Western tack questions - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 07-10-2020, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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Western tack questions

I think I'm close to completing my western ensemble, but there are still some things I'm not totally sure about.

First of all, do I need a flank cinch? My saddle is 7/8ths rigged, and shifts around a little in the back while I lunge. I don't do any kind of crazy riding, but I wonder if a back cinch would stabilize my saddle better and prevent it from sliding forward. I haven't had a problem with saddle slippage, but he is downhill enough where I wouldn't be surprised if it happened on a harder trail ride.

Second, does it look like it sits right on his back? I'll post a picture, but I have no concept of how a western saddle is supposed to look. The pommel (Fork? Swell?) seems very high, but my trainer says it fits him well and I haven't had any dry or sore spots form, nor does the saddle roll. His back gets sweatier towards his rump than his withers, but I always attributed that to the extra movement. I check his back after every ride and he seems comfortable, never has he showed any signs of back pain.

And lastly, I'm using a one inch thick pad on him. The saddle doesn't roll with this pad, but is it overkill? Should I have a second, 3/4 inch pad for when he's fatter in the warmer months? I'm not sure how much pad selection really matters when it comes to weight fluctuations throughout the year. I use a five star pad, so having multiple pads could get very expensive...

Thanks in advance, it's been surprisingly difficult switching from English to western, there's a lot I need to learn.
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post #2 of 14 Old 07-10-2020, 05:43 PM
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So, to me and my opinion that saddle perches on top of his back not settles around it caressing his body.
The saddle cantle in this picture is popped off his back tells me fit is wrong.
Saddle could be to wide and even padded as it is sits to low or something else I can't determine from distance taken, padding in place what that is.
Would a rear cinch lock the saddle down, yes...but it should not need a lock-down done to it when lunging gently in a pen...as the spine and hip girdle move so should the saddle rear skirt move some in unison.
Would you benefit from the rear cinch on a butt high built horse doing steep downward trail work, yes it would stabilize your saddle some.
To me, a well fit saddle needs nothing more than a sheet to keep the fleece clean.
Sweat absorption is something different.
I wonder if what you see as to high would actually fit much better if you took out a inch of pad under a already padded underside of saddle...to much of a good thing?? don't know...
Try removing and using a thinner pad and see what it looks like...your eye is right that the saddle sits to high, sits above not around.
Same principles apply fitting western as English...wither clearance, spinal process clearance, levelness of saddle, no shoulder pinch, hugs the back caressing the barrel not perched on top...
Now look at your picture...


Your saddle by itself may be a good fit.
The padding you place underneath it though can change a fit from good to not so good to horrible...
Go back to step one...saddle fit alone.
If that is good then build on it by trying several pads in different thickness, material and shape and see what combination keeps that good fit...
Process of elimination and frustrating to make right...
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post #3 of 14 Old 07-10-2020, 08:13 PM
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Could you take a few more photos, in good light, and at various positions. Please try to be neither looking upward or downward onto the saddle, but at a height midway to it.



It does seem to 'perch' on the front, which to me means too narrow, or too steep of bars. Or maybe pad is too thick. Five star pads are the cream of the crop in quality, tho.


I think the saddle should have a rear cinch. I wonder if it is a tad too far forward? It may need to be tested to see it it is in its 'home'. Have tried tapping the front of the fork, with your hand, like sort of karate chopping it, so that it will move backward IF it wants to. But, if it's already in its 'home' , it will resist further movement.


the saddle looks like a very nice quality and comfortable one.
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post #4 of 14 Old 07-10-2020, 08:34 PM
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If the saddle fits I like a 3/4" for several reasons one being the horse can sense your seat cues easier and I like to be closer to the horse. If you need anything else a wool blanket can be added. As said above the saddle doesn't seem to be settling down and conforming to the shape of the horse so I question the fit. Tinyliny is right we need more pictures. I always use a back cinch and even with it the saddle will bounce at the back without the weight of the rider in it. Be careful with a rear cinch and only let it just kiss the belly unless you are doing some heavy duty roping. I also like a breast collar although I am not currently riding in one.
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post #5 of 14 Old 07-11-2020, 01:28 AM
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Bandit's saddle:


It lifts in the rear. That doesn't matter. First, the leather skirt was deliberately designed to raise up off the back. It was meant for a horse who had a bit of a bump back there. Second, I'm not IN the saddle, and my weight is what keeps the rear down. The only way to know is to sit in the saddle and FEEL for the tree. Different pad, but same horse and saddle:


However, I think it also looks more like it is down on and around the horse, versus perched on the back. Can't say for certain from pictures. You'll need to feel around underneath the saddle. Try the saddle without a pad - NOT for riding, but just to check fit. The pad won't change the fit except for raising the front off the withers. The saddle alone will help you feel if the tree is the same shape as the horse's back, with a little flare at the front and back. But western saddles do need the pad for riding. The fleece on most saddles doesn't give more than maybe 1/4 inch of pad and that isn't enough.

Based only on the picture, it looks like your saddle is too far forward. But you'll need to feel for the shoulder.

Lots of good info here:

Saddle fit - Western compared to English Part 2

Saddle fit - Western compared to English Part 3

Of cutlery and saddle fit...


You're saddling your horse wrong...


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post #6 of 14 Old 07-14-2020, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
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I finally got the chance to take some better pictures of his saddle, I've removed the seat cover this time to make the saddle itself a bit more visible.

My trainer said that since he's gotten fat with the grass, his pad is a bit too thick for him now, but only slightly. She also said that the saddle itself is still good, and that I should keep the thicker pad for his thinner winter body even if I invest in a thinner pad for his summer bod.

For reference I've taken pictures with the pad and without. It's 1 inch thick, so it certainly alters the fit.
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post #7 of 14 Old 07-14-2020, 02:02 PM
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Nice saddle and appears to fit decently well "naked".
No you don't need any 1" thick pad would mess up the fit terribly.
Not sure they do 1/4" - 1/2" pads, maybe a nice wool blanket long enough to either be folded completely in 1/2 or a nice wool blanket for the pretty designs they so often have and some form of a absorbent liner under it to protect not only the wool blanket but the wool lining under the saddle.


Not sure even if the horse dropped a ton of weight if you would need that 1" pad either.
You wouldn't be happy nor allow the horse to drop that significant a amount of weight either I think...
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post #8 of 14 Old 07-14-2020, 02:23 PM
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Did you try tapping it to see if it wants to slide back any more?
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post #9 of 14 Old 07-14-2020, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
Did you try tapping it to see if it wants to slide back any more?
I'll admit I'm not strong and I didn't force it back, but that seems to be where the saddle was happy to sit. I tend to put the saddle on intentionally too forward to start, then wiggle it back into place.

I've been cautioned by a few people to not use any pad thinner than 1/2 inch for western saddles, since the saddle itself has no padding. Though maybe it's worth a try, my horse isn't very sensitive and could probably tolerate sandpaper as a saddle pad without batting and eye.
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post #10 of 14 Old 07-14-2020, 02:44 PM
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It shouldn't take strength to see if saddle 'wants' to slide further back. I , too, put saddle on too far forward at first and then ease it back.



If it doesn't move by my hard tapping idea, then it IS in its home.
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