I currently own a lovely TB that I ride dressage and trail. My Stubben dressage saddle fits wonderfully. Due to it's short nature, cutback for high withers and banana shape. But where in the heck do I find a trail saddle for this shape? I own a Tucker plantation and have used it semi succesfully for the last year. As long as I pad correctly and only ride one day in it I don't seem to soring her but it is too long or too flat, one of the two, without padding it gets too close to her spine in the back. I plan on stepping up my trail riding at my new barn, trails galore so I need to find something else. Here is my thinking -
Australian saddle - downunderweb has a wizzard poley? that seems fairly curvy, upswept and short. However I can find no info on the length of the saddle or rock. They just offer to fit the gullet it seems.
Crest Ridge Saddlery custom made for her but even they were not sure of getting a good fit from one of their trees
OrthoFlex on the shortest skirt they make- however I have never sat in a newer one and don't have clue how it could possibly work and they have NO return policy
Trekker Treeless - I tried one treeless saddle, a BM way back, my hips and spine took a huge beating and my horse hated it too. However in researching treeless this one seems to be more supportive and has nice wither clearance, I just am not sure on weight distribution, does foam distribute weight?
A now retired endurance rider used to utilize shims because as the conditioning program proceeded the horse's body changes. She used a particular type of foam that was expensive but one doesn't require a lot.She also made her saddle pads with two pockets on each side to hold the shims.
I love my Bob Marshall, but it seems you need something with more of a spinal channel for the horse and a twist for yourself. There are treeless that offer those two things. A Freeform might be more to your liking, and maybe others will have more opinions on other kinds. You can always demo one. Most of the treeless require a pad specifically made for treeless saddles to distribute the weight.
I had good luck with a really cheap Aussie on my dippy-backed Morab mare, so an Aussie might do the trick. Some people have had great luck with Downunder. I ordered a saddle from them and sent it back because I did not like how forward it was on my horse. The reps claimed it was fine (I emailed photos). They were very good about refunding my money, so that's another option for you. There are other Aussie companies as well, but the one I am thinking of is generally pricier.
Otherwise I second the opinion to try to find a used one of the same type you have. Or find a tack shop with lots of saddles that you can try on. Maybe the link below will help a little.
I ride my boy with pretty good sized withers in a Black Forest Treeless. You must use the correct type of pad with any treeless saddle (i.e., skito, granduer, haf, etc). All have pockets for shims. I use a granduer and shim the hollows behind his withers.
Yes, weight does matter with a treeless, but only to the point of what type of pad and inserts to use. There are some good breakdowns on >120, 120-180, <180.
If you are thinking treeless, some brands are better suited for a higher withered horse than others. The Treeless Yahoo Group has TONS of information and lots of folks willing to help you out.
Cloudy is correct, you can demo some treeless saddles to see which work best for you. Action Rider Tack has a great demo program, or you can work directly with some of the saddle companies to find one that fits both your needs and your horses.
Good luck with your search, whether you go treeless or find a suitable treed saddle that works for you. Saddle shopping can be so tough!
Last edited by UlysMom; Apr. 10, 2013 at 08:57 PM.
Reason: additional info
My first recommendation would be to work with a reputable independent fitter to determine what you horse needs. But off the cuff, the Frank Baines Enduro LDR often works well for the leaner, Tb-type conformations. It has a deeper panel in front to help support the saddle over the wither, and a tree that suits the same.
Just get a good German all purpose saddle like Kieffer or Passier with a cutback pommel. You may have to have D rings put on to hold your gear, but I used to do the occasional 25-miler with those no problem.
"The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief
What kind of saddle are you looking for? I do endurance rides in my Stubben Aramis (dressage) or Roxane (jumping).
If Stubbens if your guy, why not get a different model? You can find really inexpensive older Stubbens on eBay. I pulled all of mine off eBay.
Have a look at older Stubben Siegfried's as well. As a rule they're a hard "bum" saddle for the rider, but if they fit your horse and you, add a sheepskin saddle cover for trail riding (warm in winter / cool in summer).