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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm shopping for a "new" used English saddle and I'm finding that often the length of the tree is not provided. I know that an English saddle is not supposed to sit past the 18th rib on my horse. Is it okay if the padding of the saddle goes beyond the 18th rib as long as the tree is the right length? And, how can I figure out the length of the tree anyways?
 

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You measure from the centre of the head nail on one side (which fixes the front of the skirt) to the middle of the cantle. Your tape will run at an angle across the seat, which looks odd but is correct.

The 'end rib' rule, is not a rule at all, just a guideline. Technically it's better if the saddle panel doesn't extend past it (I presume you know how to find it and follow the angle up to the T18 vertebra) but in practical terms you sometimes need to fit past it.

A good example is short-backed draughts or cobs. These often carry large riders but don't really have room for long-seated saddles. In this case it's a compromise. Shoe-horning a large rider into a too-small saddle makes them more likely to wriggle about trying to get comfortable. It's often better to use a longer saddle, even though this may extend past the end rib, because the rider is less likely to fidget and the horse will generally be more comfortable as a result. Plus the longer saddle has a correspondingly longer panel - that means more panel on the horse's back carrying the same rider weight, so less pounds-per-square-inch.

As in everything there has to be common sense. You don't want a saddle reaching almost to the horse's croup. And you have to take into account the horse's back profile - the more curved it is the more potential for an over-long saddle to put pressure on the loins, though that also depends on the tree shape.

But don't reject a saddle out of hand simply because it fits slightly over the last rib. Ask a Western rider, because most of theirs do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
To clarify, I am looking for the length of the tree, not the length of the seat.
So, are you saying that the seat length measurement is the same as the tree length?
By looking at an English tree my common sense would tell me that the tree measurement would be to follow the slope of the cantle to its base and measure from the nail head to that point.
Though all saddles serve the same purpose, Western saddle tree's are shaped differently, especially near the rear, so placement relative to T18 (which they typically far exceed) is not a concern. Compared to English saddle and the tree also has a larger surface area. So, they have similarities... but I'm not sure I agree with that logic.
I have done mad amounts of research and have found that this is not an easy answer to come by, maybe this is just not a popular topic of concern? Who knows, But, like you said most of the time some good common sense is the best thing to go by.
Thanks for your insight, I do appreciate it.
 

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To clarify, I am looking for the length of the tree, not the length of the seat.
So, are you saying that the seat length measurement is the same as the tree length?
It's the only length measurement you'll ever find, so yes. As with many things saddlery-oriented, there are few absolutes. For example, if you buy a new saddle from Ideal, it'll often arrive 1/2" bigger than the requested size. This is because they start building it on the correct tree size but by the time leather and foam thickness are fitted it measures longer. Of course, if they fitted the head nails a little further back, it wouldn't be!

Contrast that with E Jeffries. I have an 18" Falcon Hawk Event upstairs stripped down to the tree. On the underside is written "17.5", so they obviously build on to a smaller tree, expecting the leather to add the extra half-inch, which in this case it had.
 
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