Comfy saddle desired for very wide haflinger and 5'4" rider
Hello, I need to get something comfy to trail ride in my wide haflinger. The flat, cob broadback synthetic has got to go, I did the splits for 2.5 hours, and it was pretty painful with limited padding. What is good, comfy, and suitable for trail riding with a few fun logs in there to jump along the way? What type of Duett has a narrow twist? If you have great advice, please email me! thanks
Definitely talk to Trumbull Mtn - Kitt is awesome!
However, as the owner of a very wide WB, I will say that if you have a broad horse, you will never get a narrow twist to fit it. It's like putting a teepee on a keg. Just doesn't mesh.
That said, I am sure you can find something that works better than what you currently have. My mare's saddle is comfy but definitely NOT what I prefer, being of the very narrow hipped build. Such is the price I pay for her though - and I wouldn't trade for anything.
Others have done a nice job explaining the fundamental geometry problem of narrow twist + ride horse...but now I'm going to be contrary and say there's more to that story. They're absolutely right that getting a super-narrow twist on top of a wide horse is probably a bridge too far, but some brands are using engineering/design features that can get you into a narrowER twist that certain other brands.
First of all, I wouldn't get your hopes up about Duett. Most of their saddles are made with fairly wide twists. Granted, some of them are better than others in the department, but it's not Duett's forte nor their design priority. The Duett saddle that I'd say has the most invitingly narrower twist is a dressage model (the Fidelio). I do agree with ChocoMare's advice to call Nancy at Duett regardless; not only will she know the brand backward and forward (and yes, that means she will know even more than the wonderful folks at Trumbull Mountain), but she also knows her competitor's brands and will be happy to tell you which saddles to compare her product to.
Based on your description, I assume you're currently riding in a Thorowgood. So we'll skip that discussion. I will also assume that if your horse is wide enough that you've got it in a Thorowgood cob broadback, you've exhausted the Wintec/Bates/Collegiate offerings because the horse is too wide and/or too U-shaped under the tree points.
If you're determined to look for something with a narrower twist, though, and I assume you're trying to stay in the sub-$1200 price range, I'd look at these instead.
1. Smith Worthington - if the narrow twist is truly your second priority after fitting the horse, these are the people I'd talk to first. They build their saddles on factory-adjustable trees, meaning the SW factory can bend this sucker open as far as you need it to go. Because of the mechanics of how their tree adjusts, it is possible for them to maintain a narrower (not narrow per se, but narrowER) twist than some other brands that are building wide saddles using very different engineering/design techniques. Smith Worthington is a well-established brand that's been fitting wide horses for ages, the quality is excellent for the price, and--best of all--their staff is very good at fitting a saddle not only to the horse, but also to the rider. Save yourself some time and CALL them and ask for Kurt. They answer emails too, but because there's so many follow-up questions needed to talk about saddles, it's often much more efficient to call. I suspect these guys will have something in their Smith Worthington Mystic lineup, or one of their sale saddles, that you'll be thrilled with. Although if you hunt around, these SW saddles can also be found on the used market for ridiculously great prices, and SW will adjust used saddles to template for less than $200 (and that includes return shipping back to you!).
2. Thornhill - Like Duett, these are Argentine-made saddles designed for folks on a budget. To be frank, some of them even appear to be built on the same trees, or with the same design elements, as Duett. But there's a critical difference: some of the Thornhill tack has a fairly narrow twist. Talk to Cordia Pearson about the Thornhill Coco, Thornhill Germania Spring, and Thornhill Berlin, all of which are $1300 or less. http://saddlefitter.com/hunt_and_jump_saddles.htm
3. If you can find a suitable Prestige saddle and pay to get it widened, that can work beautifully for the wider-load horses too. Because of the mechanics and build of the tree points in Prestige saddles, they tend to be very A-shaped when they're adjusted to narrower sizes but become more U-shaped as they are widened out. These saddles tend to retail at $2200 and up, so if you are lucky enough to find a used one in your budget, it can be a lot of saddle for the money; I've certainly seen used Prestige jump and AP saddles for $1200 and less, especially some of their cheaper or older models like the Prestige Red Fox or the Prestige Golden Star. VTO Saddlery adjusts these for about $250, and that includes consultation with Paul, the saddlery owner, who will gladly look at pictures and wither tracings to evaluate our horse's width.
4. For someone like you who is trail riding for HOURS, I can't fully and enthusiastically Tekna synthetic saddles--a brand that I often recommend for wide-load horses and budget riders. They have a lot lot lot to recommend them, but they're not the most cushy seats you've ever felt--not hard, but not luxurious--and I think the twists are on the wide side, although not as wide as the Duetts. In other words, they are a great general option for folks looking for a cheaper saddle for wide horses, but maybe not specifically for you. If you were serious about wanting to try one, The Cheshire Horse in New Hampshire sends them out on consignment. Their S Line saddles with adjustable gullets are better suited to flat-toplined horses, and their earlier A Line saddles were built on dealer-adjustable Prestige-like trees and are better suited to a moderately or very curvy topline.
Finally, I thought about throwing Passier on this list. They certainly know how to build a narrow twist, and you can often find older Passiers and have them adjusted to fit very wide tree widths (although it's better to start with a fairly wide Passier to begin with and only adjust a size or two upward). But these older Passiers also tend to have rock hard seats, and for a trail rider, that might be less than ideal. Nonetheless, there's your fifth option if you really need one.
Try a newer Stubben! I was pleasantly surprised that their XW fits my fatback mare--with room to spare! And you can get the Biomex padded seat which is super comfy. I've seen used saddles with Biomex from $1,200.
In the same boat with the wide horse BUT have LONG legs
I am in a similar situation as far as saddle fit for my horse but I have LONG legs so most/all the Duett flap lengths are probably going to be too short for me. I thought I should research all my options so I have called a few saddle fitters/tack shops. I called Classic Saddlery (Lynnda) and she told me that the Toulouse saddles are built with a hoop (u-shaped) tree which is great for wide horses. With this new information, I was also able to order/buy a saddle with a long flap AND XW tree (on a budget). It's coming next week on trial so it will be interesting to see if it fits my table top warmblood. Fingers crossed!