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Lorien Stable: Trainer's Notes
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saddle fitting questions?

 
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catbird



Joined: 08 Feb 2008
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:35 pm    Post subject: saddle fitting questions? Reply with quote

Hi! I discovered this forum by searching for info about fitting a western saddle to my little gelding who has a short back.

I purchased and read Galadriel's book, very helpful, thank you!

I am having a hard time finding a western saddle that is 1) 24 inches or shorter in total length 2) allows for wide shoulders and 3) high withers on a 4) barrel shaped horse with well sprung ribs. Also, to complicate things, I need a 16 inch seat.

I would also prefer a balanced seat.

I have come to the conclusion I may need a custom made saddle? Or maybe I could find a "gaited horse" saddle or arabian saddle? Most of these are still too long.

I really want a western tree made of wood, I would consider an endurance or aussie saddle.

I don't want "flex tree" or treeless. I would consider english but I don't know if it would be any easier to fit.

Of custom saddlers I am interested in these:

Desoto: http://www.desotosaddle.com/

Steele: http://www.steelesaddle.com/

Hope saddles: http://www.jjmaxwell.com/Hope%20Saddles.htm

Dixieland Saddles:http://www.dixielandgaitedsaddles.com/newpics.html

Do any of you have any experience with these, or knowlege of them? I would love any and all advice! Thanks! Smile
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galadriel
Site Admin


Joined: 20 Sep 2003
Posts: 113
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An English saddle ought to be much easier to fit; the tree does still need to be approximately the right shape, but you can accomplish much with fine-tuning. And an English saddle is *much* shorter overall.

The saddle companies you list look to be using standard trees of their choosing, not making saddles from custom trees. If you need a custom saddle to fit a specific horse, it's important to find someone who makes the tree to fit the horse's back. A saddle maker does not typically make trees in their shop, but buys them from one of several tree makers. A custom made tree involves more steps, but can make your horse a lot more happy if he's particularly unusual. Make sure to ask any saddle maker if they are actually having trees made, or if they use stock trees.

It's very hard to find a Western tree under 26" in length, much less 24". Are you sure that 24" is the right measurement? That's really quite short (but it does happen).
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catbird



Joined: 08 Feb 2008
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Galadriel, Thanks for replying! Smile

I chose the first 3 saddle makers I listed specifically because they do make custom trees. I talked to the owner of Desoto and she explained the whole process of how she makes the tree, which is wood. Marilyn has been making custom saddles for almost 40 years and has a degree in saddlemaking.

Also, I know the Steele family has 2 brothers who learned to make wooden trees from their grandfather. The one brother makes the custom saddles I gave a link to, the other brother makes Steele equi-fit trees which are used in many commercial saddles.

The Hope saddles I believe are also made on a custom tree and if you look at his website he has a lot of info about how his saddles are different from others, providing a more balanced ride due to the tree.

I am also looking into "Specialized Saddles" which use standard trees but customize them with special neoprene pads and shims that are part of the saddle and changeable. These are popular with endurance riders, the website is: http://specializedsaddles.com/new/

I am not totally sure about the length, I am just estimating b/c I was riding him in an older (1970's ish) Tex Tan "balance ride" saddle designed by Monte Foreman, which I LOVED but it was too long for him. It was only 25 1/2 inches long with rounded skirts (pretty short for a Western saddle) but the vet/chiro (who I respect, and who is very highly recomened by several people) said it was too long for him. So I'm just guessing that if it were about 1 1/2 inches shorter it would be better.

Honestly, his back isn't that short, it's in proportion to him, but he's a little horse. I wish they made shorter western saddles for shorter horses, I'm sure he isn't the only one who has this problem.

I prefer a Western tree to distribute my weight, and also b/c I ride Western and I am more comfortable with that type of saddle. But if I really can't find one to fit him I will switch to English.

Anyway, I was hoping in your saddle fitting experiences you might have come across some of these custom saddles and could give me some insights. If not, that's ok. Thanks for trying. Smile
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kris



Joined: 09 Feb 2008
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Catbird
I have exactly the same problem with my Andalusian cross mare-she's 15.2 hands and when i tried to get her a stock saddle i had all sorts of problems. I used a dressage saddle on her, a second hand Keiffer but after a fall I wanted a saddle with a little more stability and it was suggested i purchase a wintec pro stock saddle with CAIR and I have nothing but problems with it. I realised that Alcy has high withers (probably from the thoroughbred side) and a short back as the saddle sits on her loins and a wide chest and barrel ribs. I was advised by my saddle fitter to buy a riser to slip under the saddle to "lift the saddle off her back". Well Alcy didn't like this one bit and wouldn't go properly and lays back her ears whenever she lays eyes on the saddle. After reading the CAIR panel I realised that you're not meant to put anything under the CAIR panels but why the saddle fitter didn't know this I'm not sure. Anyway I measured the Wintec and it measures 18.5 and I compared it with the Keiffer which measures 16.5-I'm a bit confused by you describing a saddle as 26'?? Do you have larger saddles in America(I'm in Western Australia). Look the Wintec may be a great saddle for Qhorses or warmbloods with a flat back but it seems to be too long for my horse's back. Lorien do you have any ideas-how long is the average horse's back? How do I know whether the saddle is too long for my horse's back? Am I right that it's too long if it sits on her loins? I've purchased your book but I haven't received it as yet and I'd appreciate some clarity on these issues...
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kris



Joined: 09 Feb 2008
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Catbird
I have exactly the same problem with my Andalusian cross mare-she's 15.2 hands and when i tried to get her a stock saddle i had all sorts of problems. I used a dressage saddle on her, a second hand Keiffer but after a fall I wanted a saddle with a little more stability and it was suggested i purchase a wintec pro stock saddle with CAIR and I have nothing but problems with it. I realised that Alcy has high withers (probably from the thoroughbred side) and a short back and a wide chest and barrel ribs. I was advised by my saddle fitter to buy a riser to slip under the saddle to "lift the saddle off her back". Well Alcy didn't like this one bit and wouldn't go properly and lays back her ears whenever she lays eyes on the saddle. After reading the CAIR panel I realised that you're not meant to put anything under the CAIR panels but why the saddle fitter didn't know this I'm not sure. Anyway I measured the Wintec and it measures 18.5 and I compared it with the Keiffer which measures 16.5-I'm a bit confused by you describing a saddle as 26'?? Do you have larger saddles in America(I'm in Western Australia). Look the Wintec may be a great saddle for Qhorses or warmbloods with a flat back but it seems to be too long for my horse's back. Lorien do you have any ideas-how long is the average horse's back? How do I know whether the saddle is too long for my horse's back? Am I right that it's too long if it sits on her loins? I've purchased your book but I haven't received it as yet and I'd appreciate some clarity on these issues...
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