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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 29, 2007
    Posts
    478

    Default Western saddle reco'd for a dressage rider?

    I would like to get one to trail ride in and use for ponying the young horses I raise. I am also in an area where there are some good western horsemen I'd like to learn from.

    OK - I don't know anything about western saddles. I know like "english" they are different for reigning, trail-riding, ranch work etc. I am hoping someone on here is somewhat expert and can suggest one that would give me good balance, and have my leg a bit under my hip (lots i"ve seen put the leg in front and you sit on your pockets) Essentially, I want ti to feel as close to a dressage saddle as I can find. I also have a big, strong but high-withered horse. So suggestions in that area also welcome.

    Dressage purists, please don't banish me from the kingdom.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 29, 2008
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    2,223

    Default

    Western saddles come in 2 tree sizes, semi and full QH bars. The semi QH trees are made for a bit narrower, higher wither horse, while the FQH trees tend to fit the no-wither, bulldog style QH, or ultra-wide WB. My show saddle is by Champion Turf and I love it, and am lusting after a Blue Ribbon Custom. Crates also makes nice saddles, as are the older Circle Y. Look used, a well made western saddle is a good investment, and tends to last longer than some of the newer ones. You will probably want to look more for a trail or show type saddle, a cutting or reining saddle may put you too far back on your pockets. For seat size, you usually subtract 1 or 2 inches from your english seat size- I ride in a 16 1/2" close contact and 17" dressage, and my western saddles are 15" and 15 1/2". PM me if you have any other questions.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 16, 2003
    Location
    Wet and Windy Washington
    Posts
    3,811

    Default

    You may want to also look into endurance saddles (many of which are like western) as they don't have horns which I personally can't stand.
    I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2005
    Location
    Va
    Posts
    3,924

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    I wanted a deeper seated saddle for trail riding my TB mare. I ended up getting a western style endurance saddle. I ended up getting one from Crest Ridge Saddlery as they would make a saddle to fit my mare if they had nothing in stock. I took some measurements and sent them some pictures and the saddle I got fit my mare perfectly, plus very reasonable in price. It is part synthetic(fenders and skirt with seat, pommel and cantel in leather). They have an option of with or without horn. Since I ride hunt seat and dabble in dressage, didn't really want the horn.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 3, 2002
    Location
    it's not the edge of the earth, but you can see it from here
    Posts
    12,079

    Default

    Remember that western the pads take the place of wool stuffed panels for english. So you have to get the angle of the bars right, but then if you need some lift in front, or a thicker pad, that is OK. Seasonally you'll find you need to pad differently as well if the horse gets time off, or gains weight on spring pasture etc. Really, only top notch western saddles REALLY made to fit the horse are the ones you can use with just a doubled navajo. So plan to invest in good pads too.

    My personal favorite is Crates. I would look for a Crates "performance horse tree." I schooled my stallion in my Crates for the last 6 weeks before his first ever show while waiting for his dressage saddle.

    An equitation seat has a lovely pocket that puts you into nice upright balance.

    You can't go wrong with used in a GOOD brand.

    I also like Abetta for a nice balanced seat, and the older Circle Y's

    In 99% of western saddles the first thing you want to do is slide the fenders out a little, then slide them back. Most are set too far forward for proper balance. The only ones you can't do this on are the really cheap ones that are rivetted too high, or rivetted in a small loop over the bars. In good saddles, the fenders come completely off, just like english leathers. They loop over the bars. So you can slide them back into position where it's best for you and your horse.

    There are actually many different tree sizes and types these days. The gaited or arab trees can work nicely on horses with long, sloped withers. Crates "Teneseean" line is a lovely choice for many WB types.

    I am also in an area where there are some good western horsemen I'd like to learn from.
    I would go and see what they like to ride in. And let them see the horses you're looking to fit, and ask them! The LAST thing a working western rider wants is a saddle that doesn't fit the horse and doesn't help the rider into a good position--because face it, you can't WORK if it isn't comfortable and effective!

    There was a thread not too terribly long ago on Off Course. If you search there for 'western saddle' you might find it... were some good brand names I can't really remember now.
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    44,843

    Default

    Imagine a western reiner deciding it wants to learn "English" riding and goes on looking for saddles.
    Who knows what that rider would need, before knowing what it really wants?
    That rider would be better off taking a few lessons, seeing what it likes and which kind of saddle feels better.

    I would go to those western people you want to learn from and take a few lessons in their saddles.

    Once you know what kind of western riding you may want to do, then you could buy a good used saddle that will fit your real, not imagined needs.
    You may even like one while taking lessons that may be for sale.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 23, 1999
    Location
    South Coast Plaza
    Posts
    20,497

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    I have a pimped out Crates show saddle, full QH bars. Lovely and balanced, very comfortable. Even though I got it just for trails, I must confess to geting a pimped out silver headstall and reins to go with it. And then got pimped out silver stirrups. Then drew the line at acquiring more western tack (well, after I got the curb bit), but it's jolly fun!
    EDDIE WOULD GO



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep. 12, 2004
    Posts
    1,079

    Default

    From what I've heard the Wade style saddles are really good at putting your leg under you (at least most of them). Somebody on UDDB has a McCall's Lady Wade that she is in total love with.

    If you are not in a huge hurry, you might also want to give Dave Genadek at About the Horse a call...he will build a cordura type saddle for about $1500. The trees he has are designed to really free the shoulder up, and the saddles have a balanced seat (dressage type seat w/ your feet under you).

    He said his lead time is usually 3 weeks.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 11, 2008
    Location
    Windsor SC till Aug
    Posts
    1,410

    Default

    I trail ride in a bob marshall treeless and had the stirrups set on further back. I cant hardly post in it if i wanted to, and the horn is rather high. I think i would like the endurance model a little better. But for security, it doesnt matter what that pony does, i'm sticking it. And i can ride in it all day if needed, even with my stupid feminine issues, i CANT ride in a treed western saddle any more for more than 20min without severe pain for days, but i'm totally not the norm.

    I rode western starting out, showed arabian western pleasure on the A circuit, even competed in ranch sorting, loved that! My favorite saddle was a billy royal training saddle that they dont make the same any more. I remember it having great balance and fit everything i ever sat the thing on.

    But yes, good pads are essential. When i was competing we used the Pro Choice air ride pads with a wool pad over top. I now use a Sharon Camarillo orthopedic wool pad:
    http://store.reinsman.com/products/s...n_1/1220458000

    Best pad i've ever had, love the way its cut back on the spine, so do my mares. Though i would say it would fit a barrel saddle or round skirt saddle best.

    For that matter, a barrel saddle is going to have a nice deep seat if you want the security, but the horn might kill you.

    I agree with others, go to the guys you want to take lessons with and ask them what they prefer, see if you can try out what they've got and if it works for you. Western saddle shopping is just as big a pain as dressage saddle shopping in my experience... If you are picky about getting that perfect feel and fit anyway!



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 28, 2007
    Location
    Triangle Area, NC
    Posts
    6,727

    Default

    if you normally prefer dressage i'd start by looking at barrel saddles. they will place your pelvis in a similar position, where regular trail and pleasure saddles usually are a bit flatter with a really wide twist.
    I have a big horn model 808. It has memory foam flocking for the horse, and for the rider's butt. the stirrups have lots of mobility, and the rigging possibilities are endless. I paid i think $950 for it, and on the net they can still be found even though Big Horn was eaten by another company
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  11. #11

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    That rider would be better off taking a few lessons, seeing what it likes and which kind of saddle feels better. I would go to those western people you want to learn from and take a few lessons in their saddles.
    Well said, Bluey!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb. 7, 2007
    Posts
    1,413

    Default

    The Western saddle that I found to be closest to a dressage saddle in how you sit is the Blue Ribbon equitation seat. However, they are VERY expensive compared to other brands. (They do hold their value for resale).
    You want to avoid anything marked "pleasure" or "trail" because they are made to keep your legs in front of you. Go for an equitation/horsemanship saddle, which puts your legs underneath you.

    Good luck.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar. 4, 2007
    Location
    Western Washington
    Posts
    3,037

    Default

    You may find the weight of the stirrups bothers your knees, particularly on long rides. You can train the fenders to turn, so the stirrups are more perpendicular to the horse's barrel, or you can get the Cashel EZ Knees or similar product.

    Welcome to dresstern.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2006
    Posts
    1,111

    Default

    I currently have a custom western saddle that was made for my FEI horse. He is extremely wide and short backed so it took having a custom tree.

    The stirrups are hung right under my seat (like a dressage saddle). The fenders were made shorter for my short legs. The rigging has double rings so I can hang the girth pretty much where ever is most comfortable for my horse.

    I also had a Bob's of Phoenix custom for my old horse. Again, with the features I mentioned above.

    GREAT for trail riding. Comfortable for me and for my horse.

    AND the added advantage, while my dressage saddle was being repaired (for two weeks) I ended up having to ride in my western saddle to school because nothing else fit him (except for my jumping saddle). After doing a couple half halts so he could figure out where my seat was, we did tempis, we did pirouettes, we did passage and piaffe.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2006
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO
    Posts
    793

    Default

    You usually can't go wrong with these :

    http://www.jackbrainard.com/SaddleInfo.html

    Fits me and DH (the 15 1/2 ''), my Arab , litte cow horse, big ranch horse and 16 h high withered TK. With pad tweeking, of course. Customize it, fenders can be slid back for classical seat, can't say enough about this saddle and really super prices.
    I rode in a 4 day clinic with a brand new one. Horse wasn't sore and I've never had one get sore in this saddle.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    44,843

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    Quote Originally Posted by mjhco View Post
    I currently have a custom western saddle that was made for my FEI horse. He is extremely wide and short backed so it took having a custom tree.

    The stirrups are hung right under my seat (like a dressage saddle). The fenders were made shorter for my short legs. The rigging has double rings so I can hang the girth pretty much where ever is most comfortable for my horse.

    I also had a Bob's of Phoenix custom for my old horse. Again, with the features I mentioned above.

    GREAT for trail riding. Comfortable for me and for my horse.

    AND the added advantage, while my dressage saddle was being repaired (for two weeks) I ended up having to ride in my western saddle to school because nothing else fit him (except for my jumping saddle). After doing a couple half halts so he could figure out where my seat was, we did tempis, we did pirouettes, we did passage and piaffe.
    My reining saddle is a Bob's and those saddles seem to fit most any horse you put them on, from skinny little two year olds, to fat older big, mature horses, to old, swayback ones.
    They also tend to be rather light saddles, don't weight as much as standard western saddles weigh.

    Still, each saddle, type and model is so different, as is every person's conformation, that if I was looking for a saddle in a discipline new to me, I would first ride in several different types, before buying one that may not even be close to what I may use later.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr. 19, 2004
    Location
    Williamstown, MA USA
    Posts
    1,186

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tollertwins View Post
    From what I've heard the Wade style saddles are really good at putting your leg under you (at least most of them). Somebody on UDDB has a McCall's Lady Wade that she is in total love with.

    If you are not in a huge hurry, you might also want to give Dave Genadek at About the Horse a call...he will build a cordura type saddle for about $1500. The trees he has are designed to really free the shoulder up, and the saddles have a balanced seat (dressage type seat w/ your feet under you).

    He said his lead time is usually 3 weeks.
    Second the Lady Wade. Loved mine, but it bothered my bad hip on my broad drafty mare, so I sold it. Loved where it put my leg and seat, and the communication with Boo was magical. Pricey, but well worth it. Had full QH bars.
    Form follows function, or does function follow form?

    www.clearvisionequine.com

    http://clearvisionequine.blogspot.com



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul. 6, 2005
    Posts
    1,140

    Default

    I haven't read through all the responses, so if I'm, well, redundant, sorry about that.

    I lose my landmarks in most western saddles. The two that I like are:

    1. A Billy Cook cutting saddle. The seat feels so much like my old Steubben Romanus that I have a great comfort level in it. The horn of a cutting saddle is meant to be pushed or pulled against (or grabbed, if necessary), not dallied on.

    2. A Simco model 452 or 4520 - they are 'cutter trainer' saddles. A big ol' pillow for softness & they seem to fit a lot of different horses' backs. You'd have to ride it to make sure you like it - but I do.

    But make sure you get stirrups you like - I can't get used to the ox bow stirrups that came with my Billy Cook, but like the broad flat ones that were original with my husband's Simco 452 (which is his "breaking saddle" for starting youngsters.)
    Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov. 23, 1999
    Location
    South Coast Plaza
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    20,497

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    This is the one I got. Pic is a bit dark, but just love this Crates saddle.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    EDDIE WOULD GO



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct. 21, 2003
    Posts
    8,701

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    Western Saddles come in more than just 2 trees!

    I actually found that an Arabian tree fits TBs and Warmbloods much better than the QH trees. They have wider bars to accomodate the wide shoulders, but a narrower gullet to accommodate higher whithers. They also have a much shorter tree than the QH trees, so they are better for a horse with a shorter back.

    I tried about a dozen western saddles for my little Hanoverian mare, and had lost hope (thinking I would have to go custom). Thank Goodness someone had a Circle Y Sahara trail saddle at my barn that I could try, it fits like it were custom made for her. Another person at the barn sold me theirs. It has an equitation seat and it
    s wonderful to ride in.

    IMO you should really try an Arab saddle if you have any trouble with the QH or semi-QH trees.



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