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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm gonna rage.

"Saddle fit."

I'm not really sure what to do. I've tried multiple saddles over the years and they never really fit like I want them to. I would like to get into endurance type ridings, so saddle fit is paramount. My current saddle it too wide. oof I recently turned eighteen, and I think my parents are getting a little tired with trying and buying saddles (what feels like) all the time. So, I think for my next saddle, I have to buy it myself. I am unemployed, but I have some money saved up (but not a lot). I really need this next saddle to fit because I can't afford two if the first one busts. I have about a $1,000 (maybe $1,500) max I can spend. Can you find a good quality saddle for under $1,000 / $1,500? New? Probably not. So, I am looking for used most likely. I know nothing about brands, though. Another problem is that there are no saddle fitters around so I have to do it myself using things I learned via the internet. Any suggestions? I might ask for some "help" as a late birthday present. hmmm Wish me luck.

Is there anything I can do for a too wide saddle in the meantime? or should I just ride bareback or not at all?

I've also been thinking about treeless. I know that there is some fitting, but (I have been told that) it is not ask intense as a treed. I have been told that treeless is bad (like a glorified bareback pad) and that it will damage the horse's back long-term. Is this true? If so, why do a lot of endurance people use treeless (besides the no-poking from the tree)? Is it because that they are out of the saddle most of the ride? If it were true, wouldn't endurance horse's have really bad, sore backs? If treeless is OK, can you find a good quality treeless for under $1,000 / $1,500? I have been told that GOOD treeless costs, like, $2,000 - $3,000, and that's without the cost of the special treeless saddle pad.

*sigh*

Thanks.
 

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So a $1,000 - $1,500 budget will put you in many, many, many used saddles.
By me, as long as I don't have to have this years fad choice then there are always many saddles on Craigslist, tack sale groups on Facebook and other local to me websites to look through.
Sometimes putting out a ad for "ISO" is in search of...


As for a "fitter"....
Its only recently that everyone squeaks about saddle-fitters....
To me, you need common sense and some understanding of what a properly fitting saddle looks like on a horses back and then for the most part can skip the fitter...
You don't need a fitter.
To me, another way to separate you from your money for many. :icon_rolleyes:
I've seen to many "fitters" really screw up and not fit saddles properly...:neutral:


So for the members to give you some help...
Clear pictures of the horse standing square, head up from front, side and rear so needed dimensions of the horse can be closely approximated.
Size of the horse...height.
Breed of the horse and why pictures showing the bone build help so much.
What size saddle you think you need in seat sizing...
How tall you are, your inseam and yes, a pretty close given weight as all that makes a difference in seat size.
Measure how long your femur is from knee to hip joint.
An approximate area of where you live since we have members all over the world, we may have someone who knows of something in the vicinity.
And...what is it you search for?

Close-Contact, All-Purpose, Dressage, Endurance with a horn, Endurance w/o horn or are you searching for a western saddle? :think:
What is it you really want?


A lot of help can be offered if you just help us with information shared...
:runninghorse2:...
 

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There are four or five basic considerations to saddle fit. That may not sound like much, but in combination, (or permutation), that amounts to many many saddles where only one may fit very well.


Slope of the bars at the shoulder. Width of the bars at the shoulder. Twist of the bars from shoulder to rump area. Rock (or dip) in the bars along the length of the back. Distance between the two bars.


To buy one, or many, on Craig's or ebay hoping it will can be endless.


The best of course, would be to trailer up your horse and visit used saddle places. Some do that but it's not an option for many. Some use a wire mold of the horse's back to carry from used saddle store to used saddle store to find one that 'might' fit. If a full deposit is left, some stores might allow one to be taken home to try.


I seriously would hesitate buying a saddle that I could not return if it did not fit.


If buying online, I would ask the seller to bend a wire in the shape of the critical measurements and mail a tracing.


Depending on your weight, there are a few treeless saddle that go way beyond a bareback pad. One of the early problems was the pressure from the stirrup leathers. Most have solved that by running the forces up over the seat where the rider sits.


A new Barefoot Treeless Saddle can be had new for around $1000 including a new treeless pad which is required for a treeless saddle.


It is considered a good treeless saddle. I have one. There are pluses and minuses. Treeless does tend to slip some when mounting from the ground, depending on the strength of the riders legs. If mounting bareback from the ground is no problem, then it shouldn't be for a treeless.


Here's a link to Barefoot's website. https://www.barefootsaddlesusa.com/
 

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The other people in this site have a lot more info regarding the subject of saddle fitting than I do (as proven by the above posts). However, I'll input my recent experiences with buying a used saddle in case they're helpful for you.

I went to a local saddlery with a cardboard cutout that fit my mare's back (as mentioned above with wire). Of course, that doesn't guarantee the other points of saddle fitting, but it helps a lot to narrow down potential saddles. I was surprised they easily had hundreds of used saddles, yet the employee helped me narrow down my search and I walked out with a saddle in just 20 minutes. She let me sit in all the ones I was considering to see how they felt.

What made me so confident about buying a used saddle was the saddlery allows you to return the saddle within a week for a complete refund if it doesn't fit. I told her my budget of $500 (plus all the other things I needed in a saddle) and she pulled dozens of used saddles off the racks. The one I ended up with was $100! It is definitely not something I would bring to a show for lack in the looks department, but it fits my horse, fits me, hits all the points I need in a saddle, and is very comfortable to ride in.

So, advice simplified: Find a saddlery (call ahead) that has a diverse selection, will let you sit in saddles, and most importantly, will let you return it for a full refund. Get a cutout or wire frame of your horse's back a few fingers behind the scapula. Bring the reference to the saddlery and hold it against the front of the saddle to see how they compare. Go into the saddlery knowing what you're looking for - your seat size, saddle type, price range, and anything else you need or want. You will have a lot more flexibility in a saddlery than jumping from ad to ad with people who are only selling one or two saddles.
 

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I'm gonna rage.

"Saddle fit."

I'm not really sure what to do. I've tried multiple saddles over the years and they never really fit like I want them to. I would like to get into endurance type ridings, so saddle fit is paramount.

Oh I hear ya. Saddle fitting is often a nightmare.



To put your budget to the best use, do you have any tack shops near you that carry used endurance saddles in stock? If you are able to haul your horse to a tack store, that is the best because you can try the saddle on your horse and see if it fits or not before buying.


If you are like me, there often aren't many options nearby. So ASK FRIENDS. Ask STRANGERS. Ask if you can try on their saddle when you are at an event. Seriously, ask! Most people are willing. When you find one that fits, write down the serial number and then try to find a used one online. Again, this just saves you time with buying a saddle that doesn't fit, then having to sell it before you have the money to buy another.





Is there anything I can do for a too wide saddle in the meantime? or should I just ride bareback or not at all?

It depends on what exactly is wide. If your bar angle is too wide, that's not good b/c it is going to create pressure points. If the bar angle is okay but just your gullet is too wide, then you might be able to get by with shimming for a while for the time being.



It really just depends.



Can you post pictures for what you have right now?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the replies/advice everyone.

What size saddle you think you need in seat sizing...
How tall you are, your inseam and yes, a pretty close given weight as all that makes a difference in seat size.
Measure how long your femur is from knee to hip joint.
An approximate area of where you live since we have members all over the world, we may have someone who knows of something in the vicinity.
I think I need a 15 in. (38 cm). I am 5' 2" (157 cm) and 120 lbs. (54 kg) currently due to the quarantine. I am usually 110 lbs (50 kg).
I live in Virginia, sort of near D.C.

And...what is it you search for?

Close-Contact, All-Purpose, Dressage, Endurance with a horn, Endurance w/o horn or are you searching for a western saddle? :think:
What is it you really want?
what style of saddle? Western? Dressage? jump?
I don't really know what kind of saddle. I don't really know anything about endurance.

Depending on your weight, there are a few treeless saddle that go way beyond a bareback pad. One of the early problems was the pressure from the stirrup leathers. Most have solved that by running the forces up over the seat where the rider sits.


A new Barefoot Treeless Saddle can be had new for around $1000 including a new treeless pad which is required for a treeless saddle.


It is considered a good treeless saddle. I have one. There are pluses and minuses. Treeless does tend to slip some when mounting from the ground, depending on the strength of the riders legs. If mounting bareback from the ground is no problem, then it shouldn't be for a treeless.


Here's a link to Barefoot's website. https://www.barefootsaddlesusa.com/
Thanks for the recommendation. I don't mount from the ground (I'm short), so it work.

I'll definitely try the wire mold the next time. That's one of the ways I found out that my current is too wide.
 

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I think I need a 15 in. (38 cm). I am 5' 2" (157 cm) and 120 lbs. (54 kg) currently due to the quarantine. I am usually 110 lbs (50 kg).
I live in Virginia, sort of near D.C.

I don't really know what kind of saddle. I don't really know anything about endurance.
So, you are a adult and do not need to ride in a 15" child's saddle if English because the measurements will be off in many areas.
A 16.5 is the smallest of adult saddle sizing made in English, otherwise you sit in a child or youth size.
The differences is width of seat, width of flap, placement of stirrup bar and sitting in the saddle not perching on top of it.
If western then a 15" is one of the smaller sized adult saddles.

With your comment part about not knowing what kind of saddle...
What is it you are riding in now?

A endurance saddle would probably most resemble a A/P to you, but it is specialized for long rides to give the horse and rider more comfort and support over rugged terrains often times.

So I just peaked at Craigslist for Virginia, picking northern Virginia since you mentioned being nearer DC...
Use the Farm & Garden section, then type in saddles in the search bar and a list of selections appear.
That list can and does change daily...sometimes good finds, sometimes great finds and sometimes absolute junk is for sale. Scroll down the page though because there was a lot in surrounding areas to view, some of which were really nice saddles.
I saw several Collegiate saddles, one of which is Pessoa crafted from when Pessoa was at that company before starting his own...you can see quality.
New saddles that cost $200 are junk, are risky to purchase and the couple I looked at advertised as new are crap and just sitting pictured on the floor you can visually see they are not even and balanced made in panels and leather is cardboard junk...don't do this to you or your horse, please.

I saw some really nice used western saddles too, good brands and used but taken care of appearance too.
Best is if these are local to you, within a short drive you can meet and have the seller bring it to try and return if it isn't a good fit. Do not go by yourself nor have anyone come to your home when alone...always a adult besides you around for safety reasons.
You aren't far out of horse-country where many tack shops are around, knowledgeable people able to help you find and a supply of used should be.
A short distance away are many shops with inventory of hundreds of saddles used, all price ranges, manufacturers and tree widths in every discipline that has been mentioned here.
With the exception of the highest priced saddles, none were out of your price range... best is there will be people at those locations that can help to fit the horse correctly.
I don't know if those saddle shops come to the person but a phone call would give you that information.
Call, be honest with what you can spend and see what they have...my suggestion though is go to the store, sit in several saddles so you know better what size you should be riding in cause 15" English unless you are very petite is just to small.
My sister is your size and weight...she rides in a 16.5 - tight 17" A/P English because of length of her femur...

Go to some tack shops and get sized, see what they have in used inventory then you can concentrate on the horses comfort = easier/correct match made.
:runninghorse2:...
jmo...
 

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Taking the wire to the store is probably a bad idea. Better to trace the wire on cardboard to take to the store as swissmiss suggested. You could also use the concave part of the cut-out to double check on your horse's back to insure the wire didn't distort between bending and tracing.
 

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Some thoughts-from an endurance perspective:

Don't worry necessarily about an "endurance type" saddle. I know people who ride 100's in barrel saddles and dressage saddles. The main concern is that it fits you and your horse. There's many adjustments you can make with accessories to make it more comfortable/better suited for distance riding (sheepskin cover, caged stirrups, different leathers, etc). So start with finding a saddle that fits you and your horse that you feel comfortable in (for example, I don't feel confident in English style saddles so I lean towards the western styled ones).

As far as cost goes, I ride 50's in a saddle that cost me $60 at an auction. My husband rides in the same saddle (larger seat size) that we bought from a friend for $150. I have more expensive and nicer saddles but those currently fit our horses and us the best.

Treeless-works for some horses/riders and not for others. I had one (Ghost brand) and I never really liked the feel of it. Made me feel too perched up on the horses's back. Several friends like their Freeforms and do a lot of mileage in them, I know people with thousands of miles in Bob Marshall's as well. Some horses do well with treeless, some don't like them. @phantomhorse13 uses one for her spare saddle but can give you more info on long term endurance in a treeless and her experience.

Can you join an endurance group in your area (either on Facebook or otherwise)? A lot of endurance people are happy to let you try on their saddles and take them for a spin to see if they might work for your horse. I usually try out new saddles by testing a friends and figuring out sizing that way.

Just some other ideas more tailored to endurance if that's what you're looking to do!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Treeless-works for some horses/riders and not for others. I had one (Ghost brand) and I never really liked the feel of it. Made me feel too perched up on the horses's back. Several friends like their Freeforms and do a lot of mileage in them, I know people with thousands of miles in Bob Marshall's as well. Some horses do well with treeless, some don't like them. @phantomhorse13 uses one for her spare saddle but can give you more info on long term endurance in a treeless and her experience.
Yeah. I worry about a cheapo treeless as I have heard that they can really mess up the horse's back, but I guess that can go for a treed saddle as well. She's a gaited horse so shoulder movement is really important. All the saddle's I've tried pinched her shoulders and she wouldn't gait (she gaits naturally) and bucks out at the canter. She's also tiny (short and narrow) and a lot of treed saddles are too long and/or wide. She has a flat, borderline roachback and a lot of saddles have too much rock. :s I have been thinking about a breed specific or an arabian saddle...? I don't know, though. I am currently using a western saddle and I like it, but I feel like a lot of western saddles are meant to fit thick stock horses rather than the dainty gaited ones.
 

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Yeah. I worry about a cheapo treeless as I have heard that they can really mess up the horse's back, but I guess that can go for a treed saddle as well. She's a gaited horse so shoulder movement is really important. All the saddle's I've tried pinched her shoulders and she wouldn't gait (she gaits naturally) and bucks out at the canter. She's also tiny (short and narrow) and a lot of treed saddles are too long and/or wide. She has a flat, borderline roachback and a lot of saddles have too much rock. :s I have been thinking about a breed specific or an arabian saddle...? I don't know, though. I am currently using a western saddle and I like it, but I feel like a lot of western saddles are meant to fit thick stock horses rather than the dainty gaited ones.
Ahhh gaited. Something I actually know a little about! DH's horse is a Rocky, he rides in an Abetta. He's a bigger horse though, 16.1 and longer but still fairly narrow. He has a Missouri Fox Trotter too who goes in the same saddle but we haven't ridden her competitively yet (she's only 5)

Two of my good friends ride Tennessee Walkers in endurance. One has a synthetic Kuda saddle which I believe are $850 new and can be ordered in many different tree sizes (their website has a lot of details) and seat sizes. They have lots of other models of endurance saddles as well in leather.

Another has a County dressage saddle. She got a good deal on a used or demo model from a fitter I believe but I'm not sure of the price.

I know other people use Specialized, they're pretty good for short backs (I have an Ultralight myself that I'm trying to figure out fit on) since I have a few with very short backs. They're very shimmable to your horse but we don't have a local fitter so it's a little trial and error!
 

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Are you on facebook? If so, message me on here and I will get you connected to some distance riding groups here in the Northeast. If you are in DC area, there are likely distance riders not too far away.

I agree with the suggestion of going to a tack store and sitting in things to figureout what you are looking for. Its also possible you can tweak the padding of your current saddle to help with fit, depending on what is too wide.
 

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Do you know how to find the 18th rib? Not setting you up. One of the first questions I asked on this forum was about a sore on my horse's belly. (it was his belly button:(



So knowing the location of the 18th rib is important, especially in a small short backed horsey.


I was 72 when I became the provider for a saddle horse at which time I thought of a saddle as a backpack for horses. At 18 you're way way ahead of the game.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Do you know how to find the 18th rib? Not setting you up. One of the first questions I asked on this forum was about a sore on my horse's belly. (it was his belly button:(



So knowing the location of the 18th rib is important, especially in a small short backed horsey.


I was 72 when I became the provider for a saddle horse at which time I thought of a saddle as a backpack for horses. At 18 you're way way ahead of the game.
Yep. My horse's isn't too fat, so I can palpate it or just follow the "cow-lick" up the on the flank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Are you on facebook? If so, message me on here and I will get you connected to some distance riding groups here in the Northeast. If you are in DC area, there are likely distance riders not too far away.

I agree with the suggestion of going to a tack store and sitting in things to figureout what you are looking for. Its also possible you can tweak the padding of your current saddle to help with fit, depending on what is too wide.
Thank you for the offer, but no, I am not on Facebook. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I am very curious about treeless, but all the nay-sayers say that they aren't good at weight distribution. Those in favor of treeless say that treed saddle don't "move" with the horse and can cause poking.

We do the best that we can, I guess, but it makes me a little scared to ride....
 

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I just went through a massive saddle fit dilemma with both my horses. I am getting into endurance/CTR events so wanted to make sure whatever saddle I used was comfortable and fit well.

I shied away from treeless for the longest time, but in the end it was the only option that worked for my mare. I was lucky enough to trial a few treeless brands so was able to find one that worked for me. I ended up getting an EZ Fit saddle - it ended up costing me around $1800 for brand new - but keep in mind I also live in Canada, so that would be less if I didn't have to pay for the conversion and shipping. If you are interested in treeless I would see if there is a way that you can try a few out. And definitely stick to a good name brand. Some popular brands are Sensations, Barefoot, Ghost, Freeform, Bob Marshall......do your research and ask questions. I did learn that treeless may not be the best option for some horses. My horse is super wide and has a short back - her spine is not prominent. I am not sure if treeless would be a great option for a narrow horse with a more prominent spine/wither. I also read that heavier riders may find that Treeless is not suitable - but again, I do know some heavier set riders that have great success with treeless. I think it is something you need to try out and determine if it is an option for you.

For my gelding I ended up getting a used Specialized Saddle. I really like this saddle as the shims make it very easy to customize the fit to your horse (I am still trying to get this bit right though). I have seen quite a few used Specialized saddles - and I believe there is also a demo program so you can try one out beforehand. (there is also a Specialized Saddle FB group)

I am not a huge fan of social media, but honestly, Facebook is a great way to ask questions and look for used tack. There are so many groups for buy/sell that I feel that would be a great resource for you. There are also endurance pages you can join (likely for your region) where you can ask questions.
 
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