PDA

View Full Version : Help me find a high-end saddle for a flat back!



LBAndrew
Nov. 15, 2011, 01:27 AM
Hi all. :) I'm new (obviously, as this is my first post) but I'm having a lot of difficulty finding a new saddle for my hard to fit horse. Unfortunately, I live in an area (Greensboro, NC) with few tack shops... and the only tack shops anywhere close by only offer lower quality saddles that I'm not interested in.

My horse is a very oddly built TB that more closely resembles a WB. He has pretty pronounced withers that aren't abnormally high (not shark fin or anything), a poor topline that won't improve (so he needs spine clearance), but a WIDE, FLAT back.

I currently have a Butet and would love another frenchie but I don't know if that's a possible. The problem with the Butet is that it's too curvy front to back, and too narrow (med 4" gullet), and it bridges right behind his shoulder because the panels don't seem to be built up enough. I'm really not sure how this saddle manages to both bridge AND rock on his back. I've tried a Prestige Nona Garson Elite and an Antares that were far too curvy as well.

Now here's the kicker - I tried a friends AP Wintec 500 with a wide tree on him that fit absolutely perfectly. I refuse to downgrade from my Butet to a Wintec... but I'm starting to look at the Bates Elevation DS+... I really hate the CAIR, but hey... if it fits my horse.

Well, before I result to the Bates, are there other options out there for me?

candysgirl
Nov. 15, 2011, 02:15 AM
I have a wide, flat Arab. I ride in a Stubben Siegfried II (close contact) and an Aramis (dressage). Might be worth a shot. They're pretty inexpensive ($3-500) to pick up used on eBay if you don't mind getting one that is 10-20yo. They're also pretty easy to resell if it doesn't work. My wide 14.2h Arab wears a 32cm tree. My friend's 16h Appendix QH can do the 32cm tree, but a 31cm tree fits him better.

arabiansrock
Nov. 15, 2011, 02:17 AM
Trumbull mtn tack carries Black Country saddles and they have trees for both flat and curvy backs. They can look at wither tracings and recommend a model for you to try. Also black country saddles can be ordered with features like drop or K panel, wither gussets, deeper gussets etc to adjust the panels to fit his back better and they are really helpful people there.

Hastilow usa carries Hastilow saddles, which can also be ordered with customized panels to better fit your horse (I have a hastilow). Again, great people to work with.

shall
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:20 AM
There was one on fine used saddles and one on the used saddles site. The leather is thick and lovely. It has wide, flat panels. It is nice and straight, plus the head has what I call (made up term) shoulder pillows.

I have some of the same fitting issues. My mare is between a wide and an extra wide, fairly level and her back is shorter.

cswoodlandfairy
Nov. 15, 2011, 09:40 AM
I also have a TB that has some withers, a topline where his spine isnt protected and flat back. I just got a Stubben Roxane which has fit him wonderfully. Stubben was also great enough to custome the flocking, wool, and the panels to fit him even better. The saddle does have a deeper that usual seat but its VERY comfortable and good leather as well. Not really the cheapest thing out there, but not the most expensive!

mvp
Nov. 15, 2011, 10:49 AM
Butets and the Frenchie genus will look and feel different from those saddles evolved in England.

If you want to go in the Butet direction and don't mind spending money, you might try their FB2 (or similar?) tree. It's meant to fit the kind of back your horse has. But those trees are curved, so really feel around in the section where you know yours bridges. I also like to post, or rise up into the two point with a hand on the cantle. If the saddle rolls front to back, I think the tree is too curved.

Of course the Wintec fits! Just to mess with you. You won't have the Beval look, feel or balance in a Bates, but you can reflock those with wool if the CAIR panels are the only thing standing in your way.

I do think a Verhan would be an interesting saddle for you to try. They are around, so it might not be too hard to find one in more or less the right size that will tell you what you need to know about the fit for your horse.

Black Country saddles do have relative flat trees. They seem to be forgiving saddles. They give you a wide margin of error for fit before you hurt a horse's back. The range in trees and panels is helpful, too. Remember that these will look different from a Beval-- British wool flocked saddles do. If your ride in one of these, give it a couple of days. I like them, but they are a bit of an acquired taste.

wanderlust
Nov. 15, 2011, 11:01 AM
Butets are notorious for being "back killers." Not a saddle I'd put on any horse, to be honest. The channel is far too narrow and the shape is too curvy.

Also, remember that the majority of french saddles are semi-custom. Just because you tried one and it didn't fit doesn't mean none of their saddles will work, it just means that the particular one you tried is not the right fit for your horse.

Antares has a wider panel option for flat backs, which seems to work well, and also has various options for shaping the panels (to address issues like wither clearance and dips under the withers). They seem to fit the wide horses quite well, actually.

The other saddle that fits wide, flat-backed horses well off-the-rack, yet provides wither clearance, is the Delgrange in a wide tree.

CWD also has a panel shape that is good for flat-backed horses and provides options to ensure wither clearance.

Fancy That
Nov. 15, 2011, 12:37 PM
LBA - Welcome to COTH! Of course, we've been chatting about this on the other forum :)

But wanted to reiterate what MVP said!! She is super knowledgeable and I agree 100%.

Because that Wintec fit so well, I really think the Bates will work, and as I mentioned, you can change it to 100% wool flock, if you hate CAIR

My own mare, who fits into Wintec/Bates perfectly (and I rode her in a Bates Caprilli CC for YEARS) fits PERFECTLY in the County Innovation XTR I know have :)

So if you want to go higher-end, try the County. If you want something that will probably fit exactly like the Wintec (which fits so well) then the Bates should do it.

The County has every-so-slightly a bit more upward curve to the rear panels (from the side), compared to the Wintec/Bates. It doesn't impact fit/comfort though.

My mare is super flat-backed (and Propane-Tank Shaped)

Good luck!

Oh p.s. - what won't generally work as well for flat-backed horses are the high-end French Saddles (that H/J peeps love so much), and I also think M. Toulouse and Prestige are curvier too...


Butets and the Frenchie genus will look and feel different from those saddles evolved in England.

If you want to go in the Butet direction and don't mind spending money, you might try their FB2 (or similar?) tree. It's meant to fit the kind of back your horse has. But those trees are curved, so really feel around in the section where you know yours bridges. I also like to post, or rise up into the two point with a hand on the cantle. If the saddle rolls front to back, I think the tree is too curved.

Of course the Wintec fits! Just to mess with you. You won't have the Beval look, feel or balance in a Bates, but you can reflock those with wool if the CAIR panels are the only thing standing in your way.

I do think a Verhan would be an interesting saddle for you to try. They are around, so it might not be too hard to find one in more or less the right size that will tell you what you need to know about the fit for your horse.

Black Country saddles do have relative flat trees. They seem to be forgiving saddles. They give you a wide margin of error for fit before you hurt a horse's back. The range in trees and panels is helpful, too. Remember that these will look different from a Beval-- British wool flocked saddles do. If your ride in one of these, give it a couple of days. I like them, but they are a bit of an acquired taste.

salymandar
Nov. 15, 2011, 01:42 PM
If you really like the Butet, they do have a number of different tree shapes and widths to work with. My horse sounds similar to yours -- a moderate wither, but he needed clearance in the shoulder and a wider channel for his back. After trying on a number of different brands, I ended up with a wide tree Butet that fits him like a glove, giving him plenty of clearance in the wither, shoulder and spine. Butet has a number of different tree widths and shapes to work with.

The barn where I ride has a lot of Butets and when I was trying to figure out what would work for my horse (in addition to working with a saddle fitter), I tried a number of different Butets on to see what type of fit might work best for him. I can definitely say that the older Butets that were purchased to fit the TBs bridged horribly on the wider backed/moderate to no wither WBs and were too narrow. The newer ones came with wider channels that fit the wider warmblood back. So there is hope if you want a Butet, but you will probably want to look at newer models with wider trees and gullets.

One thing I also found is that not all wide trees have wide gullets (even in other brands).

fordtraktor
Nov. 15, 2011, 01:51 PM
What about a PJ, mvp? My TB that hated, hated, hated the Butet (got him as a "chronic bucker" due to a poorly fitting Butet) is happy as a clam in a PJ. It seems to be a good intermediate option that is French but still horse-friendly. My other horses seem to like it and they are wide QHs.

Might be worth a try, but I defer to the more knowledgeable saddle persons around here, of which there are many!

I got mine used for the price of a new Bates.

cobsize
Nov. 15, 2011, 01:55 PM
I just had a saddle fitter out and the only saddle we tried that really fit my super wide, flat backed horse was an Albion Kontact Jewell. My horse has no withers, so he is built differently than yours, but it might be something else to look into.

Trixie
Nov. 15, 2011, 02:16 PM
The Bates was OK on my horse but the Frank Baines was better. He also has a flat back. County also worked nicely on him (the one I had on trial killed my knees) and I would venture that Black Country would have also fit (as per trumbull mountain, who was spot on with the County) but I was so sold on the Baines that I wound up with that one.

It's a giant couch. I sort of thought it was ugly, but damn - it is so comfortable, even moreso than my Butet.

rugbygirl
Nov. 15, 2011, 02:37 PM
My horse is flat backed, big wither, wide/extra wide shoulders but not a super wide back.

I was going to pursue a Baines Enigma, based on advice from posters here, and I still think that would have worked really well.

The only reason I didn't send off my tracings was because a CWD fitter was booked at my barn before I could get our Baines stockist out. She SOLD me on CWD. I don't see how their saddles could possibly NOT be made to fit a horse, although I'm sure they aren't every rider's cup of tea.

I wouldn't waste my time trying to find one used though, just get the whole thing custom fit. What I really liked was that for $550 you can completely replace all of the panels if you get a new horse, but the rider end of the saddle still fits you.

Even the demo CWDs, which didn't fit my horse even close...he STILL went better than he goes in my Schleese...which is technically a much better fit for him.

LBAndrew
Nov. 15, 2011, 05:20 PM
Thanks you everyone for the suggestions! :)

I recently stumbled across a Model M Luc Childeric at a great price. It claims to be built on an "english tree" which I'm assuming means a flat tree, as it looks to be much flatter than the "french tree" models. Any ideas?

Perfect Pony
Nov. 15, 2011, 05:29 PM
Another vote for the County Innovation. If you order it in Bull leather then it is as close as a English made saddle can get to the French saddles. They fit wide/flat backs with withers better than any other saddle I have seen.

Here is one in the Bull Leather
http://www.fine-used-saddles.com/catalog.htm?Iit=1217&Ict=66

A Medium tree in the Innovation is really more like a MW-Wide

I love these saddles, unfortunately my pony outgrew hers and now needs a French style upswept panel... :(

Justice
Nov. 15, 2011, 06:27 PM
I have tried (and bought) every high end saddle out there. My favorite hands down for the horse (and it fits almost every horse imaginable) is a CWD with a pro-fit panel.

sooner
Nov. 15, 2011, 07:03 PM
You are only an hour and a half from an incredible saddle maker who can build a superior quality saddle that fits your horse perfectly. Call David Stackhouse in Pinehurst NC at 910-255-0266 and arrange for your horse to be seen.

Hampton Bay
Nov. 15, 2011, 07:21 PM
Avoid Bates. The trees tend to crack, and good frickin luck getting them to care about it. It took a year, and they returned mine with the panels attached significantly off-center. I had to have it fixed on my own.

Lauriche is very high-end and tends to fit the flat backs well. I have an Arab who has the flattest back ever (front to back flat), and this is about the only thing that works for him. You can find them on Ebay UK for very little, and if it doesn't work, you can make back what you paid selling it here. I got mine for $800, but the ones of the same model and condition go for $1500 here. It's a dressage saddle, but they do have jumping saddles too. Search Lauriche, but also search Andy Foster and JP Giacomini. Andy Foster made saddles under several brands.

Renn/aissance
Nov. 15, 2011, 07:39 PM
You might like a CWD. At least in the model my sister has, the tree is much less curvy than a French model. If it fit my horse I would steal it; I love their balance.

Ray
Nov. 15, 2011, 08:05 PM
I would call Tad Coffin. the TC2 has an all new design and a deeper seat than the original. my mare is wide and flat and has always gone well in a Tad Coffin. he will work with you to make the saddle to fit your horse.

catosis
Nov. 15, 2011, 08:25 PM
Have you spoken with Lynn, the owner of the Horse and Rider? I am sure she or Nicole would be more than happy to help you find a saddle for your horse, even if you have to order it. If you are bound and determined not to go to a local tack shop, then head over to M&M Tack in Raleigh... They usually have a very good selection of quality stuff.

LBAndrew
Nov. 15, 2011, 09:56 PM
Have you spoken with Lynn, the owner of the Horse and Rider? I am sure she or Nicole would be more than happy to help you find a saddle for your horse, even if you have to order it. If you are bound and determined not to go to a local tack shop, then head over to M&M Tack in Raleigh... They usually have a very good selection of quality stuff.

I have spoken with Lynn at H&R actually, and even consigned my Butet there (it's on the website).... but unfortunately, she really has such a limited supply of saddles and my budget right now is about $2300 (which I should have mentioned, oops!). Ordering a custom or even a new saddle is not an option for me right now. :( I told Lynn my issues and she seemed pretty unsure of what to tell me... I tried the Prestige from her and that was the only saddle she had that I was interested in.

I was thinking of going to M&M, but I looked on the website and noticed they too have a pretty limited consignment section. Ugh... finding a saddle around here is so hard! I may have to take a trip all the way down to Southern Pines and check out some saddles there, as I know they have a much better selection.


So many of you are suggesting saddles that I sure wish I could afford, but like I said, I have to stick with used due to my $2300/2400 budget.

Star's Ascent
Nov. 15, 2011, 10:51 PM
My filly has a flatter but not wide back with a larger shoulder. I liked the way the Antares with the M 10 panels fit her

Fancy That
Nov. 16, 2011, 09:27 AM
LBA - I think you can definitely find any of these high-end used saddles for $2300/$2400 budget :)

My County Innovation XTR was lightly-used, only a few years old, and under that price :) (I scored!)

Star's Ascent
Nov. 16, 2011, 09:46 AM
By the way, the Beval saddle sale is currently going on. 30% off everything but Butets.

Trixie
Nov. 16, 2011, 10:03 AM
So many of you are suggesting saddles that I sure wish I could afford, but like I said, I have to stick with used due to my $2300/2400 budget.

Well, you did say high end!

I would think about sending wither tracings to Trumbull Mountain and seeing what they recommend. They tend to have some nice options for flat-backed horses and were spot on when they sent me one to try.

T-storm chick
Nov. 16, 2011, 11:03 AM
OP, I was going to say go to M & M in Raleigh also. I talked to them on the phone a while ago while saddle shopping, and they were super helpful. Don't know if their website is really their priority so they may have more in stock than what you think. They do sell Black Country new, so to me it would make sense to talk to them if you were thinking about going that route. I know Trumbull Mountain is excellent long distance, but you have a fitter and the ability to try them right next door to you!
While saddle shopping, I also started a thread about them in Off Course, and got nothing but positive replies. Hope this is helpful!:) Good luck. Saddle shopping sucks!

hollyhorse2000
Nov. 16, 2011, 11:16 AM
I second the Stackhouse suggestion, especially since you're so close. He may have some used ones to sell and that would be a good way to go. I did have him make a saddle this year for my very hard to fit flat-backed WB and I'm very pleased.

Lord Helpus
Nov. 16, 2011, 11:34 AM
The ultimate saddle is the Tad Coffin TC2. I had ridden in a friend's to test it out, waiting for mine to come and ... it finally got here last week. It is everything I had hoped for.

The tree has 9 pivot points, which allow the saddle to move in 18 different directions as the horse's back flexes. Everytime a hind leg comes forward, the tree slightly lifts on that side to accommodate it. And everytime the horse bends, so does the tree.

I can't feel it, but the horse sure can. I have 2 horses -- a huge WB and a TB who had been retired because of back problems.

The WB now lifts his spine and swings his back -- his head is lower and neck is looser. And this is noticeable in 2 rides!

But the biggie is my TB. I pulled him in out of the pasture and tacked him up. He has lost all muscling along his topline and his wither is now pronounced. I put the saddle pad that comes with the saddle on for him to protect his withers but I really didn't need it.

After one ride, I got the chiro over to adjust him. After the second ride, George was walking and trotting freely and enjoying life for the first time in several years!

So, George got clipped over the weekend and is now back on the "to be ridden list". I am in awe of this saddle. It is a miracle.

To warn you -- They cost $5000 and the wait time is about 4 months.

But looking back, it has been worth it. It gave me my George back.

(The saddle and technology (called "Smart Ride") are so new that there are no used TC2's on the market. The people who have them are not about to sell them:D)

Jackie Cochran
Nov. 16, 2011, 11:57 AM
Waxhaw Tack Exchange in Waxhaw N.C., just south of Charlotte NC has lots and lots of saddles, new and used, and Caitlin Prendergast is also a saddle fitter. My riding teacher regularly takes new horses down there so Caitlin can find the best fitting saddle.
Their phone number is 704-843-0474.

hannahpony9
Nov. 16, 2011, 05:36 PM
I suggest beval natural, flat not deep, fits every horse and pony I ride.

ThegoodLife
Nov. 16, 2011, 05:47 PM
I have an Amerigo.
I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the style, but it is more huntery/jumpery, than eventery.

My horse is shaped like a llama, and we had to go semi custom to get a decent fit.

you could try looking into semi-full custom saddles if you dont find what youre looking for?

If youre willing to spend the $$, of course.

Perfect Pony
Nov. 16, 2011, 05:58 PM
I just sold my brand-used (2010 model) County Innovation for $2400. All the saddles on the consignment websites are open to offers.

Atlas Shrugged
Nov. 16, 2011, 06:24 PM
I have been down the road you are on. I have tried all the various (gross) flat saddles . Bates, County, Hadfield Jeremy Rudd design, Dev, etc. They all hurt my narrow-ish hips eventually and fit a bit like bareback pads. I now have a Tad Coffin (newer variety) that seems to do the trick. I had 3 custom Butets, none of which fit worth a damn, a PJ, etc,. with no luck. So I stick with my Tad and fortunately have good balance and strong legs, because the saddle, while a good fit (it only comes in wide, and you use the different leather pads that come with it to properly size it), is not super helpful sometimes for the rider. If I were doing big eq or jr jumpers I would want a CWD or Antares or something that both fit the horse and helped the rider feel secure. I was trying to see what the Europeans were riding in for saddles at recent Indoors, since they are jumping wbs over big stuff, etc.

LBAndrew
Nov. 16, 2011, 07:39 PM
I've been looking at Tad Coffins and have heard a lot of positives, but the negatives I've heard are pretty bad... some say they bridge on every horse, some say they fit every horse. I wish there was one I could try without paying the $100's in shipping fees. They also seem pretty hard to come by.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions so far! :)

alto
Nov. 16, 2011, 08:47 PM
I've seen a few TC's on the CWD used saddle (http://used.cwdsellier.com/saddle/sport/jumping/) site, Fine Used Saddles (http://www.fine-used-saddles.com/)& High End Used Saddles (http://highendusedsaddles.com/); MD Tack Exchange (http://mdtackexchange.com/Hunter_Jumper.html) has also had the odd TC.


Beval has a couple of clearance saddles as well, just call & ask to speak to a saddle fit tech.

ETA forgot to mention that it's best to buy a Bates that comes stock with flocked panels (only some of the models offer this option) as any saddle warranty is voided by the change from Cair to flocked (even if done at a shop that is a trained Bates specialist).

SaddleUp158
Nov. 16, 2011, 08:56 PM
I had similar problems fitting my mare as well. I ended up with a Stubben Edelweis(sp?) that fits her nicely. Her chiro finally approved of that saddle. If the Stubben hadn't worked, I was going to try a Tad Coffin, they appear to be a less curvy saddle.

Donkerbruin
Nov. 16, 2011, 11:07 PM
I would try different Butets! They're all made a little bit differently, and it took me quite a few tries to get the one I love.

rugbygirl
Nov. 17, 2011, 11:50 AM
OP, I believe that the Baines jumping saddles are right in your price range, new.

salymandar
Nov. 17, 2011, 12:34 PM
I've been looking at Tad Coffins and have heard a lot of positives, but the negatives I've heard are pretty bad... some say they bridge on every horse, some say they fit every horse. I wish there was one I could try without paying the $100's in shipping fees. They also seem pretty hard to come by.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions so far! :)

A friend of mine just got a TC2 and her experience was similar to LH's. She has multiple horses with different back shapes, one of which is similar to your horse. Wide, wide flat back, with a moderate wither. They all are so much happier since the TC2 came, even those that didn't mind their saddle. It did take quite a while, but seems to have been worth the wait and the cost.

I personally tried an older TC on my horse. It didn't fit horribly like I have heard they can fit, but it did not fit as well as the saddle I ended up with. It did not bridge and I did not see any major fit problems. It probably would have worked on most horses; I passed because I found something that did fit perfectly. It definitely was better than some of the other saddles I tried.