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I'm looking to buy a cheap A/P or close contact saddle to practice in and maybe do some showing in until I have the money to buy a better one (the barn I'm at only has dressage saddles). There's a lesson barn near me with somewhere around 50 used saddles each for $35 :shock: A lot of them are in really good condition and I'm super excited to go look at them :D However, since there are so many and it's just a low-key lesson/camp barn, no one knows off-hand the size of the saddles. I know that some of them will have this printed somewhere on them, but a bunch of them probably won't.

So: how do I measure them? Where's the best place to start & end to measure seat size, and how do I go about measuring tree width? What do I measure between and what is the average cm size of a medium tree? Is there anything else I should be looking for, such as gullet width (is the three finger rule a good one)?

I don't want to walk away all proud with a decent saddle I only spent 35 bucks on just to find out that I picked a ridiculously narrow or wide one and have to buy another. :p
 

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youtube is full of videos that explain what you need. Some of the best saddle fitting videos there are by master saddler Jochen Schleese. Don't worry, he speaks fluent english.

Seat length is easy. Measure from the button on either side of the pommel to the center of the top of the cantle.
 

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When I go look at used saddles with no horse in tow, I bring:
1: my measuring tape to check the seat size
2: I use a flexicurve to trace my horse's back where the tree points of the saddle will sit - about 2" behind his scapula. Then I trace this onto a piece of cardboard and cut it out. I do the same along the length of his spine, about 1.5" from his spine - where the panels will sit. Then I bring my cardboard "horse" with me.
3: my flexicurve. I use this to try to follow the tree-shape on the saddle I'm looking at. Then I lay the flexicurve over my cardboard "horse" and see if the shape and angle of the tree points will sit nicely on his back or if they will pinch or be too wide.
4: If I can't find my flexicurve, I bring two shishkabob sticks. I use these to lay along the tree points of the saddle so I can see what angle they make where they end up crossing. That at least lets me see if the tree angle is about the same as the angle of my horse's back where the tree points will sit.
5: Lay the cardboard cutout of the length of your hrose's back along the length of the panels to see if the shape fits along the length.

Happy shopping!
 

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If you decide to buy over the internet, be aware that many people have no clue how to measure their saddles and will give you inaccurate information! I purchased a dressage saddle that the woman said had a wide tree. Ummm....nooooo......it was a very narrow tree! Luckily I was able to resell it for more than I paid for it.
If you do buy over the internet, ask them to take pictures while doing the measurements (lesson learned) so you can see for yourself. Good Luck!!
 
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If you decide to buy over the internet, be aware that many people have no clue how to measure their saddles and will give you inaccurate information!
EXACTLY! I've very rarely seen a saddle on eBay or Craigslist with any kind of accurate tree measurement or description. And getting the correct information out of a seller who doesn't understand the measurements is extremely difficult. It seems like people eyeball the gullet-width and say "meh - looks kind of medium tree-ish to me", then state that as fact in the ad - often quite convincingly. You can have a narrow gullet on a wide tree and a wide gullet on a narrow tree, and everything in between. If only all makers would stamp their tree and seat sizes on the flap... I mean, how much could that possibly cost them?
 
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