View Full Version : Now I know what "shark fin withers are!"

Jan. 13, 2010, 06:14 AM
I have run across a horse with "shark fin withers"!! I was never quite sure what that meant but you can't miss them when you see them! This horse is a lesson horse at the farm where I am teaching. He does not have a saddle that fits him properly and the riding academy will NOT spring for a custom.
So I am coming to the experts, I am going to start to look around for a used saddle for this poor boy, his back is sore because the saddles they are using don't fit, the school can spend around $600-800 on a new saddle for him. Any suggestions on what type of saddle might work best? Of course I would take one on trial to make sure its a better fit for him.
I will add that along with the shark fin, he has WIDE shoulders and that seems to really present a huge problem as well.
suggestions greatly appreciated!

Jan. 13, 2010, 06:27 AM
Some of the old Passiers fit my shark-finned TB really well (perhaps the new ones would, too, but I've never used a newer Passier). Also, I had a Crosby Hunterdon that fit him perfectly. That was his "custom" saddle. You can picked them up used for a song now.

Good luck!

Jan. 13, 2010, 06:38 AM
I second the old passiers and also Jeffries Flyovers tend not to hurt them. If you go the used saddle route you might have luck with old Crumps, if you can find one wide enough. I've found that the older saddles tend to work better. You might be able to find a Passier on Ebay or at Middleburg Tack Exchange (Middleburg will let you try them and send them back if they don't work). You could turn this into a saddle fitting lesson : )

Jan. 13, 2010, 06:39 AM
This may not help you, but:


It's a webpage for Amerigo close contact saddles. The company has a good reputation for fitting the shark-finned. The pics will who you the shape back each model fits.

These will also be above your farm's budget. But if you have a chance to try an Amerigo on him, it may help you figure out what to look for in a less expensive saddle.

Otherwise, try and try and try different saddles on him to see what might kind of work.

So sorry to hear about a schoolie with a sore back! They have a tough time.

Jan. 13, 2010, 07:54 AM
Try to find a cutback saddle. They were designed to fit the shark-fin wither-types. You'll most commonly find them in older Crosbys and Passiers. Example: http://cgi.ebay.com/Crosby-Prix-Des-Nations-Close-contact-saddle-cutback_W0QQitemZ160393212792QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH _DefaultDomain_0?hash=item25582e3378.

Jan. 13, 2010, 08:11 AM
I saw a great deal on a newer version of the saddle I recently reacquired that I LOVE in your price range: http://cgi.ebay.com/17%22-Smith-Worthington-Stoneleigh-Retails-$3006_W0QQitemZ130344953548QQcmdZViewItemQQimsxZ20 091116?IMSfp=TL091116192008r17129

I need a 17.5 or I would have already bought it. These are super saddles and will last forever -- mine has been through 15 years of hard use, and I mean riding 12 horses per day hard use for many of those years. It still looks great and is terrific for shark-fin withers due to the cutback, as Sidesaddlerider mentioned. I originally purchased mine for my wide TB with shark-fin withers and it was perfect.

Jan. 13, 2010, 08:13 AM
I'm not sure if you'd want to go synthetic, but Thorogood has a high withered saddle designed for ex-racers that is kind to the shark fins. I first saw one on an old thoroughbred and it compensated nicely for that high wither then dip behind them. The saddles have interchangable gullets and the fish system for additional adjustements too.


Editing to add a US link:


Jan. 13, 2010, 08:58 AM
Passiers all seem to be cutback. Lotsa' Stubbens too! Older Crosby's were really made for the classic TB withers.

Used saddles can be a real bargain...I'd really suggest a nice used Passier or Stubben if you're going to have guys riding in the saddle, Crosby if it's only womenfolk in it.

Jan. 13, 2010, 09:02 AM
The best saddle we ever had for a shark-fin withered, but not narrow horse was and Ashland by Northrun. It was a very nice saddle and it fit the horse and the kid very well :yes:
Following that, I'd agree with the suggestion to try an older Crosby with a cut back pommel. You could try a Prix de Nations, Mark VI (also V & VII), Hampton Classic....
We have two saddles with adjustible gullets - Bates Caprilli cc and Collegiate Diploma - neither fit this particular horse in any configuration.

Jan. 13, 2010, 09:47 AM
If they aren't going to have someone come out and flock whatever used saddle you find- seriously consider a Thorowgood instead. You can change out the gullet plate, and insert fish to fill in the TB typical hollows on either side of the giant wither.

Jan. 13, 2010, 11:35 AM
I second the Passier, my TB fit into one very well.

I have had good luck with the Thorowgood saddles, too, although I haven't had any experience trying to fit a shark fin TB with one, I had luck fitting a very wide QH mare.

Good luck! Those Shark Fin withers are SO HARD to fit!

Jan. 13, 2010, 12:22 PM
I second the Ashland - the shape of the tree fits the high withered wide shouldered TB like it was made for them. A cut back saddle won't work for one's that have high, long withers - it will interfere further back along the gullet.

You can find a used Ashland in that price range (I just saw one locally for $700).

Jan. 13, 2010, 12:29 PM
Ill third the ashland. I had a Wide tree Butet that was a perfect fit for my last sharky TB. However, you will be hard pressed to find a used butet in that range. The ashland offers the same shape though!

Jan. 13, 2010, 01:39 PM
I agree on the Amerigos. I have a Vega for my very shark-finned TB and it fits him great. Also, I had an older Crosby before I found the Vega, and it was workable....so you might want to check those out too.

Jan. 14, 2010, 10:09 AM
My shark finned TB likes my ooooold passier dressage saddle. The thing looks like its 30 years old, but my god is it comfy for him AND me :D.

Jan. 14, 2010, 10:13 AM
Oh the shark fin....

I found a lovely Black Country GP Event on ebay last year for my shark-finned TB. It fits him like a glove. I believe it had been customized for a high-withered horse. I paid $600 for it, they retail new for about 2k. BC's don't seem to have high resale value but they are beautiful saddles, so you may be able to find one on the cheap.

I have always had close contacts so this was a bit of a departure for me, as it has a deeper seat, straighter flap, and is heavily padded... but I will tell you what, it is THE MOST comfortable saddle I've ever sat in. And even though its padded there is no compromising feel. Not bulky at all.

Good luck!

Jan. 14, 2010, 12:48 PM
I am using an ancient Barnsby on my guy. It is the first saddle that I have found to fit him. It is flat and does not have much padding, so he is comfortable and me, not so much.

Jan. 14, 2010, 02:08 PM
I will fourth (??) the Ashland. While I have never owned one, I was recommended that saddle by several people when I went saddle shopping. They are somewhat easy to come by used as well.

I would up getting a BdH (the older one that was recently discontinued by Dover). I'm not sure how the new "Special Edition" would fit, but the BdH works great on my guy - he also has a huge shoulder and big withers and it is one of the only saddles that doesn't slide back like crazy! With some patience, you may be able to find one used in your price range.

Also, I had a Beval Stamford which worked pretty well too. While I wasn't impressed with the leather quality, it was a good, balanced saddle that fit the "shark finned" horse very well. I believe that a new Beval Stamford would be in your price range.

Good luck trying out saddles!

Jan. 14, 2010, 05:40 PM
Thanks for giving me a shopping fix vicariously -- This post got me browsing Rick's site -- Only looked through the first 3 pages, but found a couple of candidates --


http://www.saddlesource.com/proddetail.asp?prod=B47920 (seat maybe too small unless the lesson program is mostly kids)

Blackberry Farm
Jan. 14, 2010, 08:08 PM
Great suggestions here. I like Amerigo personally. Dominus distributed the saddle before it was purchased by Amerigo. It was called the Bruce Davidson. It's now made in a nicer leather and costs much more. Sooo, you might get hold of a used B. Davidson Dominus for $600-700 or so. The Beval has worked for me too. Mainly, I would use Trumbull Mtn. and send wither tracings and pix. You'll pay a bit if you have to ship back and forth, but there prices are great and they are super helpful. I've had good luck with the folks at Beval as well- buying used. Good luck!

Jan. 14, 2010, 11:47 PM
Is this horse wide with a shark fin, or just really narrow all around. My old man has a wide back with a shark fin wither, but actually needs the extra wide gullet in a Wintec because he isn't really sunk around his withers since he is pretty fat.

Don't underestimate the use of a pad that fills in around the withers, or a wither relief pad.

I will add that the Thorogood saddles seem to be praised highly for their fit and comfort, and they come at a great price also!