View Full Version : Hard to Fit Horse - Saddle question

May. 15, 2010, 08:21 PM
What jumping saddles and criteria fit a horse with high withers? I have tried every saddle in the barn and only one saddle has wither clearance at 1 inch or more and its barely more than 1 inch. And its my brand new saddle for my horse - this is not for my horse.

This is a student's horse and she is 14 and cannot afford to go custom. So as we search for a new saddle - what makers and models and criteria fit for a horse with high withers?


May. 15, 2010, 08:23 PM
I have a Collegiate Diploma for my high-withered horse that I bought on a budget. I think I got it new for $800 or so. It's not a bad saddle, gets the job done.

May. 15, 2010, 09:27 PM
I had a very high withered warmblood. I used a Bates saddle with a Beval cut out pad. The cut out pads are great for high withered horses - you just have to make sure there's enough room in the shoulders for the saddle to fit.

lesson junkie
May. 15, 2010, 09:32 PM
Once you determine the correct tree size, look for a saddle with wool flocking. That way a saddle fitter can configure the panels to allow for the horse's withers/shoulder conformation. It shouldn't require a custom if your rider is a standard model herself!

May. 15, 2010, 09:50 PM
Bates close contact (or a Wintec close contact if really on a budget - pretty much the same saddle). They have the changeable gullet system. i tried a number of saddles on a project pony and found the Wintec to be the best fit of all I tried. Actually, the Bates fit the same, but since I could get the same fit for under 500 with the Wintec, I chose that one. I ride in a Beval but it is a wide saddle.

The narrow gullet on this saddle fits the high withered, narrow shoulder poony really well.

May. 15, 2010, 10:13 PM
There's way more to it than wither clearance. We need to know whether the back is broad off the spine, or drops off - table top vs A frame. Need to know if the shoulders are wide or not. Need to know if the front-back profile is flat or curvy - table or banana.

Answers to table top vs A frame will knock out roughly half the saddles. Table top vs banana will knock half of that out. Wide shoulders will knock out more.

There are a variety of sub-$1k and just over $1k saddles that are very good quality that fit any of the shapes I listed. But the horse that a Collegiate fits is not going to be the horse that a County fits. M Tolouse makes some very decent saddles for that price range, and some of them will also clear high withers. An older Vega Jump fits wide shoulders, curvy backs, and high withers all in one.

May. 15, 2010, 10:20 PM
here are two pictures of him to show his conformation...



He has a great coat - shame you cant see it - he rolled and then it rained. I ran out and took a picture ...

He is not wide but not narrow in the back. But you can see it has a roll and the saddle is going to need to be unique. Not sure if you can tell but he has BIG movement and a really large range of movement over a jump - he pulls his front legs up to his eyeballs. And his hind end is really strong. When I went over the pain pressure points - it was all in his withers and half way up the neck a little one. Total quiet response through the hind. He loved a belly lift - he loves the carrot stretches - I did the wither chop (I am talking basic massage stuff) and he would not leave me alone - yawning and loving on me so I know that is the target area now.

May. 15, 2010, 10:27 PM
What does the lateral view look like (ie viewed from behind)? How big are his shoulders compared to behind the shoulders?

He's flat enough and long enough in the back that something along the lines of the Diploma has the potential to fit. It was going to fit my TB mare with more prominent withers if it had been flat enough in the front-back range - she is too curvy for it.

May. 16, 2010, 10:35 AM
I would have to look. I have a picture from the front which shows the shoulder and it appears he is wider behind the shoulder but I am not sure what you are asking. His shoulder is pretty long and there is a long range of motion. He is not a narrow build and his chest is medium - in the English community, I think it is substantial - in the western community it might be just medium.

Any saddle besides the diploma? The diploma sounds fine but I just wondered if there was anything else that was sort of designed to work on this build. She has a Crosby right now that is older but in great condition. It had about 1 inch clearance when she first started riding in it - not enough but more than we could get on the others she tried but he has filled out so much.

May. 16, 2010, 10:52 AM
If you could take a picture from above and behind him, like standing on a stool, being safe of course ;) with his head/neck straight (held there by someone if necessary) that shows both sides of his shoulder, his neck and withers, and his spin and ribs off them, all the way back, that would be very, very beneficial :)

Do you have access to a local tack shop with a variety of saddles? If so, get them however you can, even if it means putting the cost on your card to be taken off again (or the owner's card, whatever) and just start sitting them on the horse. Take pictures ;) The best pics for initial assessment are unpadded, ungirthed, directly from the side, showing allllll of the withers and shoulders and girth and back and saddle, so that the saddle's position relative to the entire horse can be seen.

3 other pictures will complete the view

- 3/4 front view again showing allll the shoulder/withers/saddle
- 3/4 hind view showing all the saddle
- direct rear view which clearly shows the rear panels and the horse's back, to show how they sit on him in the lateral world.

You can try M Toulouse but I think they'll be too curvy for him in the CC saddles (their dressage saddles are much flatter). Anything in the Collegiate line is worth trying

May. 16, 2010, 11:12 AM
JB, I think most of your advice is spot on--but I would say this horse is pretty curvy. Once you account for him not standing square in the picture, and you imagine that hind leg brought into place, the topline is quite curvy indeed.

But beyond that, I agree that it's impossible to make make/model recommendations without that rear shot.

May. 16, 2010, 11:23 AM
You could look into Black Country. My horse has high withers and a broad shoulder and back so he was a difficult fit...We have a L'Apogee that works great....

May. 16, 2010, 11:52 AM
I had an HdR Show Jumper that fit my high-withered TB very well for a while. Then he really muscled up through his back and shoulders, making it too tight on his shoulder, but the clearance over his withers was not a problem.

May. 16, 2010, 09:31 PM
JB, I think most of your advice is spot on--but I would say this horse is pretty curvy. Once you account for him not standing square in the picture, and you imagine that hind leg brought into place, the topline is quite curvy indeed.
LOL, are we looking at the same horse? :lol:

I think he's much closer to table than banana. That doesn't mean he won't need a panel that has an upsweep in the rear if the saddle has to get back far enough to stay out of the way of his shoulders, but even that's kinda iffy IMHO as he's got a long enough back.

May. 16, 2010, 09:53 PM
Can't see the pics but one point about the Crosby--

While their regular trees are on the narrow side by modern standards, the very old Crosbys like Prix des Nations were built with relatively thin panels. And they compress with time.

That means the whole saddle fits close to the horse's back. This might be why the tree seems right to you, but you still have precious little clearance over the withers.

So in your travels, you might want to look for saddles that seem to have thicker panels and a taller gullet.

Off the top of my head, if you have the opportunity to try on an older Amerigo, try it. Those handle the tall-withered well as a rule.

May. 16, 2010, 10:17 PM
Yep - Vega/Amerigo :D