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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Figured I’d post this here since it’s about a trail saddle.

I’ll keep this short and sweet. I’m currently in the market for a new western trail saddle and have been browsing options on Horse Saddle Shop. I’ve narrowed down my options to wanting a Lady Trail (either Big Horn, Fabtron or their in-house South Bend model). I think those three saddles have the gullet size Mitch needs, FQHB and and a short roundish skirt for his short back (as well as having a narrow twist, my current western endurance saddle has a wide one and I feel a little numb after an hour or two in the saddle)

Thing is, they all have a 5” cantle. I normally ride in a 16” with a 4” cantle and like to feel comfortable, but not wedged in. Assuming there’s no change in skirt length by going up a size, would it not be inconceivable for me to consider getting a 17” in either of those three models?
 

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If your current saddle is square skirts and you are looking at a saddle with round skirts, you might, might be able to go larger in seat...
What is more important than skirt size is the length of the tree points and how much longer this tree is than the current tree isn your saddle and where it sits on the horses anatomy.
Skirts are just leather/material...
Tree is solid whatever those saddles use as a tree material...that is where you need to know what sits and touches where.
Now if you refer to treeless saddles that is something totally different again..
🐴...
 

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As always, it isn't so simple:


 

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I can't imagine a 17" western saddle being a good fit for anyone who isn't 7' tall! I didn't even know they came that big.
It's not the height of the rider but the size of their bottom! And their belly too. I sometimes ride in a 17" western and I am only 5'6" tall. BUT I weigh about 225. So........I need room for my stomach! I am actually riding in a 16" currently because that's what fits my horse best. And I am comfortable in it, but probably a bit squeezed in by most people's standards. My stomach comes very close to the back of the fork/horn.

I actually LOVE a deep cantle. What also effects the seat size is the width and shape of the fork/ swells of the saddle. I like A-forks and Wade style trees, which have a lot of room for your legs up front. If I was riding in a 16" seat in a saddle with regular swells, a 16" probably would be too tight for me. So consider how prominent the swells are.

All this stuff is personal preference. But I love a slick fork saddle with a deep cantle. And a hard seat (for some reason the shape is better than most padded seats for my body shape).

So OP.........I won't ask you what you weigh, but do you need "belly room?" Unless you need "belly room," a 17" is pretty darn big. Sometimes I feel like they are a bit too big for me even. Then again, I know a guy smaller than me that bought one of my old 17" saddles and loves it because he has room to move around. I like to feel more secure I guess, but some people like a good amount of room in a saddle. Just some things to think about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I think the skirt length would have to go up with the larger seat size.
That’ll have to be something I’ll have to ask the folks at Horse Saddle Shop. It didn’t say anywhere that the skirt gets bigger as seat size gets bigger, so I’ll have to find out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If your current saddle is square skirts and you are looking at a saddle with round skirts, you might, might be able to go larger in seat...
What is more important than skirt size is the length of the tree points and how much longer this tree is than the current tree isn your saddle and where it sits on the horses anatomy.
Skirts are just leather/material...
Tree is solid whatever those saddles use as a tree material...that is where you need to know what sits and touches where.
Now if you refer to treeless saddles that is something totally different again..
🐴...
My western endurance saddle is made by the parent company of Abetta, so its pretty much an Abetta without the branding. Very round skirts (kinda looks a bit like a postage stamp in the winter when he’s a bit on the fluffier side). All the saddle models on the Horse Saddle Shop website I’m looking at are somewhat like a hybrid lovechild between a square skirt and a round skirt (like a bit more square, but kinda round on the corners).

Nah, don’t need to talk about treeless saddles. Got one of those too, but I only use it for arena schooling (so far).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Horse Saddle Shop has a calculator to help you figure that out. If you're still not sure, call them. They are very helpful.
Calculator says 16”. I just wasn’t sure since it sounded like a few reviews on the saddles mentioned maybe going up a size because of the cantle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
As always, it isn't so simple:


Thanks for those articles @bsms. Those helped a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I think the one inch of increase in cantle heighth won't make much difference. A seat that is too large will, however. I would sticck with a 16 inch seat.
Thanks for the advice. I think I’ll stick with the 16” then. I just wanted to make sure before I started dropping the dolla bills and all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It's not the height of the rider but the size of their bottom! And their belly too. I sometimes ride in a 17" western and I am only 5'6" tall. BUT I weigh about 225. So........I need room for my stomach! I am actually riding in a 16" currently because that's what fits my horse best. And I am comfortable in it, but probably a bit squeezed in by most people's standards. My stomach comes very close to the back of the fork/horn.

I actually LOVE a deep cantle. What also effects the seat size is the width and shape of the fork/ swells of the saddle. I like A-forks and Wade style trees, which have a lot of room for your legs up front. If I was riding in a 16" seat in a saddle with regular swells, a 16" probably would be too tight for me. So consider how prominent the swells are.

All this stuff is personal preference. But I love a slick fork saddle with a deep cantle. And a hard seat (for some reason the shape is better than most padded seats for my body shape).

So OP.........I won't ask you what you weigh, but do you need "belly room?" Unless you need "belly room," a 17" is pretty darn big. Sometimes I feel like they are a bit too big for me even. Then again, I know a guy smaller than me that bought one of my old 17" saddles and loves it because he has room to move around. I like to feel more secure I guess, but some people like a good amount of room in a saddle. Just some things to think about.
I’m 5’6” (and 1/2”) too with a long femur. I could probably ride in a 15”, and ideally fit best in a 15.5” (but those are few and far between so 16“ it is)

Now that you mention Wade saddles, I used to borrow one from a friend that was a 16” and I think it might have had a 5” cantle (Facebook memories decided to remind me of it today with pictures so I look at it, and I really liked how comfortable that saddle was with the high back cantle and how nice it cradled my back.) It was actually a bit big because it had a huge twist and was a slick seat and had been used by a man the prior owner to my friend. That was a nice saddle, but so heavy. I don’t need any space for real estate between my body and the horn as I’m pretty skinny.

Thanks for your comments. It was helpful, I’ll stick with the 16” like I figured, but some of the saddle reviews were making me wonder.
 

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If you buy a saddle online, make sure you can return it. I use a 16" saddle. But with one western saddle we've owned, the side edges of the cantle came forward farther than most and rubbed me wrong.

Also, an important part of the western saddle is the "ground" - the way the top of the saddle is shaped. The tree is what fits the saddle to the horse. The "ground" is what fits the saddle to the person.

"Ground seat comes next. There are six layers that take place in forming the perfect groundseat—one that allows the rider to feel balanced and close to their horse. Of course, the ground seat in a Wade or cowboy saddle is different from that of a reiner, cutter, or roper saddle."

I don't think it is possible to know if a western saddle will be comfortable for you until you sit on it. I know a number of online shops allow returns provided the saddle was kept clean. HorseSaddleShop's policies are here:
 
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