Need help getting a saddle for my horse out on lease - photos
I wanted to wait to post this until I was able to get a proper wither tracing and some photos next week, but timing has made that hard. So I have some older photos and a description to get a head start on this. Feel free to skip the backstory and go straight to the fitting needs.
My horse, a 20 year old Arab, has been leased out to a little girl for over a year. They decided to end the lease because they were given a free horse. He was going to be coming home this weekend but the BO called this morning and now another girl at the same barn is starting a month trial and then may take over the lease.
When he first went to the new barn, which is 2 hours away from me, I sent him with my jump saddle, which at the time was a Wintec CC with an XW gullet. (After a year of saddle fitting my other horse, I realize that wasn't the best fit, but he never complained and I didn't know any better.)
He quite dramatically lost his topline in less than 6 weeks - he doesn't do well with change. When I visited him, he was so incredibly back sore, I immediately took the saddle and asked that they give him time off and then ride bareback until I could find another saddle. I went to a tack store with used saddles that's 2 hours from me in the opposite direction and picked up a super cheap used Wide HDR Advantage saddle. It actually fit him quite well and she's been using it since.
Last time I went down to visit him, about 3 weeks ago, I pulled out the saddle and checked the fit because coming out of winter now he is finally rounding back out. The width was still ok, and the curve to the panels front to back was good, but the angle side to side was not now that his back has come back up and broadened again. He was sore under the back of the saddle. I began looking into other saddle options, but then just a couple days later, I found out they wanted to end the lease and buy the saddle for the new horse, which was fine with me. I was just going to wait until I got him back to get him a new saddle.
However.....now he's not coming home, and I need to get him a saddle. I'm going down to officially meet this new girl and her parents, since I only know her in passing, as well as watch her ride him next weekend and I'd really like to take a saddle or two to try on him. The barn being 2 hours away makes it hard for me to get down very often. If what I take doesn't work, I'll hopefully get down again the next weekend or sometime that week with something else. In the meantime,
The girl riding him is 12 or 13, thin as a beanpole, which I am not, so this saddle is not for me. I'm thinking 16.5 or so, but I'm going to talk to the girl's mother on the phone this weekend and see if I can find out more about her build. It's one that I will resell when the lease is up. I want my horse comfortable, but I don't want to spend a fortune fitting someone else. Ideally, I'd like to spend in the range of $5-600 on a used leather saddle, but will purchase new if it's the best fit. I wish I could spend more but this was an expense we weren't planning on right now and it's just poor timing.
It's a h/j lesson barn, so a jump, cc, or ap saddle is what I'm looking for. I'm not terribly picky about color or look, though I'd prefer something more modern looking.
My horse has very little wither, is flat side to side, and a little curvy front to back. He has always measured W to XW. He is slightly croup high, though his back can come up quite a bit in movement. He is 14.3 and being an Arab, is short backed. He is not being ridden round and on the bit to build up muscle, so I don't anticipate much changing. I do check on him monthly though, so I can catch that if it does happen. He does have a Thinline that I can shim as well if necessary.
I've done the searches, seen the lists of saddles for Arabs, but my challenge is getting one in this price range, and quickly. He is the type of horse that doesn't complain about ill fitting tack, but it will affect his movement. Even when the Wintec was hurting his back horribly, they said he was really well behaved under saddle.
If I were getting a saddle for myself, I'd be looking at K&M, L&R, Albion, Schleese, BC, maybe Prestige and County. After a saddle fitting nightmare with my other horse last year, he has a BC and an Amerigo both fit to him by a fitter, so believe me, I know what quality costs. Unless someone knows of a rockin' deal though, these brands are probably out. Also, my fitter is not really local, he travels from about 4 hours away so it's a process to fill his day and get him here.
So, I was thinking maybe a better HDR, Thornhill, I don't know what else....I'm just not sure what models to look at or what's worth taking a chance on. I'd prefer taking saddles on trial, but will bite the bullet on eBay if it's really worth it. Rick's in PA is the saddle place 2 hours from me, FWIW.
Okay wait I'm a little confused, why are you buying a saddle for a girl leasing him? The girl should buy her own saddle, and you need to put it in the lease contract that it must fit the horse... You shouldn't be responsible for finding a saddle for another person that may or may not be to the other person's preferences... I've honestly never heard of someone buying a saddle specifically for another rider. I've had to ride in other's saddles when trying a horse because of fitting issues, but once the horse is leased, it's the leaser's responsibility to have a well fitting saddle that fits them as well.
Okay wait I'm a little confused, why are you buying a saddle for a girl leasing him?
Because I know how much of a difference a well fitting saddle makes and I'm not going to trust my horse's back to a 13 year old girl and parents who don't know anything about horses. My horse can teach them many things, but the trial and error of saddle fitting will not be one of them.
If they are later interested in going through the saddle fitting process for her and him, I'll work with them. This is their first lease, and a free one at that, simply because I don't have time to ride him. The kids pretty much all ride in 20+ year old Wintecs on the lesson horses. The other girl who first leased him was thrilled with the HDR.
I'm aware I don't have to be responsible for it, but I'd rather be. And anyway, it's not going to be her saddle, it's mine and I'll resell it when I don't need it anymore. I've owned this horse for 16 years, and his comfort will come before anything else.
Last edited by OreoCookie; Mar. 30, 2013 at 01:39 AM.
Reason: Added more
If you're planning to resell, I don't think I'd trust the saddle with someone that you don't know for sure will take good care of it, or even like your saddle choice. The best way I think to go about it would be if you let the girl pick the saddle brand she'd like and can afford to pay for, and then make sure you get a reputable saddle fitter to fit a saddle to him. If he's going to need a wide tree, ask them to buy a wide tree. Don't leave them responsible fore the guess and check, but don't buy a saddle for the kid to use either. I would be pretty pissed off if I was used to riding in something like a pessoa and had to now ride in a wintec because the owner wanted to buy a saddle for the horse, when I could perfectly well just get my own saddle that would fit him with the help of a saddle fitter and a trainer. Very well help them with finding the right saddle for the help, but don't buy it for them and most saddles in the 500-600 range don't have much of any resale value at all.
Any time I've leased a horse, I've always bought my own saddle to fit the horse. The horse I leased before the one I just bought had a strange back and was also hard to fit, the owner said I could either use her saddle, or since it likely wouldn't fit my long femur, I could get him a saddle fitted by a local fitter. But either way I wasn't allowed to use my old saddle and had zero problem getting a saddle fitted to her. And most trainers at a H/J barn that's reputable won't let their kids go around in Wintecs, and generally will make sure that the saddle fits the horse and the kid.
You might contact Smith Worthington - they may have something in clearance or a used demo that may fit (tree will be adjusted to your wither tracing).
Wide does limit the selection.
If horse can wear a 17, then look for that as it's just a more popular size- kid will either cope or be interested enough to add some $ to a saddle that will fit her but will still be your property.
Or if horse is likely to stay with this trainer, & leaser will usually be a child, then maybe go with a 15 - 16 or junior saddle (Beval still has a few clearance saddles in smaller sizes, also 20% discount until Mar 31 - no idea if this applies to already clearance items).
Hmm just adding my 2 cents about buying a saddle for a leasor... go for it. The owners of my current lease offered to send him with a Childeric as long as I took excellent care of it (he has a funny back, it was adjusted to fit him) and I really appreciated the sentiment. I ended up rejecting it because I fit an extra-forward/long 17.5... they offered a regular 17. Not so great. Anyways, I'm going through the hoopla of getting a saddle to fit both of us, fingers crossed we've found the perfect CWD. But she had her horse's best interest in mind, and in my opinion that's a really good thing.
Anyways, I'm getting off topic. I personally would definitely send the horse with a saddle, keeping in mind her size. My parents going through the saddle buying process the first time was a hot mess, enough said! They wanted me to buy something very cheap, old and in bad condition, that didn't really fit quite right or balance quite right. It's the saddle fitters job to sell saddles, so I guess his reasoning was that it fit 85%, that's good enough. I had to convince them to expand the budget to invest in an older Schleese in amazing condition. To me, if I owned my current boy, his comfort is too important to me to allow anything to happen to it. Plus, with a senior horse on a free lease to a young girl... you just want to set them up for success all the way and minimal opportunity for error. $5-600 is in the grand scheme of things not a massive sum of money- I'd just eat it and accept that it won't resell for much if at all, for the comfort of knowing that my horse was happy.
As for Wintecs, I honestly think that if you are looking the range of their lower priced saddles, they're worth it vs Kincade or Camelot or Silver Fox or a leather piece of cr*p that will fall apart or even another synthetic (a Wintec would be the only synthetic saddle I'd ever buy). A lot of school barns put their school horses in Wintec or waaay old Stubbens, in my experience... Pessoas retail like $2000+ so I don't think that they are the most popular school saddle. A good one will make sure they fit the horse and the horse's typical lesson kid (smaller saddles on ponies, bigger on horses), a bad one might not.
If the kid already owns a saddle, and it fits, I would double check it and give her the go ahead. If she doesn't want to ride in a lower-end saddle/wants to show/etc, I'd have to talk to her parents about them paying for the saddle that you would have the final say on. However, in this case, it sounds like she'll be happy with anything.
I do want to point out that I'm not thinking about getting a Wintec, it's just a saddle that he was ridden in before. However, many of the lesson saddles that are there ARE Wintecs. It's not a big fancy barn, it's a low key place that does some small local shows.
Also, I'm pretty sure Lovatt and Rickets make "Arabian" saddles, that are specific to the round, flat backed, and flat side-to-side horses. I think they are reasonably affordable...Kent and Masters make hoopier treed saddles, and you can probably get a synthetic one to cut down on costs.
"On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."