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I have a friend who is fairly new to horses. She has a young Arabian, very narrow and short backed, coming 4. She (and I) have no idea what brand to look for in a saddle, Western or Endurance. Her last choice would be a Dressage saddle. Her saddle fitter told her she needed a short tree most of all. Many years ago there were saddles specifically made for Arabians, but my research has turned up nothing. Can anyone make suggestions of how/where to start looking?
 

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Not the article I meant to copy. I hope I didn't lose the link for the one I wanted to copy but the above is still a good reference.
 

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I've never ridden in one but Pegasus saddles maybe something to consider.

 

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If western, all you need to care about for "short back" is that the skirts don't interfere with the hip. Some "saddle fitters" think a western tree cannot go past the 18th rib. Not true since almost EVERY western saddle tree extends out on/over the loin:


Also see:


However, almost any Abetta saddle has an uncommonly small/short footprint:



I'm afraid they are no longer in production but there ought to be a ton of them on the used market. I like the Abetta, but if I wanted to protect the horse's back, I'd go with the longer tree / larger weight distribution area.
 

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FWIW, Cowboy is a 13.0 hand pony. I've never met a horse with a shorter back than his. The pictures below was with a 26.5" long Circle Y. The woman on him is 4'11":
This one is with the 25.5" saddle I had made for 15.3 hand 100% Arabian Mia:
When I ride Cowboy, I'm at 30% of his body weight. We've ridden for 3 hours in rough terrain without issue.
 

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I've been riding Arabians for more than 30 years on not so easy trails. They have been as short as 14 hands and as tall as 15-1 hands. Never had a saddle that gave them trouble, even the ones that I thought had tree bars which were too long.
 

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Circle Y has some western saddles with Arab trees that fit short-backed Arabs really well. For an endurance or dressage saddle I'd recommend Lovatt and Ricketts. They used to be called Arabian Saddle Company.
 

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FWIW, It will be very hard if not impossible for anyone to find a certified licensed saddle fitter that recommends the rider's weight be distributed behind the 18th rib. Period.

That said, properly designed and fitted western trees will have a flair in the back that rises above the horse at or before the 18th rib. The leather worker that place the leather above the rear of the tree and beyond with fleece below disguises the fact of whether the tree is actually adding the riders weight behind the 18th rib. Properly fit, it will not.

Again, this is not what some people seem to believe, but virtually every single certified saddle fitter that knows enough to have an opinion.
 

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I'll trust the Nikkels, who can point out where the tree of a western saddle MUST lie. Unlike saddle fitters, they provide photographs. And pressure readouts. The tree WILL extend on to the loin.

The weight of a rider is supported, not by bones, but by muscle. Loin muscle is as strong as any other muscle.

 
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