I would also love some direction to sites that sell endurance tack, be it biothane or leather, as he grew out of his breast collar, to my dismay, and I'll need a new bridle for our S hack that should be here soon.

Basically, I need everything new. I'm switching disciplines I guess, from S hack nose bands to crupper, saddle, pad and reins I need everything new. As for a budget, I'd like to stay under 2000 for a saddle, preferably closer to 1300 and under.

Also PS, I'll add some new, updated pictures of my monster soon, since no one has seen him in awhile.

ETA I thought I'd add that western treeless has scared me away from treeless saddles, since I'm heavy, and my seat isn't going to be very great until I put some miles in and it returns. I see that treeless is popular in endurance but I'm not one of those lean, muscly, butt-of-glue, horse-is-the-extension-of-my-body endurance riders yet

Last edited by WhattaTroublemaker; 02-02-2020 at 12:48 PM.
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post #2 of 24 Old 02-02-2020, 01:48 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Location: California
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I like my Abetta endurance for trail rides. I usually alternate between my Wintec dressage and the Abetta, but if I go on a group ride, I often like the Abetta for the comfort (plus the pommel swell sans horn) and the fact that my trail bags just seem to fit better with the Abetta. Full sheepskin fleece seat savers on both saddles (Wintec and Abetta) so it's nice and soft to sit in. When I first started using it, I swapped out the fenders for leathers, and it worked out nicely (right now, I have full fenders and stirrup turners, but am considering going back to the biothane leathers with sheepskin sleeves) The company did just stop making them, but they shouldn't be too hard to find, but of course, they are somewhat lower-end saddles and if you have the means (read: money) to go better, then by all means go for better. I'd love to get a Specialized Ultralight, but I am horse poor, and cannot.

As far as bridles, etc. ... I've got a Zilco set that I like. The colors only come in Arab, so not sure how they'd fit on your guy, but I have a mish-mash of other tack makers with my turquoise biothane set (Taylored Tack breastcollar, American Trail Gear snap-on headstall and halter, The Distance Depot reins) and those are all really good.
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post #3 of 24 Old 02-02-2020, 02:40 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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This should be fun; seeing what folks come up with as suggestions. I don't know anything about endurance saddles, so can't make any recommendations at all. I can say that if you have lower back troubles, shorter , more 'positionable' stirrups, such as 'English' style, may help with that. Of course, your knees may then start talking to you.

I'm looking forward to see what comes out of our saddle gurus here! Endurance riding would be my first choice if I was younger and had a horse.
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post #4 of 24 Old 02-10-2020, 10:25 AM
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: the West
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I've ridden in many different endurance saddles over the years, and either they are all comfortable or I just get use to them.
Currently I'm using two: one is an Arabian Saddle (solstice), and a Specialized Saddle (international).

I was able to velcro bucking rolls on the Arabian saddle (actually I didn't put them on, my boss did, and I just left them). It's a real comfy saddle, and it actually seemed to perfectly fit 2 totally different shaped horses - a broad fat one and an angular skinny one.

The advantage to the Specialized saddles are that the shims that are velcroed to the bottom of the saddle can be fit exactly to your horse's back. So, say you had 2 horses built totally differently, you can have 1 saddle and 2 sets of shims, each fitting the horses just right. Your SS saddle dealer should know how to fit the shims/saddle to your horse. And if he changes over the years you just get the shims re-fitted.

"I realized there's zero reason why I can't be sitting in a cushioned, sheep skin lined," - yes! you deserve sheep skin! Get a cover for your saddle! You'll never go back and there's no reason you should! :)

Also if your saddle fits right you may not need a crupper, but doesn't hurt to have one and have your horse used to one. My headstalls/bridles and breast collar are all a form of biothane. It's usually quite sturdy and is easy to clean. has several saddle and tack advertisers that carry a lot of endurance gear companies.
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post #5 of 24 Old 02-10-2020, 11:49 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2017
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The two people I know who ride endurance both love Sharon Saare saddles.
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post #6 of 24 Old 02-10-2020, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Arizona
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The only endurance saddle I ever tried was so uncomfortable for me that I sold it (Big Horn). So don't assume, just because it's an endurance saddle it will automatically be comfortable.

Also, you can put sheepskin in ANY saddle. I have all my western saddles set up with real sheepskin seat covers.

But, I do eye a good "trail saddle." There are a lot of nice hornless trail-type saddles out there. If I had the money I would look at Tucker and Steele.

I only tried a Tucker once and I wanted it sooo bad but it didn't fit the horse I had at the time.

Steele I have only seen from their website, but they sure talk a good game!

Both are out of my price range unless I find one used. It used to be you could get a Tucker for around $1300 but it seems like the have gone up quite a bit. Might be able to find one second hand though.

Should mention Allegany too. Sigh......if I won the lotto.

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post #7 of 24 Old 02-10-2020, 02:29 PM
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Canada
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I am currently on the hunt for an endurance saddle that fits my mare. The amount of information out there IS overwhelming.

I am currently trialing an IMUS saddle from Phoenix Rising Saddlery. Unfortunately it does not seem to fit my mare, but I rode some pretty challenging terrain yesterday and found it extremely comfortable for me. (it has a seat saver and I felt very spoiled!)

I have heard really good things about Tucker saddles.

I tried out a Bighorn endurance saddle and really disliked it.

I'm not sure if where you are you have the opportunity to trial saddles as that is the only way you will know what you like.

I was messaging Desoto Saddlery and that is one option I am looking at if I decide i need to go custom for my mare. The maker rode endurance for years so knows how important saddle fit and comfort are. I was very impressed when I was messaging her for details.

You can also check out fit to ride on FB as she may have some ideas (I believe she is based out of Ontario). There is also a Canada - Endurance Tack & Horse Swap page on FB that has items for sale.

I know too well the frustrations of saddle shopping. My issues are compounded by having a VERY hard to fit mare. I think I will have to ride in treeless for a bit as my only other option appears custom.

Best of luck!
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post #8 of 24 Old 02-10-2020, 03:05 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Location: California
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And as of a few days ago, I no longer have a Wintec dressage or Abetta endurance. I've been trying to clean out my tack shed, as it's about the size of a closet (but all mine, thank goodness) and 5 saddles and only one horse for them all (plus, one of the saddles doesn't fit him at all, my cheapo western) were a bit ridiculous. Not to mention I saw a Freeform treeless saddle on one of my endurance FB sales groups and the price was right so ... I got rid of a few saddles. Still have a dressage saddle, but a friend tried my Wintec and loved it, so she bought it and I sold my Abetta as I have an almost exact same saddle by the parent company of Abetta and didn't need 2 matching saddles (it was supposed to be a 'spare horse' saddle as it's a bit more rough looking than the Abetta is, but I haven't got a 'spare' horse anyway) I'll have to see how much I like the Freeform, but if it all works out, it might become my main trail saddle. I've heard good reviews about them, and lots of Tevis riders like to use them.

My bridles and things are all beta biothane now. I only have one leather bridle left and that's the fancy dressage one. Beta is so easy to clean, just chuck it in a bucket and hang to dry.
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post #9 of 24 Old 02-10-2020, 03:06 PM
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Minnesota
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Ok so the deal with true endurance saddles is they're not particularly comfortable for walking. They're usually great for posting trot or cantering but more than short walking distances are pretty brutal.

Agree with the others, no matter what kind of saddle you get buy a sheepskin. That'll make all of the difference! I'm not a huge fan of gel/cushions (at least the cheaper versions) because they never seem to stay in place but some people like them. I think @phantomhorse13 has a Thinline pad on her saddle right now that she likes.

As far as saddle brands go: my current/newest addition is a Specialized. I'm so far in love with it and it seems to fit my horse really well. I have an Ultralight and it is light, comfortable (I have like a furry seat on it so I don't need a sheepskin), very secure (for Arabian teleportation moves), and has leathers which I'm really liking for knee comfort. See above comment about not being the most comfortable to walk super far in though.

My other go to is an Abetta endurance. Mine has a sheepskin on it which helps a lot but it does have fenders. I've seen people take them off though and switch to leathers. Seems to fit several of our horses pretty well. See above comment about not being the most comfortable to walk super far in as well.

Tuckers are loved by trail riders, not as much if you're looking to do endurance. They're pretty heavy (as far as endurance saddles go) and they don't seem to really fit most horses well.

Reactor Panels are also pretty common in this area and people seem to like them a lot.
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post #10 of 24 Old 02-10-2020, 03:20 PM
Join Date: Feb 2020
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I've always wondered how important weight of the saddle really is when it comes to endurance. For example I'm only around 110 lbs. sopping wet. If, theoretically, I was doing long distance would it really make a difference to my horse if the saddle isn't feather light and instead more of a traditional trail saddle? And what is the difference between a good trail or endurance saddle? Is an endurance saddle easy to move in for very long distances and a trail comfortable to sit in for short?

I have an interest in endurance but I've seen a lot of people also say that what really matters is getting a saddle that's comfortable/works for you and your horse whether or not it's marketed for endurance.
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