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Finding a saddle for a roly-poly pony

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Hello all! I have come to seek some wisdom on an age old struggle...fitting a saddle to the wither-less, barrel-shaped, short-backed pony. She is an extremely easy keeper who put on some pounds while I finished my degree and lived too far away to work her regularly.

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Now that I am back home, I am slowly bringing her back into work and am at the point where I can work on re-introducing tack...problem is, I don't have a saddle out here wide enough to accommodate those withers! I have been looking into Western saddles, Aussie saddles, and am also considering a treeless saddle from Ghost. I do not compete or show at this point, so the saddle just needs to be comfortable for arena work and trail riding. Does anyone have tips or brand recommendations for saddles with wide trees that are also suitable for short backs? The longest saddle skirt length she can fit is 26" front to back. I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I could afford to buy a saddle brand new as well, so cost should not be an issue. Thank you all in advance!

(PS...if anyone knows where to find western-style woven wool blankets that are 32" long or smaller, please let me know)
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I second an endurance saddle, Arab cut because she is short backed.

An Abetta would make sense as they aren’t that costly. I’m betting the saddle won’t fit her once you get her fit and back to a good weight and you will need to buy another one 🥴🥴
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think one of my horsey acquaintances actually has one of the synthetic Abetta endurance saddles for her Belgian mare! The design looks very familiar.

Really excellent point @walkinthewalk :ROFLMAO: I'm sure I could find a used Abetta in one of the shops around here at a fair price. When I got her in 2020 she was so pitifully thin and narrow and she has since filled out a lot and her chest has deepened, so it's currently hard to tell what's actual conformation and what's fat! Thank you both for your input :)
 

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You can find 5Stars or Diamond wool pads in 32. That’s what I use.

I’d recommend a Corriente. You have to have a wide horse to fit them, but they work on my mutton withered short backed horses.
 

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Hello all! I have come to seek some wisdom on an age old struggle...fitting a saddle to the wither-less, barrel-shaped, short-backed pony. She is an extremely easy keeper who put on some pounds while I finished my degree and lived too far away to work her regularly.

View attachment 1135878 View attachment 1135879

Now that I am back home, I am slowly bringing her back into work and am at the point where I can work on re-introducing tack...problem is, I don't have a saddle out here wide enough to accommodate those withers! I have been looking into Western saddles, Aussie saddles, and am also considering a treeless saddle from Ghost. I do not compete or show at this point, so the saddle just needs to be comfortable for arena work and trail riding. Does anyone have tips or brand recommendations for saddles with wide trees that are also suitable for short backs? The longest saddle skirt length she can fit is 26" front to back. I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I could afford to buy a saddle brand new as well, so cost should not be an issue. Thank you all in advance!

(PS...if anyone knows where to find western-style woven wool blankets that are 32" long or smaller, please let me know)
Since she's also croup-high, I'd make extra sure that whatever saddle you get fits well on her shoulders--you don't want any added pressure there😄 I agree with everyone on getting an endurance or treeless saddle. IMO, with a hard to fit horse, it's better to have a comfy saddle without a tree and perhaps more localized pressure under the rider than ouchy pressure points from an ill-fitting tree.
 

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I have a 13 hand pony with a super wide barrel and tiny, forward girth groove. I even thought she was pregnant last year. Unfortunately, this is her anatomy even when her ribs are easily felt.

Even my widest treed saddle I used on a previous mare shaped like a light bulb sits over her shoulder.

I am riding her in a Ghost Torino.

I use the sliding V rigging, which seems to work better with the forward girth. The flaps can sit over the shoulder slightly in a treeless. The Ghost also works for the really short back because the weight bearing area does not extend behind the rider's seat.
I use a very flat mohair girth and haven't had rubbing issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
@gottatrot @Myrrhydian Thank you both! I definitely plan on ordering a Ghost in the next few months, but since I am going to order a custom design there will be a long wait before it gets here.

In the meantime, I do actually have access to a "Cashel Soft Saddle" that I had forgotten about. It's not the best solution but better than nothing in the meantime, especially since it's free:
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It offers more padding and structure than a regular bareback pad but has less weight distribution and stability than a good treeless saddle. I will also be keeping an eye out at local tack consignment shops to see what's available. Thank you all for your input!
 

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I will mention that treeless saddles can be difficult to mount from the ground without having them slip. Not sure how important that is to you. When I first started riding in treeless saddles a few years ago, I was very concerned about their safety and stability because I rode hot and spooky horses. I've never had an issue with a saddle sliding during a spook, rear or on a running horse. I don't use a breast collar either. That being said, I often have difficulty getting on from the ground unless the girth is tight enough, and I usually find something to get on such as a log or area of raised ground.

With the cashel saddle, I'd be careful about using the stirrups because it does have less structure than a treeless saddle and might slip if you put too much pressure in one stirrup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I will mention that treeless saddles can be difficult to mount from the ground without having them slip. Not sure how important that is to you. When I first started riding in treeless saddles a few years ago, I was very concerned about their safety and stability because I rode hot and spooky horses. I've never had an issue with a saddle sliding during a spook, rear or on a running horse. I don't use a breast collar either. That being said, I often have difficulty getting on from the ground unless the girth is tight enough, and I usually find something to get on such as a log or area of raised ground.

With the cashel saddle, I'd be careful about using the stirrups because it does have less structure than a treeless saddle and might slip if you put too much pressure in one stirrup.
That is the main reason why I was hesitant to consider the soft saddle. I will give it a few trial rides at a nice and steady walk and see how stable it feels. I make my own mohair tack, so I have several different breastcollars to choose from to help stabilize it.

That is a good point to bring up regarding treeless saddles and mounting. While I am capable of doing so, I don't mount from the ground if I can help it, even on my pony. Makes it easier on my knees & hips and my horse's back. I am glad to hear that treeless saddles remain in place even when things get a little hairy!
 
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