I typed up a more detailed question but it got eaten somehow so I will try to be succinct, at the risk of being misinterpreted.
For those who know (as opposed to guessing because even I can do that)
is there much of a difference between the fit of , for example, a Passier Relevant or Antares, with the regular panels as compared to the same models with the so called 'freedom panels?' which are supposed to allow for more room around the withers.
I'm specifically interested in comments from those who are familiar with both types of panels, if possible.
I have read the descriptions so hoping to hear from people with actual experience with them and then I may have some more questions.
Saddle fitter is coming but not for a few weeks so I am doing some trials and research in the meantime.
Well, I only have experience with the freedom panels but hope this helps. They do what you'd think they would, widen the opening under the pommel. Helps the saddle sit down in front more without pinching. Does make the saddle fit wider than if it didn't have freedom panels. Worked well on two of my medium-wide backed horses, one with pretty boney whithers.
My saddler would redo regular saddles in the same manner before the freedom panels came out. He adjusted an old Niedersuss in this manner and helped it fit my horses with wider whithers.
I think the freedom panels are more for horses with wider whithers and not the super high boney kind.
Does make the saddle fit wider than if it didn't have freedom panels.
Thanks. That's exactly what I was wondering about because the test saddles do not have the freedom panels (which sound interesting to me). The issue with the horse is not so much the height of the withers (although they are high) but pressure on the sides or base of the withers part way in if you know what I mean.
No it doesn't make it fit WIDER then the regular panels. The panels are the same THICKNESS in front. It is just that they don't go as high UP as the regular panels. will it change the fit?? It would be a rare rare case IMO (based off looking at a NEW off the shelf model X with regular panel vs new off the shelf model X with freedom). Just a better fit for horses with a broad wither. If your horse has a heigh narrower wither i'd have the regular panel as it will distribute the weight over a greater bearing area
But as always the TREE would also have to be a good fit.
I just got finished having several Passier saddles on trial..some with the Freedom Panels and some without.
I tried the Relevant and the Optimum both in M tree sizes. I was really looking for a saddle that had a generous gullet width and I thought the Freedom Panels would fit the bill. The Optimum with Freedom Panels has a super wide gullet (more than 4 fingers) and the Relevant with the Freedom Panels was not even 3 fingers wide. The Relevant tree also seemed to run on the smaller side...I really loved the feel of the Relevant on my horse, but I had to pass on the saddle becasue the gullet just wasn't wide enough. The Optimum's seat was a bit too deep for me, I felt like I didn't have any freedom to move.
I own an Antares in a medium tree with the special wide gusseted panel thingies. My horse in most other brands took a MW even though he's a 15.2 TB, but the Antares fits him beautifully... in fact SO nice I had to get a new jumping saddle with the same tree! I wound up with the Precision for jumping.
heaven, passiers are so worth it!
I have ridden in both regular and gusseted Passiers, and the 'freedom panels' of two other brands (Wintec WIDE and Anky XL). So FWIW:
I love the regular Passiers.
The WIDE has a special tree above their freedom panels to ensure a narrower twist. It feels pretty much like a 'regular' saddle.
The XL felt...wierd. Like I was sitting down in a fluffy couch. I could nearly feel myself sitting suspended above the panels. I had a hard time feeling her back, and wether it was the panels or not, I could not get my leg on, it was so far away from her side. As if there was so much bulk under my thigh that my leg was held out from her side, not laying evenly along it such as in the Passiers. I could feel bulk under the back of my thigh (I'm sure it was the panel in that case). The entire feeling was disconcerting, not one of the kind of close contact I like.
The gullet appeared too wide at first, but looked to fit very nicely once it was on. I coud see how the panels were 'lower' at the front. Couldn't tell how the horse went in it honestly (she is super green and playing up..happy or just wild, who knows..didn't seem better or worse for what I coudl tell).
That's a few considerations when riding the freedom panels.. not sure if Passier has been able to overcome those kind of inherent difficulties or not, but it's something to 'feel' for.
no comment about the freedom panel - but i had a conversation with the horsie masseuse who also has saddle fitting training.... and she said that the wider gullets are not so good for the horses.... if they are too wide the saddle then rests on the top of the ribs and can create a lot of problems. of course too narrow isnt good either - then it rests on the vertebrae.
she did mentin that nowadays she sees a lot more horses with sore ribs.....
MBM- saddles rest on the ribs- this is what carries our weight. The ribs connect creating the barrel and this is what gives the horse the ability to carry the rider's weight.
BUT YES too wide is BAD. however if you have a horse with a very BEEFY wither (not talking NO wither- but them WB's WITH a wither, but the wither itself is quite broad- the freedom panel is a good fit in many cases. but not all. If the horse has a higher wither the wider gullet is NOT a good option
hhhhm... nevar - i always thought and was told that the saddle should sit on the big *muscle* that runs along the spine on either side.... the newer really wide gullets dont sit on that muslce - they sit on the actual ribs.... and thus make them sore.
and what's under htose muscles?? THE RIBS. yes the muscles are on top (just as there are muscles over the ribs on the side too). but it is actually where the ribs go OUT before going DOWN that supports the riders weight. which is why you want a larger (K panel) for very sloped backs to give enough support area.
The very wide gullets reduce the AREA that the saddle is sitting on- thus putting the same amount of weight/pressure in a SMALLER area increasing the pressure/sq inch- hence why it could cause soreness (and from talks wtih the SMS when i was there most of the experienced fitters agree that some brands have taken this to the extreme and this is the issue- and that the middle ground of WIDE enough with out TOO wide) is best. like anything TOO wide is no better then TOO narrow (gullet, tree width etc etc
Am considering buying an Optimum but wonder if the knee rolls are too big and if it is too deep. Also, are all Passier saddles created equally? I sold my Antares as it was too wide and wonder if another from another store would have been different.
you won't know until you sit in it. T he optimum is one of the deepest seats they make. PERSONALLY i prefer the relevent for ME... but the optimum is the one most of my clients prefer. Fit of course comes into play. The trees are DIFFERENT. they won't fit the same (IE a MW in a relevent won't fit the hrose the same as a MW in the optimum though the tree width might be the same- they fit is different.
My favorite was the Relevant as well...you really feel like you are centered on the horse. As Nevar pointed out, all of the trees are very different. The Relevant tree runs smaller than the other Passier trees based on all of my trials.
I'm buying an older, used PSL (The Katrin). Does that count? Yes it actually is soft and comfy, but still a shallower seat and close contact. I think my horse and I really like it.. however it needs a total reflock so it's hard to say with total confidence.