View Full Version : I just give up-saddle fit

Oct. 19, 2009, 01:13 PM
*sigh* I just plain give up.

When I was a kid I never had saddle fit problems with my horse Cashel.

Now I have saddle fit problems with two horses. One can be fixed though, a friend is riding one of my girls and she got a new saddle but I think she leans to one side which is causing white hairs.

Now my primary riding horse, Cricket, I just give up. Started out riding her in an Abetta trail saddle. Rode for about 2 years with no problems. Then she started getting white hairs and her back was sore. Had massage and chiro and got ride of the sore back, her pelvis was out.

Bought a new saddle that was fitted to her (brought her with me) Mississippi Reinsman Trail saddle. Lasted not even a full year with this saddle before she "told" me that this saddle didn't fit, she wouldn't go up hills.

Managed to find an Alleghaney Mountain Trail saddle in a tree size that I thought fit her and the AMTS guy agreed. I've ridden in this saddle since April and she is moving pretty well, no balking at hills etc. Had to mess around with pads because if they are too thick I get big dry spots. Not riding in a very good pad right now but it works. But now her winter coat is coming and once again she has white hairs, although significantly less then when I first started having issues.

If I could ride bareback I would, but my lack of arse padding and her spine do not mix, plus I do not want to go on a 20 mile trail ride bareback.

I LOVE this horse, she is my soul mate and it pains me that I am causing her to have white hairs. I don't have any pics of the new white hairs but they are less.

Her saddle has to sit farther back on her because she has shoulders that are a bit farther back, if you move it up you are on top of her shoulders. But then the saddle can't be too long or you are on her hips. (not you but can't go with a square skirt).

I don't have any money to buy another saddle. I do have an old huntseat saddle from when I was younger, an Ainsley all purpose that has seen better days. Friends have said it is not good to do longer rides in the english saddle but it never hurt Cashel but then again I was young, had no clue about saddle fit etc. Although I haven't really tried it on this girl to see if it really fits. I do like having the security of a horn if I need it.

I've thought of treeless but frankly it scares me to death. Plus I'm heavy. Well 185 right now, down from 207. I'm 5'10"

I guess I'm just ranting because I am so [edit] frustrated.

Oct. 19, 2009, 01:51 PM
I've thought of treeless but frankly it scares me to death. Plus I'm heavy. Well 185 right now, down from 207. I'm 5'10"

I guess I'm just ranting because I am so god damn frustrated.

I just purchased my first treeless saddle, a Sensation Ride Hybrid saddle. I LOVE it. Although I have yet to recieve my own saddle (it has been shipped to me) I've been riding in the dealer's demo for several weeks. I thought I would never give up the security of a horn either but this saddle has such a deep secure seat that I don't miss the horn at all. I only weigh abour 10 pounds less than you do. I can mount my 15.3hh horse from the ground with this saddle and I can tell you I have never felt more secure in any saddle. If you look at how much you have spent on saddles that don't fit you could have already purchased one of these saddles. They do have a free demo program where all you pay is to have the saddle shipped to you and you get to ride in the saddle for a week or two. I highly recommend at least trying one. I demo'ed and purchased mine from Melissa at Freedomtreeless.com.

Oct. 19, 2009, 02:13 PM
...I do have an old huntseat saddle from when I was younger, an Ainsley all purpose that has seen better days. Friends have said it is not good to do longer rides in the english saddle but it never hurt Cashel but then again I was young, had no clue about saddle fit etc. Although I haven't really tried it on this girl to see if it really fits. I do like having the security of a horn if I need it.

First of all I'm so, so sorry you're going through such a frustrating process. I've been through it with three horses (though not as long as yours) and I know how frustrating it can be.

I don't have advice on saddles, other than to say that when we were battling the saddle fit issue with all of our guys, in the interim we rode all of them in well worn english saddles (dressage) with a Mattis pad. We would ride out for hours, and didn't really have a problem. If you want security, buy a grab strap -- they're cheap and give you something to grab onto if you need it. If it works for you, it will give you the time you need to keep on with your search.

It took us a few years to find a saddle for my hubby's ultra short backed SSH. We ended up realizing that a western saddle wasn't going to work for him, and we had a custom saddle made for him by Schleese. Stupid thing cost us more than the horse -- but 6 years later it's still a great fit for both my DH and the horse.

Oct. 19, 2009, 02:25 PM
I swear, I feel like banging my head against the wall. It's very frustrating. I will try my english saddle on her and see how that works, I'm not totally against it :)

Oct. 19, 2009, 02:31 PM
Maybe a Duett Companion Trail saddle?
http://i151.photobucket.com/albums/s133/TouchstoneAcres/Duett%20Saddles/th_compside2.jpg (http://s151.photobucket.com/albums/s133/TouchstoneAcres/Duett%20Saddles/?action=view&current=compside2.jpg)

Oct. 19, 2009, 02:43 PM
Maybe a Duett Companion Trail saddle?
http://i151.photobucket.com/albums/s133/TouchstoneAcres/Duett%20Saddles/th_compside2.jpg (http://s151.photobucket.com/albums/s133/TouchstoneAcres/Duett%20Saddles/?action=view&current=compside2.jpg)

Duetts are wonderful saddles BUT unless you have a flat/table-top backed horse, they'll bridge something awful. I know from experience!

My Duett Rondo fits my table-top backed Percheron beautifully (and I adore it) but does NOT fit my Clyde-cross, who is a bit more swoop-backed.

Oct. 19, 2009, 03:30 PM
I was having similar issues with saddle fit for two horses- I bought a Specialized and I LOVE it. They can be changed to fit a wide variety of horses. I started out with it fit to my gelding (who had been having back soreness due to poor saddle fit). They fitted it to him and its like a glove.
I then tried my own hand at a set up for my mare and I got it pretty close, I did have the fitters back out a few weeks ago to check it and they only made a small adjustment to give a little more surface area to the pads in back. Now its like having two custom fit saddles- for the price of one.
I did a 25 on her last weekend and the had absolutely no back soreness despite the fact that the ride was a lot harder (more hills) than I usually train on.

Tiger Horse
Oct. 19, 2009, 04:11 PM
I would definitely try a treeless - check out the treeless yahoo group. Lots of great information. For a heavier rider - it's all in getting the correct weight bearing pad. Security is a non issue with most of the treeless saddles I have tried. I have a Sensation English trail that I just LOVE and most importantly, so does my mare . . . really, they are definitely worth investigating!

Oct. 19, 2009, 04:51 PM
I also love my treeless, and I'm in your weight range. I can mount from the ground if need be with no slippage (I usually use a mounting block, regardless of the type of saddle.)

The important thing as others have mentioned is to get a good pad.

I've got a Grandeur Vario, which is made for the heavier rider:


Skito is another excellent one.

Oct. 19, 2009, 05:52 PM
Try a Freeform. It comes in a shortback version for horses that can't tolerate a saddle that goes too far back and it's one of the better treeless saddles when it comes to weight dispersion.

I'm about your weight and I ride in one frequently. My horses have never had any back problems with it. I use a skito pad underneath it.

If you want to go closer to bareback you might try the Little Joe Bareback Saddle. I had one to try for a review and I thought it was comfortable and pretty secure. I still like my Freeform better . . . but the Little Joe is a lot more affordable. The company also sells demos so you can probably get a deal!

Oct. 19, 2009, 06:47 PM
Saddle fitting a horse can be challenging. But also very frustrating.

I do not believe imo your "friends" gave very good advice about english saddles. I have been riding endurance since the 1990, first in a crosby olympia II all 50 milers except one until 1997. Then in 2002 I brought along a new horse, and he wears an Arabian Saddle Company Solstice, he has done one 50 miler and many LD's. I Crosby was too narrow, and I spent big bucks on a custom Synergist saddle and it was horrible, sent it back. Then I went back to my roots and got another english, works no sore backs. Those documented rides don't include all the training miles, and riding for pleasure miles. Now I am using the wide width same saddle the Solstice, on my new gaited horse, which I broke last november. I still love my Crosby, but it is a medium, and my arab with the short SHORT dippy back, and rocky who has a longer and flat back both take a wide so I have it in the house hanging out waiting for a medium width horse. 15 miles on a very very hilly TN terrain is the max mileage at one time I have ridden the gaited horse, and it took us 5:30 hours to do this. It was really and very humid hot, and we stood in the water, let them graze quite a bit. So it took longer to ride those miles.

Maybe your friends ride longer than others? Not trying to be ugly, but good grief. You have your own proof it didn't hurt your horse. Also, if it hurt a horse to ride english long miles, guess many 100 milers in endurance wouldn't be riding in them either. If your english saddle hurts you, it doesn't FIT you. It isn't a one size fits all.

I have not found a treeless saddle YET that is comfortable for me, NOR one that will fit my horses, nor my butt. I am 5.5 and 139#'s. I just tried one today. I was not about to girth it up on my gaited horse. Too narrow in the front, and it dug into her hips. And that was just it sitting on her. It was a BM treeless barrel saddle I borrowed from a friend. She has peruvians that she rides in these saddles. I have ridden in the same saddle on her peruvians and I didn't find it comfy. Course most of the time I was wondering if I was going to get impaled by the horse. :-) Luckily I didn't.

Treeless may work for some, but not all. Just like (giggle) not all bras fit all women. That is why there are so many out there!

Best thing to do imo is to find a saddle and PAY a professional saddle fitter to fit the saddle to your horse. They can also make suggestions on what saddles will fit your horse, yes, even a western saddle. You may have to ask the saddle fitter what saddle you and your horse will take before you buy one. You have to find the right professional saddle fitter, and no, a tack store person is not a saddle fitter. A saddle fitter will custom stuff your saddle to fit your horses back, and how it moves. Think of all the dressage and eventing people, you don't think they buy saddles and they fit right out of the box do ya? But . . sometimes it happens, and it did with the Solstice I have. If you buy a used english or dressage saddle you need to have it custom stuff to fit your horse. Lots of riders sit crooked, and even the horse can move crooked. So right off the bat you want that fixed before you ride that saddle for very long.

When I went to the saddle fitter, I asked why didn't my beloved Crosby fit my horse. They said why, and suggested a few saddles to choose from that would fit me and my horse. And, they were right. After I got the saddle I went to a different saddle fitter and had it checked and he said it didn't need ANY extra or less stuffing, it was a perfect fit. He was happy to work with me, and my small horse of 14.2H. Whereas most he works with are huge horses. ha ha.

If I get another saddle I would get the Crosby Softride, wow so comfy. Same as the Olympia, but it is the newer version. Mine I got in 1986. So how is THAT on dating myself. Want more tie rings, take to a leather or shoe repair place and they can sew on as many as you want. I just may get another Crosby, I like how it is a bit flatter, and a bit less deep than the Solstice. I don't need security at all in a saddle to stay on. That is another story, but you come off it hurts, so I won't ever and I make sure I don't. Guess riding arabs since the mid 80's taught me a good seat I dunno. They make great trail horses imo, and my Rocky is doing very good at trail horse stuff too.

Good luck and go back to your roots. We all have been there on the frustration of saddle hunting and fitting.

Oct. 19, 2009, 07:02 PM
Thats the thing with westerns, they can be very hard to fit some horses. There is noooo way I would ever find one for my warmblood- the shape of a western is so drastically different from him!

English saddles I think are way more adaptable. And I think its unreasonable to think you cant go trail riding in them. If you get a nicer one with wider panels- like bates or something, they are great. But I have gone on very long rides in my english (like foxhunting for 4 hours!)

Also, the parelli theraflex pad is very good for helping with fit. I own and english one and it is fabulous. Well worth the money, I have used it to 'rehabilitate' some horses backs that were very atrophied or sore. But I have no experience with the western pad. good luck

JackSprats Mom
Oct. 19, 2009, 08:50 PM
Friends have said it is not good to do longer rides in the english saddle

What is a 'longer ride'?

I do 25's in my wintec dressage saddle (500) because it fits him great and its not real leather so I don't have to worry about the weather. He has come through all his rides with A's on his back.

So ignore your friends advice and just look for a saddle that fits you and your horse comfortably be it english or western.

Oct. 19, 2009, 09:06 PM
I second the suggestion to join the treelesssaddles group on Yahoo.
This is a very active group with a wealth of information. There is probably no where else on the planet that you will find this much experience in one place in regards to treeless saddles. BTW...used saddles come up for sale on this group ALL the time. I'm just waiting for the right time and right saddle to snatch one up for myself. :)

Oct. 20, 2009, 08:01 AM
Thanks for all of the advice guys. I appreciate it. I am going to break out my english saddle and see how that fits her and ride in that if it does fit. Then perhaps if I get any tax money back this year I can look into a trying a treeless. I've ridden in a barefoot london when my friend had one when they first came out. I will say that I found the buckle for the stirrup irritated the inside of my thigh.

Oct. 20, 2009, 08:35 AM
it'll save you a lot of time and a lot of headache and will certainly save your horse some pain.

i have a hard to fit horse. i went through a period of 2 years where i thought i was going to loose my mind b/c of the saddle fit issues. on recommendation of a reputable tack shop i bought a saddle that did not fit my mare at all. when i realized that despite their assurances that the saddle fit my mare, i was still having issues, i finally located a highly recommended saddle fitter (not one associated with any particular brand) and had her come out and do a full saddle fitting on my mare. that's when all my saddle fitting issues ended. it's been 3 years now and i can't be happier. i no longer compete in distance riding but we spend a lot of time trail riding and my mare is absolutely comfortable and so am i.

Oct. 20, 2009, 10:35 AM
I second the Freeform. It is very similar in feel and shape to a traditional saddle and will fit anything. I ride a TB built mare in one and I'm 5'9" and 180. Everyone at the barn has been trying it out and they ALL love it, too. One of the other women just bought one because her old Appy hasn't moved out so well for years as he does in the Freeform. You need to use a good channel pad with it. The Skito and HAF are excellent but there are cheaper options available. I can't recommend this saddle enough!! I have the original classic I bought in 2005, she just got the Enduro X. Similar, but I wish mine has the fenders instead of stirrup leathers. I'll change them one of these days!

No one believe how incredibly comfortable it is until they sit in it! It's hard to find one used. They haven't been out for too long and it seems everyone who has one doesn't want to part with it!

Oct. 20, 2009, 04:51 PM

I am looking at the freeformusa website. No prices. How much?

Nice looking saddles.

What pad do you use?

So in this saddle you do not feel "perched" in the saddle? Many treeless, and some other endurance type saddles *to me* feel as though I am perched in the saddle. Like I am top heavy, and one good wrong move and I may be sideways. But . . . I am not about to come off.

Oct. 20, 2009, 05:01 PM
Action rider tack has prices: http://www.actionridertack.com/

I do not feel perched although some have complained that they don't like the extra padded thickness under the leg of mine. The Freewest or EnduroX don't come down as far as the classic. The other lady who bought one got a cutback base which I'd highly recommend for a high withered horse. It's slightly more but makes a lot of sense. I use a HAF pad and on my mare I add a wither cutout 3/4" generic felted wool pad underneath. The kind you see for sale to go under pretty western show blankets. Should just as well cut it down and place the shims in the HAF pad. I find the foam that comes in the HAF pad compresses too much to be really effective. Maybe they've changed it, mine's 4 years old. The pad underneath is large enough to be between the saddle bags and my horse so it serves a dual purpose.

Oct. 20, 2009, 05:31 PM
Plenty of used Freeforms floating around too. I bought mine from someone on the yahoo board for about $700.

Originally I wanted it because it has a modular seat and my daughter wanted to ride an enormously wide pony. I didn't want to buy a saddle "just" for her, so I bought two seats for the saddle.

Now it's my every day hacking/dressage saddle. You are slightly more "perched" than in a Torsion or barefoot but because of the way the seat is constructed you have more of a twist. That helps your leg drape better and keeps you from tilting your pelvis, ending up in a chair seat.

Oct. 20, 2009, 08:02 PM
Bogie and Gypsymare:

Thanks for the info on the saddles.

Way cool, action rider has the equipedic $20 or so cheaper than where I was looking. I see they also have the tipperary helmet. I love my Tippy helmet. Being that I am a bit of an "anti-helmet" person, I wear the tippy ALOT. I would say 98% of the time. It is just that comfy and cool to the head. Also warm to the head as I found out this weekend. I actually like this helmet. I had an international before, and hated it immensely, so the tippy is actually encouraging me to use it, and shhhhh, I am wearing it when I ride! With this helmet I hardly notice it is there. And for me being, (throat clearing) "anti-helmet" I like it!

Oct. 20, 2009, 08:49 PM
Although I originally rode in and fell in love with the Sensation Hybrid I've also ridden in the Sensation G4 Formal Dressage Saddle and, for an avowed western rider, I found it very secure and comfortable. There is no bulk under the leg and they have a narrow enough twist for me. I feel much more connected to my horse and can acutally feel him breathe! I've got to say that with the technology and the many different styles and manufacturers there is bound to be one treeless saddle the will be just right for you and your horse. :winkgrin: