View Full Version : need a new saddle - please help

Mar. 25, 2010, 02:07 PM
Hi I'm a newbie here but am desperately searching for a new saddle for my new arabian mare. Am getting conflicting advice from saddle fitters. To make matters worse, three people will be riding in the saddle, myself (5 ft 1 in, 180 lbs), my daughter (5 ft 2 in, 125 lbs) and my son (5 ft 9 in and 150 lbs, and all leg!). One saddlefitter tells me I need an upswept panel for her short back (photos below if it works!) another tells me the 18 th vertebrae rule doesn't need to be followed. Yet another tells me that I need a saddle with a more forward balance point because of my short leg (ok I can see that point) and a "quick to rise from hip to pubic bone" whatever that means. Have tried Black Country (horse loved, trainer said my seat sucked in them), passier (nice but panels WAY too long and flaps too long), toulouse (one pinched her badly and one had lumps under the seat), HDR Paris (hated it, lasted two laps around arena and got off). Courbette Bernina (trainer loves it, I just don't like it, tips me forward and hurts in front). Currently have on way to me an HDR Pro lexus and Rembrandt Laurea (not adjustable). Saddlefitter said both have the quick to rise fit in front (whatever that means) and a more forward balance point.

My budget keeps shrinking (it started out big enough for the Black Country but...) it seems like there is an emergency every week, truck breaks, kid needs new tires on his car, etc. Need my saddle before the money is gone!!!

Am going to try to attach photos of my mare. The pink tape shows wehre I took wither tracings and the back tape is about her 18th vertebrea to show how short her bearing area is.

PLEASE any ideas are welcome, I never knew it could be this hard. Rode in a wintec for 7 years, put it on everybody and didn't worry about it, but am sick of it and want a good fitting saddle for my darling mare.


Well ok, so that failed, another question, how do you get pictures in?:confused:

Mar. 25, 2010, 02:19 PM
Lovatt and Ricketts has saddles made specifically for Arabians. I have the Ellipse and love it.

I also have a new treeless saddle (you can see comments on it in another post on here) and that one has interchangeable seats, which works well for me and my daughter. I have a smaller seat for her, and a larger for myself… your comment about different people using the same saddle made me think of that.

Edited to add: I ride an Arabian and spent a long time finding saddles to fit her. In my tack room are the two above: Lovatt & Ricketts Ellipse (dressage) and Freeform Elite Dressage. Both fit her beautifully, which is a big deal because Arabs really are shaped differently than the bulk of dressage horses out there. It's not just the vertebrea issue you're mentioning. It's the whole shape of the Arabian horse.

Mar. 25, 2010, 02:46 PM
Try the Frank Baines saddles. you can google Trumball Mountain tack or tackcollection. Both places give you the ability to test their saddles.

My Baines Ellegance has suited my wide bodied 1/2 Arab for 11 years. (With minor restuffing).

Mar. 25, 2010, 03:00 PM
Oops, sorry I forgot to mention I tried the FB Elegance (fit the horse but not comfortable for any of us, chair seat) and FB Reflex (didn't fit horse or riders, tipped us forward, bad fit on horse, but great grippy leather). I pretty much tried everything Trumbull mtn suggested might work, and hte horse or trainer vetoed them all!!! And yes they ARE wonderful to work with. I was really bummed none of them worked. Plus the shipping plus insurance took a big chunk of my saddle budget. did get a great sheepskin girth from them though for my princess and pea mare, so it wasn't all lost.:eek:

Mar. 25, 2010, 03:09 PM
You are not going to get a saddle that will fit all 4 of you, lets hope you can get one to fit the horse (most important) and at least the rider who will be riding the horse the most. You at 5'1" and 180 probably need a 20" seat or something like that, while the kids would need a 17"-18" Seat. So maybe think about getting at least 2 saddles since you are all so vastly different in mass? How about something like a used Wintec Isabell for the kids?

Mar. 25, 2010, 03:22 PM
Seat size relates to the rider's conformation. It is not all about the size of the "booty" or the length of the thigh - it all comes into play.
Tree shape - as far as twist and rise goes - relates to the rider's pelvis and hip joint.
Tree shape and width and panel length relates to the horse.

(I know this is very simplified).

try LOTS of saddles. Hone in on a seat size. I have found it impossible to assess the fit of a saddle if I am riding in a sample trial saddle that is not the right seat size. THEN find a tree both you and your horse likes. As far as the other folks go, well, the trainer should be able to deal with a saddle that fits you and the horse (that's kinda their job, I think, dealing....), your daughter and son - are they riding often? Who is showing?

Finding a saddle is a nightmare. Good luck.


Mar. 25, 2010, 03:25 PM
fancy pants
We all are comfortable in an 18 (I am heavy but very solid, not so fluffy). Mare is supposed to be mine and my son's to share (he is 20) but to be honest, while she is green he is doing more of the riding, I need to lose weight before I do much with her. Weight watchers here I come:D

We have tried the Isabelle before, that particular saddle is our all time least favorite. Current saddle is a Wintec pro and everyone is tired of it. If I had the budget I would definitely go for 2 saddles becasue I would really like a shorter flap than what my son needs.

I agree with you though, fit the horse first and then make sure we are comfortable in it. The question really is does the mare need an upswept panel or is it ok to go past the 18th vertebrae? Everyone seems to have a different answer to this and I really dont' want to hurt her back.:confused:

Mar. 25, 2010, 03:57 PM
If your Arab is small backed, I would not be getting a saddle that is too long for her back to support. I'd try to find something with either an upswept panel or a saddle designed for Arab backs. A suggestion... start a new thread asking what are the best dressage saddles for Arabs. You might get a better response.

I'm glad you all seem to fit well with an 18" seat at least. It's too bad you can't get more than one saddle though... that would be the ideal senario since you, your son and daughter all have such different builds. But... I totally understand about budget restraints.

As for photos... you need to put them on Photobucket or some similar photo sharing website and post a link to them.

PS - I just had my Weight Watchers weigh-in today. My goal is to lose 20 lbs. I'm down 11.2 lbs. since starting on February 18.

Mar. 25, 2010, 04:00 PM
Seat size relates to the rider's conformation. It is not all about the size of the "booty" or the length of the thigh - it all comes into play.


Mar. 25, 2010, 04:11 PM
lol! they're all wrong aren't they? arabs only have 17 vertebrae I thought. :)

in all seriousness, the horse is the ultimate judge as to what "rules" can be ignored or adhered to. However, something like pressure on the back of the last rib might not manifest for several months, so I personally prefer to err on the side of caution. That being said, its not "upswept or nothing" for you, there are a ton of panel options out there that do not extend too far beyond the back of the saddle, and they can be gusseted just not stick out too far.

You have tried quite a bit. You must've spent hundreds in shipping and your head must be swimming. Now is the chance for all of this effort to pay you back and make sense of it all. :) Make a list of every saddle you've tried, mark the ones the horse liked, mark the ones you liked. Then look at photos of them online, side by side, see what conformation traits the saddles the horse liked have in common, and the same for what traits the saddles you guys liked had in common. If you put the photos next to each other, the similarities will pop out. Identify what it is you liked, and what the horse liked, and then shop based on that criteria.

Some brands to consider off the top of my head are jaguar, roosli, amerigo or dominus, prestige, those have panels that are wool or foam, and are supportive in the back but still shorter and somewhat upswept. The BC's I've had and the FB's I've looked at tend to have panels that protrude out the back.

Arabian saddle co, or L&R are also great suggestions, as they're made for arabs. Thornhill is very worth the look as well, as is passier.

Consider foam panels, quality foam is not a bad thing at all. All of my high dollar custom saddles have been foam, it offers vastly more fit options because the panel is carved to shape, not stuffing in a bag, so you can get maximum support with minimum of padding. I'm in love with a saddle I just got that has gel-foam panels, fabulous stuff, my horse loves it.

sorry to ramble on, hope this is helpful in some way.

Eclectic Horseman
Mar. 25, 2010, 04:51 PM
If you are on a budget, look at the Duett Encore. Got one to fit very well on a young Arab that I started a while back.


Mar. 25, 2010, 05:07 PM
Tremendously good luck with Schleese JES type saddles. I got one off e-bay from another Arabian rider, it fit her horse too, just not her. The saddle fit my little Arabian very well, and puts me in a great position.

ETA: I am 5'11", the flap is nice for me. Another tall rider used it and loved it...no shorties tried it out though, so I can't give you any info there. The previous owner was probably about 5'5" (??)

Mar. 25, 2010, 07:20 PM
Rugbygirl- I called on an ad for a Schleese Wave but the gal never called me back. Was bummed because Schleese website said it was designed for shortbacked horses, but will keep my eye open for used Schleeses.

Eclectic - I have looked at Duett but not tried them yet, I kind of like the fidelio model but it seems to have long panels, thats my major concern with them. If these that are coming dont' work, I may give them a try tho.

Buck22 - great suggestion about the side by side photos, I have been trying to do that but it is hard as they are all taken from different angles! Vega is one I have thought about but was discouraged from trying them because I was told they might be "tight" in the seat for me:cry: Thornhill is another that I have been looking at but no local dealers so again mailing charges! And you are right I am at least 500 into the freight/insurance charges now and I feel like my head is spinning like something out of the exorcist! Any particular model of Thornhill that you think might work well? Of all teh ones I tried, I really think I liked the Passier the best but the flaps were WAY too long for me (18 in) and the panels were way long on my mare (although teh shape was good).

Rodawn, I don't want to use hte Wintec this mare because it really does not fit her right, the tree shape just isn't right regardless of the gullet inserted. We are using it with a pad right now to protect her until we get a better fitting one. My daughter has a Collegiate Intellect that we use on her mare but I don't want to swap tehm back and forth as it is settled into the other mares shape (and they are very different).

For all who said Lovatt and Ricketts - right now they are out of reach dollarwise but if I find some money (irs be kind to me) and these others don't work, I may have to try them but am trying to stay a little cheaper right now.

thanks again, this is horrid trying to get a saddle.

Mar. 25, 2010, 07:35 PM
Paintlady - 11 lbs in one month!!! Way to go!!! You will be ready for show season soon at that rate. I hope I have that kind of luck.

Just added up what I thought was my "healthy days bfast and lunch" and I have 1 point left for dinner. oopS not a good way to start. And I need to lose like 65 lbs to be where I really should be but can settle for 40 or so, that would be a great improvement.

Mar. 25, 2010, 07:45 PM
For all who said Lovatt and Ricketts - right now they are out of reach dollarwise but if I find some money (irs be kind to me) and these others don't work, I may have to try them but am trying to stay a little cheaper right now.

I found mine used for $800, perfect condition, several years old but looked practically brand new. They are such good quality saddles and last forever, in addition to being a fabulous fit on Arabs. I am by far an advocate of the good quality used saddle over the lesser quality new one.

Mar. 25, 2010, 07:45 PM
I have a half arabian (other half Dutch WB) he is a short backed big bodied fella. The BEST SADDLE EVER!! The Schleese Link II, it took some rebalancing for me but my horse really really loves it. He is offering all sorts of movement, we went from trying to get changes to getting tempis. It is a monoflap with external knee rolls and I have a much softer feel with my seat and my horse seems to now respond quicker and quicker to my aids. Not cheap but worth it to me. I got it lightly used but it was still more than I ever paid before.

I got an 18" seat that is actually about three inches shorter on my horse's back than my previous JES 17.5" Schleese. The Link also is cut back for the shoulders and my guy is really reaching for lenthenings now.

Raleigh's Mom
Mar. 25, 2010, 08:41 PM
I second looking at the Duett's. I worked with a saddle fitter for my Arab and tried a Black Country and Arabian Saddle Company (Lovatt and Rickets), among others, and ended up with a Duett. The panels on the Duett Tango ended up fitting my boy the best. It is one of their trail models, but looks "dressagey". I am quite happy with the saddle and the $ was good, too.

Mar. 25, 2010, 09:58 PM
How about something like a used Wintec Isabell for the kids?

Great Idea! :D

Elegante E
Mar. 25, 2010, 11:00 PM
Great Idea! :D

The wintec Issabel is a LONG saddle, not good for a short backed horse. It's not just about how the back of the panels are up swept or not, but if they stick out behind the seat by a lot.

I can't imagine that a quick rise would be good for anyone. That implies the front twist of the saddle being steep to the pommel. Ick.

If you want a saddle that fits more riders, a non deep seat is best (deep seats are more confining).

Have heard good things about Arabian Saddle Co. (made by Lovatt and Rickets in the UK).

Mar. 25, 2010, 11:17 PM
I bought a 17" FB Elegance for my mare. It seemed to fit her but it caused a lump on her spine :0 and we could never find a cause for it as it had such beautiful soft packing - just didn't seem to quite fit her... But what I wanted to say was that it was a really long saddle - longer than my other 17" saddle. I had to buy new saddle blankets - bigger ones ... I also struggled to keep my position in it. BUT it was such a beautiful saddle. But I sold it :( So just keep trying different types until you find what suits your mare. It's a big ask to find something to fit you all ... but first it must fit your mare and go from there. I would think a 20" would be way to long on her back - I've never seen such a big saddle. Oh and good luck!

Hampton Bay
Mar. 25, 2010, 11:31 PM
How about trying an OLD Passier? The seat is flatter, so you might be able to go down a size, plus they seem to fit better on a short-backed horse. Also, the flaps on the old ones aren't nearly so long.

Aside from that, I would borrow literally every saddle you can find locally to see if it fits your mare. If it doesn't fit her, unless the tree is way too wide or narrow, then discard that as an option. If it does fit her, see if you can find one in your size to try. If you work with a trainer, ask if you can borrow whatever she has, and ask other boarders too.

Mar. 26, 2010, 01:26 AM
hampton - i am actually keeping my eye open for an old passier but they are hard to come by in wide trees. and alot of them have pretty narrow channnels but the right one could be quite a find. although I admit I cringe a bit at the thought of going back to teh hard, flat, slick as glass, no knee blocks saddle. When I was young and fit it was fine, these days I really appreciate my cush and block and nice grippy leather!!!

Hampton Bay
Mar. 26, 2010, 01:35 AM
You can have the tree altered and blocks added to a Passier though. And if you find the right seat size, they are quite a steal. There is one local to me for $250, excellent condition. It's a 17" though. If I were looking I would buy it.

Mar. 26, 2010, 11:21 AM
Have you tried an old (and the keyword here is OLD) passier? Every horse I've put mine on, and every person who's sat in it has loved it. I'm 5'2 and about 110 lbs and my best friend is just under 6'. We both ride comfortably in it.

eta: wow just read page 2, yes FIND AN OLD PASSIER!