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Saddle Fitting the Short-Backed Horse

1596 Views 25 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  QtrBel
I've set a saddle fitting appointment for three weeks from now and I will be honest - I am dreading starting the saddle searching journey again. Last August, I posted the thread It's finally here! Trilogy dressage saddle fit to determine if the Trilogy saddle would fit my needs (and Minnie's back) well enough for the time being. It's served it's purpose of getting my confidence back and putting a lot of training on Minnie. Now, my trainer has suggested that I look for a saddle to take Minnie and I to the next level, with a bit better fit than the Trilogy provides. I've set up an appointment with the local independent fitter, and my trainer personally uses a Custom Saddlery fitter than I can also schedule with as well.

My biggest concern is finding a saddle that is a better length for Minnie's back while also having a seat that will accommodate what I need. Minnie has a short back, which just doesn't pair well with an 18" seat. This is a picture from this summer of where Minnie's 18th rib is. I'd say the current saddle goes about 1.5-2 inches further. My trainer is curious if the length of the saddle is causing Minnie to resist bringing her back up and collecting. The flocking does need replaced in the shoulders as it has two hard patches, so that may be contributing as well.
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Is it going to be possible to find a saddle that fits both her and I, or should I go in with the expectation of being told that I need to ride a smaller seated saddle to fit the horse? I truly don't know if I could comfortably ride in a smaller saddle at my current size. I have a long thigh and I'm currently carrying extra weight that I haven't been able to shed since quarantine.

I also read this opinion piece on short paneled saddles and I'm not necessarily sure if a short paneled saddle can be my answer, if the theory written in the piece is true (which it makes sense in my mind). How hard and fast is the 18th rib rule? The Trilogy fits Minnie pretty much everywhere else IMO, so is length the hill to die on?
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Can you send all of those saddles to your fitter for her opinion on which one would be the best fit for your horse since she is familiar with your horse's back? If not, then yes, I agree, if you can trial Option 1 that would be the most sure fire way to know if they fit.

I know my fitter is only doing remote fittings right now, but she sells Loxley saddles and has fit some friend's horses remotely for these saddles and they have been very happy with them (Morgan horses which need the hoop trees a lot of the time).
Yeah, I'm considering doing that... Though my experience with the fitter wasn't a great one and I've been considering starting over with a different fitter which is unfortunate.

Loxley and Ideal were on the list of the ones that the fitter recommended, however I know there are members here that have had Lovatt & Ricketts (@gottatrot?). I rode an Ideal tree but not an Ideal saddle (the Kruger is built on Ideal trees) and didn't like the way that my thigh laid.
Honestly, I was going to bring up the idea of a Lovatt and Ricketts, but wasn't sure if that was an option through your saddle fitter. When I saw your horse's back and read the recommendation for a hoop tree, I thought of L & R. If the tree is the right size, I'll say they are extremely comfortable and versatile saddles. I have had three, and my Ellipse dressage saddle is the best saddle I've ever had. I've used it on three Arabs now and it also fit my TB (who is especially wide). I really regret that I sold my all purpose Sylvan. The third one (endurance model) I had was too big for me, so that one I don't regret selling. But it was also a great saddle and I considered keeping it anyway. They're very short and made for wide and short horses. I've done a lot of galloping in mine, and it is very secure.
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Here is my L & R on my 15.3 hand TB:

And on the 13 hand pony. You can't get a much shorter back than this.
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Ideal Jessica is a dressage saddle with a standard A frame tree. I ride on one now. If it's wide enough it might fit - I've used a Jessica on an XW IDX in the past.

Personally I wouldn't buy a Loxley (cheaper Bliss Saddlery brand) without getting it checked by a saddle fitter before parting with any money.The last one I saw had the rear panel stitched on so poorly I thought it was a Far East saddle on the rack.

I don't think any of those saddles have hoop trees, though frankly from your pictures I don't think it's critical for your horse but that's just my opinion. The L & R might be wide enough, though historically they've tended not to have very broad front panels.

I stand corrected - apparently Loxley do a hoop tree. Website says they use Lariot for traditional trees, which is a well-known quality manufacturer in the UK.
I figured I'd give a quick little update for those following along. I went to the local saddle shop with the fitters tracings cut out onto cardboard and searched the racks of saddles. The two I came specifically to look at, the Thornhill and the Lovatt & Ricketts were still there. The Lovatt & Ricketts was too narrow, but the Thornhill fit the tracings great. As soon as I sat in it though, immediately my legs started aching from the twist of the saddle. I'm not sure what about the saddle caused this, but I had a similar feel sitting in a Prestige way back when. There was a Patrick Saddlery saddle that fit my criteria, but compared to the tracings it looked more like an XXW not a W.

I do have a trial saddle coming from the fitter on Tuesday, for a saddle I haven't tried yet. It's an ID Limited made by Adam Ellis.
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Otherwise, I am currently exchanging e-mails with the maker of Cuomo to have a saddle made and shipped across the big pond.

I never thought I'd be in the position of buying a brand new saddle, so I am incredibly grateful of the position I am in. Hopefully I'll have success soon!
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I'd go with Option 1 and if you've ridden a Loxley, knowing whether it would work for you then if Option 1 doesn't work I'd say go with 3. Skip 2 since the likelihood is if you aren't comfortable in the Ideal tree you probably wouldn't be comfortable in the saddle. Not if it's close enough to trail without a huge investment in shipping or pick-up/drop-off then maybe...

And the drop monster failed or is that succeeded again. Missed all the in-between until after I hit send.
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