View Full Version : Dressage saddles for VERY short backed horses

Jan. 7, 2011, 10:36 PM
I have a horse with a VERY short back and a very big shoulder. Since no saddle seems to fit my horse, I am now faced with purchasing a custom saddle. Before I take the plunge financially I wanted to reach out and see if anyone had ever experienced anything similar? What saddle did you find that fit your horse?


Jan. 7, 2011, 11:09 PM
We must have twin horses. Mine is also very short backed with big shoulders. He was constantly back sore even with "custom fittings" until I finally went custom all the way and bought a Trilogy Verago. I cannot stress enough, however, that in addition to having the right saddle, you have to have a good saddle fitter.

Hampton Bay
Jan. 7, 2011, 11:14 PM
A friend has had a ton of luck with the Schleese Wave for her long leg and small, short-backed horse. She bought hers used and then had it flocked to fit the horse.

Jan. 7, 2011, 11:51 PM
I went with a custom Frank Bains for my short backed, big shouldered gelding. Compared to other custom saddles they were quite affordable, and addressed my saddle fit concerns (for both me and my horse).


Jan. 7, 2011, 11:57 PM
I went with a custom Frank Bains for my short backed, big shouldered gelding. Compared to other custom saddles they were quite affordable, and addressed my saddle fit concerns (for both me and my horse).

If you do not mind me asking - how much does a Frank Baines saddle cost?

Jan. 8, 2011, 12:11 AM
I am currently awaiting my customized Hastilow Concept dressage saddle. Mr Hastilow is modifying his standard design to put in an upswept rear panel with small gussets, short flaps, and wither gussets in the front to try to stabilize the saddle from slipping forward onto her shoulder and the panels are going to be serge to be more forgiving on her back. It is on a broadback tree to accomodate my mares very flat back. I have high hopes for this as the trial saddle has made a big difference in how my mare goes. This one is $2600.

Jan. 8, 2011, 06:58 AM
My 15 2 Arabian boy and I are doing great with our Thornhill Danube. He has a wither and a short, curvy back, as well as a long sloping shoulder and big barrel, so he's not the easiest to fit. The panels (whatever they are called - ones coming along the front coming down the shoulder) on the shoulder are half, so his shoulder has more room to move and the area around the wither is very padded. I found mine on Ebay at half price, so $750+, so it was within the budget. It is a 17 1/2 width 34. I live in an area where there aren't many/any saddlefitters. I'm 5' 4" average weight, but with a long femur. An 18" probably would have been better for me as I feel a bit locked in, but my seat is comfy and I can post fine.

Jan. 8, 2011, 07:23 AM
Black Country

Jan. 8, 2011, 08:48 AM
If you do not mind me asking - how much does a Frank Baines saddle cost?

Frank Baines saddles are generally in the $2500-3000 range new. Used prices seem to vary quite a bit. I've seen used Baines from a little under $1000 to over $2000. They are excellent quality saddles. They fit a variety of horses and balance the rider well.

Jan. 8, 2011, 10:11 AM
I actually have a Stubben Genesis for the short backed pony. The only difference is that pony does not have a large shoulder hes broad with a curvy back, yes but not so much across the shoulders. Hes in an XW which is a 34, I know custom Stubbens can come wider but off the shelf 34 is as wide as you can get.

I tired a bunch of saddles on him and a lot of the actually touched his loin area, and they were 17 inch seats. My Stubben is an 18 and doesn't come near to touching his loin. The only other ones that were short enough were older with more upswept panels.

The other short back horse that comes into the barn for training has a custom Frank Baines, and she has a HUGE shoulder. Super nice saddle I've never ridden in it only looked at it. Not my horse, and I only know what it is because it was recommended to me to try that brand, because I was looking for the same thing.

Jan. 8, 2011, 10:20 AM
Ditto the Schleese Wave for my gelding's short saddle support area.

Jan. 8, 2011, 10:26 AM
A lot of saddles can have an upswept panel...a good saddle fitter should be able to tell you if that will work for your boy at a more tolerable price than going full custom.

Jan. 8, 2011, 10:28 AM
I was able to get a used Barnsby "Raven" on Ebay for $400 - perfect condition and it fits my 15 hh shortbacked Arabian perfectly. He has a large shoulder and mutton withers and a large barrell, so most saddles we tried came back way too far and sat on his kidneys, or pinched his shoulders. This one is a 17 1/2" seat and has a medium width tree. Fits us both fine - I was super lucky to catch the deal, for sure. :yes:

Jan. 8, 2011, 10:46 AM
My OTTB mare is the same!

I had my Schleese Wave shortened for @$1200 total (sent to Canada, etc.)

They shortened the weight bearing base both on the front panel, as well as, on the rear panels.

Jan. 8, 2011, 10:56 AM
Ditto the Schleese Wave for my gelding's short saddle support area.

Yes! Love the saddle.

Jan. 8, 2011, 02:10 PM
you need a saddle with upswept panels. Also, (and it took me years to figure this out with my big shoulder/short back guy) it really helps the saddle fit better when you move the saddle back a bit. I know that seems like it would make a shortbacked horse sore, but its just the opposite. When the shoulder hits the saddle every step it actually sends more pressure to the back of the saddle and can make the horse sore through the loins area.

Also, remember to always give your horse time to adjust to a new saddle even when custom fitted. It's like having one pair of shoes you wear and work out in everyday and then switching to a new pair all at once. Even when the new pair fits better, it still makes your feet sore. So this means using a new saddle for 20 mins the first day and going up from there. Now 3 hour trail rides the first week :) Better to prevent soreness when we can than to try and fix it later.

Best of luck. My horse goes great in a devoucoux placed a full hand behind the shoulder. Only saddle he doesn't get sore in.

Jan. 8, 2011, 02:16 PM
I bought a black country that had been built as a concept saddle for another cother. It was designed for big shoulders and a wide flat short back. Incredible fit and an amazing balanced, comfortable ride (the seat is double padded). My daughter was watching me ride a lightly backed youngster and she commented on how the saddle didn't interfere with the horse at all. I believe the tree is based on the BC Celeste, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, the saddle was designed by by Patti Merli (843) 810-2485 who is an independent saddle fitter who works all along the east coast.

Jan. 8, 2011, 02:31 PM
My Frank Baines cost me about $2800.00 Canadian. I think the price would be quite dependent on the exchange rate with the UK though, so not sure what it would come to now, as I think the exchange rate may be better now than it was.

Jan. 8, 2011, 04:03 PM
Ditto the Schleese Wave-shorter tree with swept back points to accommodate the massive shoulder...it is however a very heavy saddle and didnt fit me well with my shorter thigh and its massive knee rolls--the deep seat was lovely though.

I have also had remarkable success fitting my massive shouldered flatter/wider backed pony with a Devoucoux Makila.

Jan. 8, 2011, 04:10 PM

Jan. 8, 2011, 10:25 PM
roosli pilatus

Jan. 9, 2011, 09:44 AM
I've had many saddles for my extremely short backed dutch mare. The Roosli is the best I have found. Roosli also makes a model called the Luzerne which is roomier in the shoulders and has a special panel in the front so the saddle does not slip forward. Drool...These can be custom ordered. Good Luck! I feel your pain!!

Jan. 9, 2011, 10:16 AM
For my young mare, I bought a used Stubben Juventus (sp?). She needed something that wouldn't get in the way of her long shoulder, and she has a fairly short back. This saddle fits me and her very well. It's considered a "youth" saddle but it works well for smaller/shorter riders too. Overall--it's proportions seem just a little downsized compared to my other dressage saddle for my other horse (Passier Grand Gilbert with short flaps).

Jan. 9, 2011, 12:19 PM
you just need a saddle that has banana shaped panels rather than the wide weight bearing panels.

they are called banana or upswept.

I had to make the change when I bought my current horse.
there are many saddles that are made this way.

Vega and Amerigo are one style.

no kidding, my horse's wither ends, and boom, there is his flank. : )

he is shaped like a rectangle standing on it's short side.
17h high and a 76/78 inch blanket.

Jan. 10, 2011, 12:38 PM
After years of buying and selling dressage saddles that had slid or slipped on my horses who have short backs and extrenely long laid back shoulders, I finally bit the bullet and got a customized Schleese Triumph with the shoulder relief panels. Crazy expensive, but it fits 3 out of my 4 horses, mom, dad, and their daughter. OF COURSE, my 4th horse, is a slightly different shape, so bought a used Lovatt and Ricketts Ellipse from England, and it works well for her. These saddles have worked great for my guys, especially my mama mare, she really couldn't canter well all these years as the saddles always sat on and blocked her shoulder. Now she's a cantering machine!

The custom saddle worked out great for me, too, I always had problems with being in a chair seat position, and fighting for my balance. Turns out I have a pretty long upper leg (femur) and regular stirrup bars were too far forward for me. Had the extended stirrup bars on the Schleese, now I don't have to fight to keep my leg right where it belongs.

I still get sick when I think of how much I have invested in two saddles, but the results are worth it.