My horse is a saddle fitting nightmare, and to make matters worse, he is frequently changing shape right now. The problem I encounter with him is the combination of huge TB withers and big shoulders. Saddles that clear the withers typically pinch the shoulder, while saddles wide enough for the shoulder tend to sit on the withers. Any recommendations for what to try? I plan to buy used, and would like to keep the price under $1000 - I'm in college and this will be the third saddle I've bought for this horse, so I don't have the budget for something nicer. Thanks.
What brands have you tried so far that haven't worked? That might help when others pop in to offer suggestions. It would also be helpful if you could attach a link to a side photo of your horse standing square.
Crosby XL - good wither clearance, tight on the shoulder
Various Collegiate - what I have now is a Collegiate and it fit for awhile, but is now causing problems
I've tried lots of other saddles, but can't recall all of them right now. I rode in a custom Tad Coffin and a Butet that worked alright, but unfortunately those aren't in my price range.
Here's a link to some pictures that might help. They aren't the best pictures, and they were taken the day I bought him, so his shape has changed since then. But hopefully they will give you some idea.
My horse has a similar shape--he's a QH, with a sharp high wither and wiiiide shoulders. At least for the front fit, the best I've found (other than the lovely Hastilow and Antares that the saddle fitter tried, which of course fit him like a glove... a very expensive glove...) are the Collegiate convertibles... I have a Diploma with the XW gullet and it fits him well in front. The back is a little round for him, and I have to use a shimmed pad to keep that balanced, but at least he has wither clearance and it fits very nicely over his shoulders.
Of course, the Diploma doesn't work as well for me (it's really a decent saddle, but it's a little too forward for my build, and I struggle a lot with it), but at least the darn horse is comfortable...
The convertible collegiate is what I use now. It's been working, but now it's starting to pinch his shoulder. I'm afraid to put in a wider gullet because the wither clearance is barely enough as it is. But it might be worth a try.
It sounds like (from what you've listed) that you've tried all foam-paneled saddles. With the exception of the County, of course, and the panels on that one may have been packed down. You've got to fit the back and ignore the wither, and then find a way to keep the withers clear of the tree. I realize that your budget is on the smaller side, but maybe you should look for a wool-flocked saddle, preferably with wither gussets or a K panel? If that doesn't work, find something with a high pommel, fit the back, and then use a thick pad underneath to lift everything up off the withers. I have a Black Country I use on my guy with a long, high wither - the saddle sits a tad too low on him, so I use an Ecogold half-pad to lift everything up a little bit to give him the wither clearance he needs.
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I have a County profit for my TB. It awesome. I use a beval pad to keep it off his withers. While technically, its not the best fitting saddle, he is never back sore. It works for him, so it works for me. When he is on the fatter side and more muscular then I only need a mattes pad to have the saddle fit him.
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Has anyone ever tried an older Pessoa on these types? I've heard they can be a good choice for them. I have tried one, and it almost worked but not quite. I've found another one that looks like it could be worth a try.