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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I would like a second opinion on this saddle fitting. I did get a saddle fitter out, and it did apparently fit however there seems to be a little bit of pressure in the bars by the wither in my personal opinion. I was wondering if someone who rides western more understands whether the tree's angle is wrong for my horse? We have no western qualified fitters where I live, so I've just been relying on research and hoping that the English fitters can work it out too. I am just changing to Western, so it's all new to me :)

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I do not have as good of an eye as others, but since no one else posted...

The bar angle does not look too bad.
The clearance does not look too bad either.
The skirt seems a little long....? It may (or may not) rub.
That's about all I can say...

I don't know.... I can't really tell. We need better pictures. These pictures include the whole saddle, from the front, side, and behind. We need to be able to see the balance of the saddle - seeing if it is twisted, broken, "downhill", "uphill", rock(ing), briding, et cetera... Pictures of a bare naked back would also be helpful. Lateral (side) and behind (to show shoulder conformation).
 

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Without a side view of the entire animal it is near impossible to give a opinion.
I would also like to see a picture of the animal from the side naked to see shape of the back.
🐴...
 

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Looks pretty close. But you'll need to FEEL how the bars match your horse's back. Just place your hand under various sections of the tree and feel for any poking or any gaps. Then walk your horse through some figure 8s and see if the shoulders or hips are being poked. If not, add a pad and mount up. See how your horse moves. If you can't find any poking, gaps, and can mount up without needing to pray to Thor for strength as you tighten the cinch, you are probably good to go.

You want the TREE to fit like this:





This is bad:



This is good:



But the leather skirts of a saddle can be deceiving, so in the end, you need to feel underneath. Too much flare at the front and back is better than too little. This would not be ideal, but it wouldn't harm the horse:



But while it wouldn't HURT the horse, it wouldn't HELP you as a rider. Too much flare at the ends. It would shift around too easily on your horse's back and things could go ugly in a spook. A rule of thumb I use is I want to be able to mount from the ground with a somewhat loose cinch. That isn't possible with all horses regardless of saddle fit. And a saddle that bridges, with a gap in the middle of the tree, will be very stable on the horse and also painful for the horse. So it comes back to feeling underneath, and just trying it out.

Many of the rules taught for saddle fitting don't apply to western saddles. These links provide good information:

Saddle fit - Western compared to English Part 2

Saddle fit - Western compared to English Part 3
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you guys for your replies. I have a bunch more photos. I had a fitter look at it but my gut is saying perhaps not, particularly as my horse seems unhappy and tense.

Detailed thoughts:
•Gullet wither clearance seems okay.
•The tree angle looks a little off, when I run my hand under it is tighter around the embellishment by gullet, to a hand further back and the front of tree.
•If I run my hand underneath the tree backwards along saddle it is hard for me to tell if it is bridging or not.
•At standing still, the back of the saddle is as pictured, but as soon as horse moves it lifts, and when I ride it does, and definitely lunging it’s pinging off his back.
•It doesnt rock.
•It sits stable in the pocket behind wither except when moving it lifts.
•The length (particularly when I add my pad) seems long.
•It clears his spine.
•When worked there are even sweat patches (he is worked with a 1 inch wool pad)
• It may be slipping back with pad

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Discussion Starter #6
Looks pretty close. But you'll need to FEEL how the bars match your horse's back. Just place your hand under various sections of the tree and feel for any poking or any gaps. Then walk your horse through some figure 8s and see if the shoulders or hips are being poked. If not, add a pad and mount up. See how your horse moves. If you can't find any poking, gaps, and can mount up without needing to pray to Thor for strength as you tighten the cinch, you are probably good to go.

You want the TREE to fit like this:





This is bad:



This is good:



But the leather skirts of a saddle can be deceiving, so in the end, you need to feel underneath. Too much flare at the front and back is better than too little. This would not be ideal, but it wouldn't harm the horse:



But while it wouldn't HURT the horse, it wouldn't HELP you as a rider. Too much flare at the ends. It would shift around too easily on your horse's back and things could go ugly in a spook. A rule of thumb I use is I want to be able to mount from the ground with a somewhat loose cinch. That isn't possible with all horses regardless of saddle fit. And a saddle that bridges, with a gap in the middle of the tree, will be very stable on the horse and also painful for the horse. So it comes back to feeling underneath, and just trying it out.

Many of the rules taught for saddle fitting don't apply to western saddles. These links provide good information:

Saddle fit - Western compared to English Part 2

Saddle fit - Western compared to English Part 3
Thank you for such a detailed reply. I feel around and it seems tight on shoulders, the tree ends up going back without bridging I think.
I feel like maybe he needs more flare at the front? When I walk him he seems uncomfortable with it, and when he turns he prefers to move his front feet around rather than bending.
On mounting he seems tense and throws his head up, and sometimes shoots forwards.
 

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Did you do all the under-saddle feeling from both sides?
There should be a difference in what you feel cause your boy is obviously left side dominant in his build...
Now to which side you search for the fit...
I would think you fit to the dominant side for comfort and shim/pad to even the fit on the side needing buildup of muscle..

Based on what you mention of his movement and what that picture shows and how the saddle sits...
I think he is being pinched on his left shoulder/wither and moving anatomy of that location.
🐴...jmo..
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Did you do all the under-saddle feeling from both sides?
There should be a difference in what you feel cause your boy is obviously left side dominant in his build...
Now to which side you search for the fit...
I would think you fit to the dominant side for comfort and shim/pad to even the fit on the side needing buildup of muscle..

Based on what you mention of his movement and what that picture shows and how the saddle sits...
I think he is being pinched on his left shoulder/wither and moving anatomy of that location.
🐴...jmo..
I did notice it fit nicer on the right side, yeah, and there was less pressure but some still existed.
From your opinion, what would I be looking to change so it fits better on his left side? Do I need to reduce the tree angle, change gullet? It is a FQHB at the moment.
Additionally, do you believe it’s too long? Thank you for your help, appreciate it!
 

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I think you need to fit to the left side, the side with more bulk and buildup not the other way around.
You need to make him comfortable is not to apply more "tight" but to fit the "tighter" side and then pad the lesser side while you work more to that lesser direction to build his anatomy more.
I think of it this way...a to tight shoe is never comfortable, but wear a bit larger and put a pad inside where it slips takes up that difference and makes me a happier hiker.;)
There is no standards for fit of saddle trees...every manufacturer has their own design and supplier as only a few manufacturers do exist for trees...
The angle of the bars is what does make a difference often times.
Wider as in going to draft sized gullet is a no..
I can tell you when I searched for a saddle for me, SQHB and FQHB were very different depending upon whose brand it is...as in sometimes inches differences.

Is the saddle to long...no.
You are looking at the skirts, but that is not the tree edge.
Look again at the pictures bsms shared and now consider where that tree is going to land on the back/loin area.
You will need a saddle-pad that will protect from rub/abrasion as the skirts sit right at a area of good movement of pelvis and bounce of the spine at all gaits...
If you not want such close to the pelvic girdle than look to round skirts or a saddle with square but not as full as this saddle has.
They also make a single skirt saddle but not sure that would make it much different...
I too like the look of a double skirt saddle, but skirts do come in different sizes I've noticed over the years of admiring tack.
🐴...
 

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If there isn't enough flare at the front, it can help to place the saddle a couple of inches back. If it slides forward when riding, that won't help. My Abetta has less flare in the front than I'd like and I place it a couple inches further back than my leather saddle.

Most western saddles - certainly every one I've ridden - will lift in the back when lunging. The rider's weight will keep it down somewhat, but I find my western saddles tend to float at the rear, just above the back. That isn't a bad thing. At a canter, when the back rotates up and forward, it allows the back to slip under the saddle.




Notice the weight tends to concentrate where the rider's legs are. Every pressure mat picture I've seen from western saddles puts more pressure on the front. Very little pressure at the rear of the saddle. The center of pressure is at the rider's belt buckle, not the rump. That is a stationary shot. Pressure pads apparently are hard to read with motion, but I suspect a canter would show increased pressure to the rear - but still less than at the front.

That is IMHO one of the reasons western saddles can extend well onto the loin - they extend there, but put little pressure there.
 

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Bandit with my leather saddle and without my weight to put the rear down. You can see the rear is lifted a little - although that is partially due to how the leather skirts where shaped - the saddle was designed for a horse with a bit of a bump and they wanted to make sure the skirts couldn't hit it:



Much more so when he drops his head to eat:



Riding at a walk, I can reach back and slip my fingers under the rear edge of the tree. I doubt I could at a trot or canter, but I've never figured out how to try it!

Good luck! Saddle fit is someone one learns by experiment. Some guidance helps but it is tough to see what happens under the saddle - where it counts.
 

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I assume that your horse's negative reaction were when you sued the saddle with a thick pad, right? that would help raise the saddle off the back a bit, lessen any interferancce with the loin and possible help in front.

However, I think I recognize that saddle type. It's a Billy Cook, no? I rode in one for years, and I always felt that there was not enough flair in the front and it was not allowing for free shoulder movement. But, the owner of this leased horse had always used it, so she felt ok about it, and the horse was very stoic, so never really complained.

One thing I did was to do some shimming in the front, (graduated from very thin at the back to about a third of a inch at the front edge of the shim) to lift the front off a bit to allow for shoulder movement..
Try using a thin towel that you can fold inn such a way that it is single layer in the back third, then double in the middle part, then quadruple at front edge, that is placed just behind the shoulder, in the deepest part of the pocket behind shoulder. this forms a kind of wedge, but a slim one.
 
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