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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Almost exactly a year ago, I brought home my mare and the saddle the rescue gave me. They had plenty of saddle options to choose from, and after trying almost all of them, myself (as well as the people helping me at the rescue) decided this one fit best.

Now, not so much. Going from pasture pet to exercise, her body and muscles have changed. The change was so gradual that I never really stopped to re-evaluate the saddle fit (poor horsemanship on my part, yes). For the past few weeks, I noticed that I was sitting too far left in the saddle. Initially, I was able to correct it by shifting my weight, no big deal. Then at last week’s ride, I noticed that it wasn’t ME sitting too far left… It was the saddle slipping too far right underneath me. I was so irritated by the saddle shifting right that I kept putting all of my weight into my left stirrup in an attempt to shift it back to the center. Unlike before, I wasn’t able to re-center it, even when I had my entire weight in my left stirrup. That’s when I knew I really had to take a step back and face the reality I had been wrongly avoiding.

My first thought was that I had been riding in an ill-fitting saddle for so long that it had begun to impact my horse’s muscles and make her asymmetric (EEK! I was beating myself up over this) Then, out of curiosity, I borrowed someone else’s saddle just to set on her back. It fit her, and also sat perfectly dead center. I borrowed another one - not a perfect fit, but still sat perfectly dead center. That’s when I realized it was actually my saddle that was really wonky.

My saddle, set on April’s back with her shimmying all around because of the flies, found this position 100% of the time, and would not budge from it even if I tried to center it. It looks like the front end parts of the saddle are horizontally parallel to one another, and the back end parts of the saddle are horizontally parallel to one another, but the front and back ends are twisted compared to one another. This seems why the back end of the saddle falls to the right when the front end of the saddle is centered.

So, what happened here? I simply cannot imagine I would have been riding in a crooked saddle for a year and only just now noticed. Once it started to slip to the right (even just a little to begin with), I noticed right away and it really irritated me. Was it just that it has always been crooked but is now emphasized because April built muscle and is roly poly enough for the saddle to shift? How did it even get this wonky to begin with? I certainly have not dropped it or left it rolling in the back of my car or anything else potentially traumatic. The tree does not feel broken at all.


Well, here begins my hunt for a new saddle. I’ll be back to this thread to ask more questions!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
This is the saddle that I borrowed and fit April well (would like someone to double-check that it does in fact fit well, my saddle fitting skills are a work in progress). I threw in the Western photo just as more evidence that it really is my saddle that is the issue, not my horse.

As for what I'm looking to buy - I'm conflicted as to what I want to be looking for. I definitely want lightweight and comfortable (for long trail rides) above all else. Whatever it is, I need to be able to comfortably post in it, since my mare's trot is way too bouncy and animated for me to ever consider sitting it for extensive periods of time (this might make Western saddles tricky). Security is appreciated (my mare prefers stopping on a dime for her spooks) but not necessary. Extra rings for attachments are appreciated as I begin to dream about away-from-home trail rides. Thinking either an English saddle or lightweight Western or Endurance or hybrid of some kind. I do not like horns. I've been jabbed in the gut while dodging low branches too many times. I do not need or want anything fancy, I do not show nor do I have plans to show. I am intending to buy used unless I come across a reasonably priced new saddle that checks all my boxes.

An all-purpose English saddle with a cushy seat and good knee rolls would check off lightweight, comfort, some security, and no horn. The issue is most English saddles have only a couple small rings unless they're some kind of English endurance. And I would love an English endurance saddle, but they are just not popular around here.

I've heard good things about the cheap, lightweight, hornless Abetta Western trail/endurance saddles. The only issue is Abettas also do not seem popular around my area. The saddlery near me has a lot of used all purpose English and general Western (heavy leather) saddles. I might just have to stick with another basic all purpose English, or order online if I want something specific. I want to avoid ordering used online for obvious fitting reasons. Opinions?
 

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That hunt saddle looks like it fits, to me. Someone pickier may come along, though. The western looks too wide.

Um... every, single ranch hand or cowboy I know posts in their western saddles. I think not posting is just a show thing for jog trotting horses. But when *we* trot, we need to get somewhere, so it's a working trot.

Anyway, I often ride a forward seat saddle when checking fence, or if I don't want to rope with a particular crew. I don't know why more non-ropers don't use hornless western-style saddles. I would if I didn't rope.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That hunt saddle looks like it fits, to me. Someone pickier may come along, though. The western looks too wide.

Um... every, single ranch hand or cowboy I know posts in their western saddles. I think not posting is just a show thing for jog trotting horses. But when *we* trot, we need to get somewhere, so it's a working trot.

Anyway, I often ride a forward seat saddle when checking fence, or if I don't want to rope with a particular crew. I don't know why more non-ropers don't use hornless western-style saddles. I would if I didn't rope.
Yes, the western is too wide. Funny enough, it is closer to fitting her now than it was last summer when I threw it on momentarily, which tells me she is indeed building muscle and getting wider in her back.

That's interesting. My BO rides western (all sorts) and says she has never posted on any horse for any reason before. I do find posting in western saddles trickier than in English saddles, at least on my horse, because my legs need to reach further down and tire in the ankles faster. As opposed to English where the shorter stirrups let my heel naturally sink and my ankles do no work. If I shorten my stirrups a tad more in a western saddle then my thighs tap the pommel as I post, especially with my mare's trot that would launch her rider into orbit if it was any more bouncy. Maybe it's just because I've only ever ridden in cheap, poorly designed western saddles.
 

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I used to ride in a Crates trail saddle (western), and that thing was so well balanced I could post all day in it.


That saddle you had must have had the tree just twist somehow. It looks like a foam padded panel saddle. I guess the wooden part of the tree may have shrunk and twisted as it dried out.


You horse is very pretty, but getting just a bit . . . hm . . 'fluffy'.
 

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This one may be coming out of left field but … have you thought about an Aussie? They have lots and lots of dees and rings for gear, are very secure thanks to the poleys and ultra deep seat, you can get them with no horn, and they are the most comfortable saddles I've ever sat in thanks to the suspended seat. Wintec has some nice ones that I've been eyeballing for a while now, with those adjustable trees that English saddles have sometimes, and the air panels. They look really nice. They've also got an endurance type one, with the same basic stuff, just less security (but still probably more security than you're probably used to at the moment). They're relatively inexpensive new but I'm sure you could get them even cheaper used somewhere.

-- Kai
 

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Take the saddle and turn it so the seat is resting against your legs the pommel on your feet and look straight down the channel and see what difference there is in the flocking.

It might not be that the tree is twisted but that it has been flocked unevenly.
 

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I can see by your pictures the tree is twisted.
Doesn't matter how or why, it is crooked and should not be used anymore

Stop using that saddle..it is now a decoration or risk with continued use affecting your horses spine forget how you compensate to ride becoming a ingrained awful habit to break.

Now that foxhunter explained how to check for a true tree, one that is not "wonky" with twist you are better prepared to purchase a different saddle and not fall into the same problem again.
Craigslist is your friend. Farm & Garden section is where you can find all kinds of horsey goods.
Local sales pages, look in feed stores for their community bulletin board, ask around and let it be known what size seat you need and see what is available.
Ebay, used saddles on saddle-shop pages depending upon how much $ you wish to spend...
Even some of the new entry level saddles are possibilities from many places...
No matter who you buy a saddle from you check for saddle tree to be true, aka not twisted or wracked as your is.
Your horse is now fully weighted and once you find a saddle that fits it should not be something changing again and again because of a skinny now weighted proper animal... Muscling may change a bit, but...for what most of us ride we don't need continual re-fitting needing done.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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If I shorten my stirrups a tad more in a western saddle then my thighs tap the pommel as I post, especially with my mare's trot that would launch her rider into orbit if it was any more bouncy. Maybe it's just because I've only ever ridden in cheap, poorly designed western saddles.
Watch what pommels you choose in a western saddle. My preference in western trees is a Modified Association or a Will James. Some people like the slick forks, but then add bucking rolls, which makes it like a Modified Association.

But I do have an older saddle with a high pommel.

I started an older gelding last fall with incredible action at the trot. He had been poorly started several times before, and when excited he'd break into a trot that would have made an STB owner happy. I used to come in with bruises on my upper thighs. But, at first he'd still suck back and buck, so bruising was worth the extra security.

When I ride a forward seat working cattle, I use pommel and/or cantle bags to carry water, fencing pliers, and medicine.

Good luck, and, seriously, have fun finding the right saddle for you and your pretty mare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@Kaifyre, yes, I did think about an Australian saddle for its security, comfort, and usefulness. Though I heard they are darn heavy and that the poleys can sometimes get in the way of posting. I've never ridden in one before, so I can't say how true this would be, and would love input from people here about that. My local saddlery has a few used ones for sale so I might be curious enough to try one.
@horselovinguy, absolutely, this saddle won't ever have a place on my horse's back again. I momentarily thought about donating it back to the rescue but then dismissed that as I don't want it being used on other horses either. It's a shame because I do like the saddle if not for the twisted tree. I'll have to think about what I can do with it.
As for buying a saddle, my vet recommended I take a look at our local saddlery who has a very large variety of used saddles under $500. They have an updated website as well so I can browse before I go in the store (they are open during the pandemic!). Per my vet, any used saddle you buy there you can return for full price if it doesn't work out.
@boots, I do have to admit anything I know about western saddles is self-learned. I grew up and was trained English. The only time I've ridden western is when I've borrowed other people's saddles and thrown them on my horse. This probably doesn't put me in a good position to buy a western saddle alone because I'm not very knowledgeable about what to look for. Thank you for your input and good luck sending!
 

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Ehh, I don't think an Aussie is heavy … but then, my colt breaking saddle is a beast at 44 pounds, so when I sling a 20-odd pounder onto a horse I can do it with one hand lol. That's for leather Aussies though … I don't know what your opinions are on synthetics, but I've got a synthetic Aussie that is SUPER light (at least to me … can't remember off the top of my head what it weighs but it's feather light in my opinion). Wintecs, obviously, are synthetic so very light - the Aussie one is 18 pounds and the endurance model is 14. Some Aussie saddles have higher poleys than others, and I can tell you from experience that 4" poleys are a bit weird to post in - not hard, but weird. Judging from what you said, the Wintec endurance looks like it would be pretty decent for your use:

https://www.statelinetack.com/item/wintec-pro-hart-endurance-saddle/E031361/

No poleys so easy posting, but moveable blocks so reasonable security. And lots of dees for saddle bags. I've never owned a Wintec but I've been looking for something lighter weight to trail ride Dreams in, and I've been debating the merits of this one and the Aussie they make.

Just my two cents : )

-- Kai
 

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I'm afraid it's rarely possible to confirm if a saddle tree has a twist by looking at pictures. Bear in mind these things are put together by hand so the leatherwork is rarely applied completely evenly from side to side. Most leather saddles have the seat stretched over the tree slightly unevenly so the waist does not run from seat to pommel completely straight, which means the skirts sit slightly wonky, and the head nails are hardly ever in the same positions from side to side.

I'd suggest the main problem with this is it's too narrow. The foam/felt close-contact panels can't be adjusted and the saddle, although it looks pretty balanced when you look at it from the side, is sitting in the hollows behind the horse's shoulders which are at a steeper angle than the shoulders themselves. When this happens, the deeper hollow (and there always is one) allows the saddle to drop in further. This makes it sit unevenly, often allowing one rear quarter to lift or twist to one side, which is the problem you have.

I suggest you girth it up with no pad and check how tight it is behind each shoulder by running your hand between horse and saddle from the pommel down to the bottom of the front panel. From the pics I suspect the offside will be tighter.

If this is the case you basically need a saddle probably a half-tree wider. Good luck!
 

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Have you thought of riding in a dressage saddle? My daughter moved from an all purpose English saddle to a dressage saddle and loves it! She currently rides in a Collegiate dressage saddle that we bought used for a few hundred dollars. She does have a western saddle - a Fabtron Lady trail that is a really nice saddle. She prefers the dressage saddle though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
@Kaifyre, I would love a saddle like that! My only issue is the price tag. Don't get me wrong, I am certainly capable of spending that kind of money on my horse. However, when I know I have other decent saddle options for half the price, I do consider where the other half of that could be spent, especially keeping in mind all of my current and future loans. Assuming I survive grad school, I'll upgrade to a saddle like that in the future! The standards I posted are the complete ideal, not necessarily what I'll find for my price tag. I need it to fit my horse, fit me, and be somewhat comfortable (2-3 hour ride without total butt numbness/soreness) - and the rest are just bonuses if I find them.
@unclearthur, yes, my current saddle is definitely too narrow. Taking a second look at how it sits on my horse's back today, I do believe my original theory that when it fit her (when she had less muscle), it sat straight enough to not be noticeable. Now that it is too narrow, it's doing exactly what you described, falling to one side because it doesn't have proper support. When I girth it up, the left panel will sit more flush/snug to her back and the right panel lifts off more. Which makes sense as it coincides with the rightward shift.
@carshon, yes, although I have the same issue with dressage saddles as I have with western saddles, which is your leg is meant to sit straighter and longer than in an all purpose English saddle and makes it just a tad more difficult to post and a tad more straining on my ankles. I wish I didn't have that issue because I love the deep seat a dressage saddle offers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
As an add on - my thing about a secure saddle isn't the highest on my list, I just like the idea of it for that once-in-a-lifetime spook. I have yet to ever fall off on a trail ride *knock on wood* even when my mare has spun 1080 degrees or jumped 10 feet sideways while I was in my relatively flat English saddle with small knee rolls. I would like to keep it that way, but so far, my seat hasn't failed me!
 

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I'd see if you can get a used one then, there's got to be some floating around on the InterWebs somewhere. Especially if it's got the adjustable tree thingies, you can buy any old one you find and fit it when you get it. It's a cryin' shame DownUnder Saddlery went out of business, they had several really nice synthetic Aussies and endurance saddles that were really reasonable. The one I have is one of theirs and I love it to pieces …. but I bought it for Thunder so it's got a wide tree and now I don't have a horse to fit it lol. le Sigh …

-- Kai
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
@Kaifyre I think my best bet will either be heading over to the local saddlery or buying something adjustable online. To be honest, though, I have never personally encountered an adjustable saddle and I don't know how easy to find they are, and if I could find something that fits the rest of my requirements and is adjustable and reasonably priced.

Also, my local saddlery has a few Downunder Aussies for sale, but they're leather so I assume relatively heavy. I might head over there today, or if not today then some time soon, and I'll keep those in consideration.

I know I measure at a 16-17" English seat but I have no clue what tree is in my saddle or the ones I borrowed. I am crossing my fingers that mine is a medium narrow and the one that fits her is a medium, so that it can open me up to a lot of medium tree saddles. Because if mine is a medium and the one that fits is a medium wide... Well, they're not particularly common around here either and I might struggle to find one.

If anyone is curious and enjoys saddle browsing, these are the used saddles at my local saddlery. I've been primarily looking at their medium tree English saddles 16-17" that have some sort of knee roll and aren't just flat leather and are under $500.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I visited the saddlery today and brought a saddle home! Fingers crossed it fits.

I cut a piece of cardboard to fit the shape of April's back so that it also matches the shape of the borrowed saddle that fits her. I brought it with me - lady at the shop asked what I needed and I said "Used all purpose English, medium tree, 16-17", knee rolls, under $500" and within minutes she had taken over twenty saddles off the racks that fit all the criteria. Their online selection that I said was quite large doesn't even begin to touch all the saddles they actually have there!

Of course, she started with the higher priced saddles. Some were a tad off my cardboard template, others were too flat and stiff, etc, and so we sorted them by definite nos and maybes. There were a couple that felt great and fit great but were at the high end of my price range.

Toward the end, she pulled out an aged and rough-looking Stubben Siegfried that was $100. I was surprised to find when I sat in it just how secure and comfortable it was. It checked all of my boxes - all purpose, medium tree (fit the cardboard!), knee rolls, comfortable, secure feeling, even has a few rings for good measure. The leather is supple, the flocking surprisingly cushy, and although the seat is a bit stiff, the shape fits me so well that it doesn't matter. The knee rolls are worn but in the best way - broken in so that there is a nice compact divet exactly where my knee sits on top of and the knee roll surrounding it is bulky and cushy enough to hold my knee in the perfect spot. I also love that the knee rolls are suede - gives perfect grip, especially in jeans.

Does anyone know anything about Siegfrieds or have a guess about how old this one is? I have never heard of them. With some online digging I found "the older ones with the suede knee rolls are practically indestructible." Have I found a gem for a steal?
 

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