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So I have been tirelessly looking for a western saddle for my thoroughbred. Probably obvious, but I'm having a hell of a time.

I'm pretty sure that I take a 16" seat but I can't for the life of me find something that isn't full quarter horse. And in my budget. It looks like I MAY have found one saddle to try, he says it fit his thoroughbred well, but it's a 15" seat. Is one inch going to make it unbearable for my mare? I don't mind a snug seat and I honestly don't care if it's not the comfiest thing ever. I just don't want it to be bad for her.
 

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The horse probably won't know the difference. The tree itself may or may not be any smaller. Sometimes the smaller seat just means the cantle is placed a little more forward on the same bars.
 

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If you are really packed tight into the saddle seat, your weight will be pushing down hard on the cantle, and nothing will sore a horse faster than that. So, only you can say if you can fit a 15 or not.


What are riding in now?
 

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Depending on how you communicate with your seat. Me when I stop or back up I roll my self back on my pockets to cue my horse what I want. Also walking and loping I rock my pelvis also cueing the speed I want my horse to be at. Too tight a seat would keep me from cueing her correctly.
 

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I'm assuming that you know you need a 16" saddle? I only ask because if you are an english rider that is buying a western saddle then you may not realize that you actually go down an inch or two on size for western. For instance, you may ride in a 16" english saddle but only need a 15" western saddle. (I apologize for the assumption - you may very well know what size you need).

Are you looking for a particular style? I have never owned a TB but my first QH was built more like an Arab so he never fit the full QH saddle either. I ended up getting him an Arab western saddle. Hopefully people that have TBs will chime in. I know they are narrower and have the higher withers...
 

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I have a OTTB.
My horse "fits" a semi-bar saddle. But with a built-up cut back saddle pad a full tree fits too.
If your horse is of average build and nicely weighted, try a built-up cut back saddle pad to take up the extra space that to wide tree fit creates.
If this works it opens up a entire new choice of saddle for you to try. You lose nothing for trying...

As far as length of seat...
Yes, it will make a difference in comfort to you and especially to your horse!
When your body is squeezed into to small a seat that pushes you against/onto a cantle that should gently support, your cantle could instead be used as a compression point for overflowing bulk, creating excessive pressure on a very vulnerable location of the horses anatomy.
I'm sorry, I don't mean for that to be cruel but honest a comment.

From English to western conversion rule of thumb is 1.5" - maybe 2" smaller.
So, English 17.5" to me converts to no smaller than a 16" western seat since rare to see 15.5 seats.
That conversion only works providing you are riding in a properly sized English saddle to start with.
There is a sweet spot, every saddle has one, the deepest part of the seat ...
You sit deep in/on the wrong spot because you are squished...you bet you can sore your horse real quick.
You ride in to small a saddle your balance is also going to be thrown off and that is a issue on the horse, safety while moving and added stresses to his entire body. That makes a issue for you too..

Have you considered looking a bit larger seat instead of smaller? It is only a number...truly.
If your horse can handle a 16" size bet he can fit 1" more...need to make it shorter, look at round skirts versus square just saved you space!

Don't be someone who is number conscious cause no one sees numbers when astride..what you do see though is someone squished in to tight a seat and the horse paying the price.
Make sure you are sitting in the right size seat...if looking used, go sit in many different styles of saddle design and sit in a variety of manufacturers and seat sizes.
They are all different, rarely are any manufacturers the same unless using the same tree base for their saddle to be constructed on.

I found you 52 saddles of various make, tree widths, all used and under $1000 maximum located in many states and areas with 2 clicks of my mouse... https://www.horseclicks.com/western/A/saddles-for-sale?ads_pid=22&ads_lid=3&page=1
A bit of location shared would give some here a chance to help you search...many love to "shop" for others.
But what you propose, no...
No to to small a seat for you cause it is going to affect the horse over time astride...something you obviously are trying hard to avoid.
This is a sizable investment.

Get what is right so you over time are happy and comfortable, which in turn makes the horse most comfortable too.
:runninghorse2:...
jmo...
 

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FWIW, I normally ride a 16" saddle. Riding a 15" saddle isn't an issue for me but I don't tend to ride far on my pockets. I rode a 13" once. Felt a bit squished in but it did NOT make me put weight on the cantle.

"With the result that - at least in this case, though I expect it is a general rule - the center of pressure under a rider on a solid tree (important point, that!!) is not under his seat bones, which people generally use when thinking about rider position, but pretty much at the front of his body."




https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/center-pressure-under-saddle/
Also note a western saddle carries very little pressure to the rear. Peak pressures tend to be where the thighs overlap the stirrup leathers. As the cantle comes forward, the rider is forced to lower the stirrups to compensate. It kind of squishes you into a more vertical position. I like to keep my feet forward of my hips and a small enough saddle size eventually robs me of that option because the cantle shoves my hips over my feet regardless. But I rode the 13" saddle a few years back tagging along a sheep herd moving up into the mountains and it didn't force me to sit on the cantle (or lean on it).

So some of it comes down to your riding style and body build.

PS: If you use a too wide saddle tree on a too narrow horse and pad up, you increase the chance a spook will result in your saddle slipping off. How do I know?

March 2014: My first emergency dismount, from Mia...while at a full stop!
 

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Thank you for the detailed response! And no worries on sounding harsh, I needed to know what would work, would much rather have someone tell me the truth than try to sugar coat something.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I have a OTTB.

As far as length of seat...
Yes, it will make a difference in comfort to you and especially to your horse!
When your body is squeezed into to small a seat that pushes you against/onto a cantle that should gently support, your cantle could instead be used as a compression point for overflowing bulk, creating excessive pressure on a very vulnerable location of the horses anatomy.
I'm sorry, I don't mean for that to be cruel but honest a comment.

jmo...
Thank you for the detailed response! And no worries on sounding harsh, I needed to know what would work, would much rather have someone tell me the truth than try to sugar coat something.
 

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Good used Cutter and Ranch Cutter saddles should be easy enough to find with the bars and seat size you want. 17" is a fairly common seat size in a Cutting saddle and they tend to have a low cantle with a fairly low angle on them.

If you aren't doing any roping, one of those might fit you great.
 

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Treeless saddles for TB's

So I have been tirelessly looking for a western saddle for my thoroughbred. Probably obvious, but I'm having a hell of a time.

I'm pretty sure that I take a 16" seat but I can't for the life of me find something that isn't full quarter horse. And in my budget. It looks like I MAY have found one saddle to try, he says it fit his thoroughbred well, but it's a 15" seat. Is one inch going to make it unbearable for my mare? I don't mind a snug seat and I honestly don't care if it's not the comfiest thing ever. I just don't want it to be bad for her.
Depending on what discipline you are engaged in - DM me - I ride in and sell treeless saddles. They are the only ones that always fit my high-withered TB. We experienced nothing but bad luck for years with traditionally treed saddles. He was sore all the time. And now I have a beautiful, leather western saddle that fits him no matter what time of the year, or what condition we are in.
 

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Please no one take offense to this, I'm not trying to convince folks to do or not do a thing …

But bigger riders generally have better luck with treed saddles. The tree will assist in weight distribution, mounting, etc. Treeless saddles are awesome, don't get me wrong, I've ridden in a few that were decent and a few that were not so decent. But you have to be able to mount without putting undue strain on the stirrup, something heavy riders in general have a harder time doing (in general, not saying all by any means). Depending on how experienced the rider is, this may or may not be an issue. I've seen experienced heavy riders pop up onto a horse bareback with no assistance whatsoever, so obviously this is dependent on the rider's skill.

Also, depending on how much riding and what kind of riding, a treed saddle may or may not be beneficial to a treeless. Long trail rides, for instance, or rides over very steep terrain, necessitate good weight distribution for the horse to perform well, and heavy riders will benefit from a tree to spread the weight out across the horse's back rather than concentrate it on one point. When I take horses up into the mountains we're frequently in the saddle for 8 hours, and I wouldn't have the heart to put Dreams through that bareback. Plus, treeless saddles tend to shift forward and back going up and down steep terrain so you may have to ride with a breastcollar and crupper with a treeless saddle, when you may be able to get away with neither for a treed.

Of course, the OP may not ride this way and/or may not have issues being able to mount the way a treeless saddle requires, so this point may be moot. I just wanted to throw this information out there.

- Kai
 
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