specific saddle fit questions - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-26-2016, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Northern MN
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specific saddle fit questions

Had a nice Tex Tan Hereford barrel saddle last summer, seemed like the bars were too wide for our mare as it always slid forward and pinched high on her shoulders. I basically traded it for an odd-named saddle that seemed to fit much better. Now I'm questioning this one, too.

Cyclone, our sorrel QH mare, is about 15 y.o. and a little fat right now with maybe a slight, slight sway back. This saddle seems like it slides forward from where I initially cinch it, to a point that I think is too far forward. (SIDE NOTE: I'm just a novice, but it seems like I see this happen with other horses and their saddles all the time.) Also there's only about 1" clearance between her withers and the pommel BEFORE it eventually slides forward. I'm afraid it might touch her withers at times while riding, but haven't witnessed it and she hasn't let me know.

Now we have another QH mare (Echo) that has a definite sway back. She's actually about to pop out a foal so I hope her back straightens up a bit later. She's high-withered and this saddle definitely doesn't work for her with the pad we have.

1. Is it likely best to just get rid of this saddle and try on a whole bunch until we find one or two that work on these mares?
(If 'no' or 'maybe not' to #1)
2. Can I make this saddle work with either horse by using special built-up pads?
3. Is it possible that Echo's back will come up enough after she foals to drastically change the way this saddle fits?
4. Is it possible to get Cyclone's muscles built up a bit in the shoulder area such that this saddle stays put? I ask this because it's weird to me that both saddles did/do the same thing on her, and it just seems to me like she's lacking muscles up there that other horses have.

If anyone's interested maybe I'll get some pics for reference.

Thanks for reading!
JAultman is offline  
post #2 of 8 Old 04-26-2016, 04:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Saskatchewan
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It is quite difficult to give an opinion with pics to see how it does fit, but from your descriptions sounds like you maybe on the saddle hunt again.

“Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to stupidity”
Golden Horse is offline  
post #3 of 8 Old 04-26-2016, 05:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Cambridge, MN
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Went to a couple of hours of saddle seminars over the weekend and one of the rants of the presenters is that most trees don't have enough curvature to settle properly on a horse's back. The result is that they bridge and only rest on two points in front and two in back, with no stability. She had nice things to say about saddles from Crate and Bighorn and likes the Equifit trees.

But I don't know anything about saddles. I'm still riding in one I got for Christmas 50 years ago. It's way too small for me but seems to fit my horse OK.
Joel Reiter is offline  
post #4 of 8 Old 04-27-2016, 08:01 AM
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^Yeah, unfortunately saddles are still generally(unless you've got money for a custom job) made more to look/feel nice to the rider, way too frequently at the expense of the horse & 'rock' is one of the big problems - be that too much, esp with a lot of English & stock, or not enough, esp with many westerns. Of course, as Golden said, without good pics, who knows, but I'd suspect more as Joel says, rather than the first being too wide - they should be wide enough to not put pressure on the shoulders at all. Position of the cinch/girth points is also another big problem, with them being too far back, which forces the saddle forward when the horse moves. No, if a saddle doesn't fit, *generally* extra, special padding is not good enough to make it so.

It may be possible to have a saddler put on extra girth points, if that's the problem, or adjust in such a way as to suit the horse better.

Your pregnant horse may develop her back more after having her foal & getting fit. Or she may not. She may also need a chiro adjustment or few in order to do so. If the saddle bridges or otherwise doesn't fit, that's not helping, may be contributing to the 'sway'. If the horses are differently shaped, esp if one's sway backed, then it's unlikely you will get by with the same saddle for both.
loosie is offline  
post #5 of 8 Old 05-04-2016, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Northern MN
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Here are some pictures of the red mare (Cyclone) with and without the saddle. What can you see, if anything, from these? The pic looking straight back at her from her head is to show the fork/gullet and the very low clearance.
JAultman is offline  
post #6 of 8 Old 05-06-2016, 04:58 PM
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Central Oregon
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I am certainly no expert, but I see your concern with it sitting so low over the withers. My mare has really WIDE shoulders (not so much a wide flat back, that's more normal-shaped, but her shoulder blades are far away from her barrel and need a lot of clearance especially when she moves), and I used a western saddle on her for a while that looked a lot like yours, and even touched her withers when I put it on her without a pad. What I did to make it work in the interim until I got a better-fitting saddle was use a cutback pad with some built-up padding around the wither cutback area. This lifted it up off her withers, and the fact there wasn't even any pad where her withers were ensured she wasn't getting too much pressure there, and the width of the saddle (it was a draft saddle) gave her shoulders room to move.

However, what I ended up with is an SR Enduro saddle that has a much smaller footprint (while still distributing my ample weight well), and sits back further than most westerns do. I bought it used, so it was custom-built for a different horse, but it snuggles right into her back like it was made for her, and sits just behind the traveling range of her shoulder blade.

It looks like the swayed back is going to be your issue where the shoulders were my issue, so it's definitely a whole different thing and my solution won't be your solution, but I'd definitely be on the lookout for saddles that are made to fit the shape your horse is, in general. Ask around for brands that tend to fit sway backs, or go for a fully custom tree if you can. And in the meantime, do what you can to both get the saddle off the withers, and see if shimming in the center will provide more even pressure--the problem with such a curvy back is that all your weight may be resting on a few small points at the front and back of the saddle, rather than the saddle evenly distributing your weight. Good luck!
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sabowin is offline  
post #7 of 8 Old 05-06-2016, 06:38 PM
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A little sway backed.

With the caveat that I am neither an expert on conformation, rehabilitation or saddle fit/making....

I'd recommend calling a quality saddle maker and see if you can send them some pics for a recommendation. Talk to a custom saddle maker, one who builds saddles from back tracings. They are used to making good saddles for "Grade" horses, because in the real world Cowboys ride a lot of em.

Hopefully you'll find a good samaritan that wants what is best for your horse and has some ideas on how what is going to fit her.

The padding is an issue to consider. I've had people with a lot more hours in the saddle than me tell me that the spots on your pad that have the most sweat need to be thinned out a little, not built up. I plead the 5th, but I've tried it and it helped an Arabian Gelding that is about 17 that I like to ride. Your mileage may vary.
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post #8 of 8 Old 05-06-2016, 09:00 PM
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I think it is definitely too close to the withers - once a riders weight is on the saddle and the horse is moving it could easily hit. It can be good to see some pictures with the saddle on the horses back without a pad.

When you have the saddle on, put some on the seat with your hand and run your other hand under it, feel if there are any gaps where it isn't meeting the back, or where there is increased pressure. It can give you idea of what shape you need.

There are saddle pads that built up in the middle to fill in the gaps in a sway back. I don't think you'll have an easy time finding a western that will fit correctly on your horses back without corrective pads, merely because western trees are so straight.

In this case I think that if you could get out a good saddle fitter who has a range of saddles and pads to try on your horse, that would be the best option. Otherwise you may find yourself wasting money and time trying to find solutions.

There's also a sub-forum dedicated to saddle fitting, under tack and equipment :)
Saskia is offline  

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