I trialed a wide in the same saddle, and it was a wee bit wide. Actually it looked great balance wise, and my horse loved it, but I was worried about clearance over the wither/spine -- so I ordered the MW. In retrospect the wide is a better fit. I"m tempted to ask them if they would take this order back and sell me their demo wide. This saddle tree can be adjusted once or twice but you hate to do that to a new saddle.
It seems like every saddle purchase experience I have is a cautionary tale.
In the last photo I moved it well back, but then it is behind the "girth groove" I think. I'm trying to keep the billets more or less perpendicular to the ground, and if I move the saddle back the girth seems too far back.
Saddle fitting needs to be done without any pad and without girthing. Those first pictures are definitely showing a tree that is too narrow.
In the second set, the way the girth fits and is tightened is pulling the front of the saddle down too close to the withers. I am not sure what needs to be done, if anything can be done to make this saddle fit this horse. I do agree that the saddle is too close to his withers when it is girthed up.
I think I might be trying a different brand of saddle...one whose tree was shaped a little differently, though still as wide.
Do they make the same saddle in a non-monoflap version with a v-billet? That might balance out the wide a little more. With the 2 straight billets, it looks like it pulls the front down more than the back.
Or, is it possible to adjust the MW to somewhere in between the MW and the wide?
I wonder if that would buy you a happy medium.
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I was thinking too narrow but in the last picture, when it is correctly positioned behind the scapula, it looks properly balanced. The angles of the tree seem to match up nicely. I think it looks too narrow because it's up on the scapula vs being back in a good place (last picture).
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I personally would go with the wide, and have them flock it up under the tree points a bit. That way you'll have that roominess around the wither but it'll be supported properly. My main thinking for this is the wide is sitting MUCH better than the MW right now, and the horse has a lot of topline to build. So if you were to go with the MW, you'd be buying the wide, or saddle shopping again in 6 months when the horse has some muscle.
The company seems willing to send the saddle back for adjustment, but that's one less adjustment left in that saddle. I'm open to other options. The only other saddle that seems to work for me and my horse (so far) is the Hennig, and the particular combination of features I need coming up on the used market is about as likely as a no hitter.
I'll be the voice of dissent and say based on the pictures where the saddle is actually placed correctly on the back (not "jacked up onto the scapula" as another poster put it), and *once we account for the fact that it is factory new and therefore we can expect the flocking to settle a bit over the next two dozen rides*, I'd say keep this one rather than go with the wide or have it widened. Yes, it *looks* a little too narrow right now. But once the flocking settles, I suspect that will be a trick of the eye caused by flocking that hasn't settled and you'll like the final effect very much.
The wide is looks better *at the moment* but it's also pretty iffy already in its wither clearance--and once the flocking on the wide-treed one settles, you will be playing a very dangerous game with overall channel clearance, not just at the withers. And then you're back in the same predicament, facing a narrowing of the saddle back to MW.
Fitting a factory-new saddle can be a challenge because you have to account for how it'll break in. That can freak people out because, just like a brand new pair of shoes that will break in to be absolutely perfect, they can start out a *touch* tight. But after two or three days of wearing them with thin socks, all of a sudden you've got the best pair of shoes you've ever had. Ditto with saddles, although again it's a fine line between the natural break-in process and a saddle that's genuinely too narrow. And honestly, none of us could really tell you which situation you've got (tight new flocking or a genuinely too narrow saddle) without standing there and feeling under the tree points.
But like I said, if I were you and my saddle fitter felt pretty strongly that MW was the better size, I would keep this one and follow the old-fashioned breakin procedure of riding with the saddle directly on the horse's back. It'll give you a better sculpting of the wool to the horse, and it will help allay concerns that adding padding will narrow the whole operation. Once the flocking has settled, you can return to using a good ol' thin saddle pad. And on the off-chance that it doesn't break in purrrrrrfectly, THEN you can send it out for adjustment.
As for the girth grooves, don't move the saddle to match the girth groove--get yourself a girth that fixes the issue. There are plenty of anatomic girths on the market that will address this problem--although again, I would not be screwing with that for at least a dozen rides. I don't hate how your girth is sitting in this picture, and you might find it's not a problem after the break-in: https://plus.google.com/photos/10829...242?banner=pwa
My impression is that it's a tad narrow but as others have pointed out, it's hard to know how tightly the saddle is flocked and how much it will settle as it breaks in.
The other thing to consider is that your horse is young and still developing. When you trialed the wide, did your fitter think Riley would fill out more? If you buy the MW and it's snug now, if his shape changes much, that might be a problem.
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good point, Jenny. How tightly flocked is the saddle now? Some come from the factory like bricks, others like pillows.
Would be curious to know this answer too. IME Black Country tends to come pretty softly flocked, but it also tends to settle quite a bit on top of that in the first six months--but I also haven't put hands on a brand-new Black Country for about 2 years, so possibly that has changed. A lot of these Walsall brands just about COUNT on you calling the saddle fitter for a pump-up job at the six month mark.
Last edited by jn4jenny; Mar. 16, 2012 at 08:05 PM.
Supposedly they are softly flocked, plus the serge panels really allow the saddle to shape to the horse -- of course the reverse argument that is that flocking tends to shift (and some saddle fitters don't like serge panels for that reason).
The company urged me to buy a saddle to fit for now, because there is no way to predict how he'll grow. He could grow a bigger wither, to require a narrower saddle, or he could muscle up/widen, or both. If I had to guess based on his past growth, I'd say he'll widen.
When I ride in the MW, the saddle does drop to maybe 3 fingers at the gullet.
My personal opinion is that this saddle does not fit like a MW, more like a medium. His last saddle, which didn't fit, was a medium.
The thing I don't think looks right is that when you are sitting in the saddle, your legs fall ahead of you (more so on the narrower saddle). The deepest part of the seat seems far back to me, but what do I know...I just don't like struggling with keeping my legs under me. It's really hard to find something that fits both horse and rider..sigh.
Pix 51 clearly shows that the saddle's tree is too narrow. Can you see how the sweat pattern is so much darker and pronounced in the wither/shoulder area? Take a pencil when the saddle is sitting on the horse and let it roll from the pommel downward to the seat. I think you will find that the resting point is closer to the cantle than the middle.