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  1. #1
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    Default Saddles for VERY short-backed horses?

    Does anyone have any suggestions on which saddles work best for very short-backed horses? I currently ride in a 17" Trilogy Verago, which I absolutely adore, but it sits too far back on one of my young horses, who is built extremely compact. Any suggestions would be appreciated.



  2. #2
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    Aug. 15, 2010
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    Some saddles can be ordered with shorter panels - Custom Saddlery calls them Pony Panels. I don't remember what Schleese calls them, but it is an option. You might check w/ Trilogy?



  3. #3
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    Oct. 21, 2003
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    Schleese's can be ordered with multiple tree sizes and lengths. The "#2" tree is shorter. Schleese then makes the panels with either gusseted or more up-swept panels. So you could look for a Schleese with a #2 tree and more up-swept panels - it is not a "pony tree" per se.

    For my Connemara pony who had an extremely short back, the only saddle that worked for her was a Stubben Genesis Special. It also has up-swept panels, and short points and half panels at the shoulder. My pony went amazingly in it.

    I have both of the above saddles and plan to keep them even though I don't have a horse anymore since I know I will most likely end up with another smaller horse.



  4. #4
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    Jun. 30, 2009
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Callaway View Post
    Does anyone have any suggestions on which saddles work best for very short-backed horses? I currently ride in a 17" Trilogy Verago, which I absolutely adore, but it sits too far back on one of my young horses, who is built extremely compact. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    If horse is young I doubt you want to order a custom saddle - suspect there are very few of these customized saddles on the used market (County will also make you one) - easiest is
    1) if horse is 3-4, just wait another year
    2) ride in a 16 or 16 1/2 as they are often on the same tree, obviously you'll still need to look for a compact panel etc, but these are generally available used & cheaper than their 17 counterpart. Look for a saddle without blocks (or remove blocks) & a more open seat to give yourself some more real estate.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Feb. 28, 2004
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    Sandgate, VT
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    Default

    Most of the UK-made saddles can be had with shorter, more upswept panels and a swept-back cantle to maximize room for the rider. Forward balance saddles like Amerigo, Prestige and Vega are also worth considering. Passier also has the Compact (or something like that) specifically designed for the shorter backs. Finally, the WOW saddles, which are totally modular, can be put together with a longer seat and shorter panels.



  6. #6
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    Jul. 25, 2007
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    Arizona
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    Default

    A person I know ended up purchasing an Amerigo that fits her super short backed horse. Will also second a Schleese Wave as an option.



  7. #7
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    Apr. 13, 2008
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    NY
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    If the horse is young it doesn't make much sense to order a custom, with work the body and muscles will change dramatically and you will be in a position in a few years where you will likely need a new saddle. I had an exceptionally short backed horse (we jokingly called him a midget, he was 15.3) who was very difficult to fit for, even with flocking. He also had some SI issues and later had injections. We went through several saddles. We finally found a Kieffer that fit him very well after flocking, and he was as compact as they come. I can do some research to see what model it is, but in general all of the Kieffers I tried on him fit very well.
    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012



  8. #8
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    My filly is just coming 3, but I can't see her frame changing that much. She is 16.1 currently (and will finish tall), but built very compactly. Does anyone have any thoughts on a Verhan Odyssey? The panels on it seem to be upswept.



  9. #9
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    Nov. 8, 2010
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    I have a 16.1 hand OTTB that I joked wanted a dressage thong rather than a dressage saddle since between his shoulders and short back there was not much space for a saddle. I tried a bunch of saddles (in a wide range of prices, by the end I was desperate), but ended up with a Hastilow Concept. I have an Albion SLK Ultima/Genesis that I love for my other horse. The Concept was everything I like about my Albion but in 3/4 size. Mine is a 17.5. I tried riding in a smaller saddle, but it was torquing my back. It was not cheap, but it is a very nice saddle and wonderfully comfortable for both of us. It can also be readjusted/reflocked as the horse changes.

    Good luck, I was so frustrated by the end.
    Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds
    fingerlakesfinesttbs.com


    1 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
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    Nov. 3, 2003
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    Michigan
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    I've got one of those models! I think we figured out that between her freakishly short back, and her huge shoulder, that we had about 15" of useable "real estate". Anyway--I have looked for months and tried a bunch of saddles (thank goodness for generous fellow boarders and trial saddles). I finally found a well used Hennig that fits both of us! It has a cutback shoulder design, swept back tree points with a 17" seat. Because she is very round, the conservative rear panels (i.e. not built up like so many are today) sit nicely on her back. It's a monoflap, Sofa model with short flaps. It's the first saddle that doesn't sit on her like a party hat and doesn't get in the way of her shoulder. Another nice thing about the Hennig's is that the tree is adjustable if you change horses or your horse changes tree sizes.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Callaway View Post
    My filly is just coming 3, but I can't see her frame changing that much. She is 16.1 currently (and will finish tall), but built very compactly.
    It would be VERY unusual for a horse's back to be "finished" at 3 rather than 6-7, read the Dr. Deb Bennett article if nothing else


    2 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
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    Oct. 15, 2007
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    the heartland
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    I ride my 14 3 Arabian mare in a 17 1/2 Trilogy Debbie with short and forward flap. The saddle was custom for her and the back panel was shortened and the front panel balanced for her I believe. Maybe Trilogy could modify your Verago?



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by alto View Post
    It would be VERY unusual for a horse's back to be "finished" at 3 rather than 6-7, read the Dr. Deb Bennett article if nothing else
    Sorry if that was what I implied--what I meant is that she is never going to be a long-backed horse. Will her muscling and withers change? Yes. As a breeder, I know that her proportions are what they are.


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  14. #14
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    Sep. 13, 2002
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    Azle, Teh-has
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    I have the vega. which is the same as the amerigo deep but vega has spring tree vs wood.

    It has upswept panels. I have to use upswept panels on my horses...i have an eye for bringing home horses who are quite short coupled. And I need an 18" seat. sucks for me!!
    but the upswept panel saddles work well on short backed horses...
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!



  15. #15
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    Sep. 13, 2002
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    I just looked up your saddle and ya, it's wicked wide in the panel area!!

    http://www.pelham-saddlery.com/Merch...20Saddle_c.jpg

    vs upswept:
    http://www.doversaddlery.com/Vega-Dr...008185X1-15654
    or the stubben: not as tight as the amerigo/vega
    http://atlantasaddlery.com/as1/wp-co...21_stubben.jpg
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!



  16. #16
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    Aug. 22, 2005
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    mid-atlantic
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    Default

    You don't mention if your horse's back is flatter or has more shape ("scoop") to it.

    If it's flatter, check out the Prestige Roma. It's a brilliant design and a great price.

    If it's scoopier, try the other Prestige models, any of the forward-seat saddles i.e. Vega, etc. as mentioned. Rooslis seem to fit almost anything if you can stand them. (I can't.) Or older Passiers, Kieffers, Stubbens, etc. from before the era of giant gusseted panels.

    I think Verhans are in the scoopier category but it's been a while since I tried one.



  17. #17
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    Jun. 30, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Callaway View Post
    Sorry if that was what I implied--what I meant is that she is never going to be a long-backed horse. Will her muscling and withers change? Yes. As a breeder, I know that her proportions are what they are.
    I also was not speaking of muscle & wither change.


    “While growth in cannon bone length stops with the fusion of both growth plates at around 1 ½ years of age, increase in cannon bone girth does not taper off until close to 5 years of age, and essentially the same can be said for the girth of any other limb element, with those bones located higher up in the body maturing later.”

    “Most of the growth plates above the distal radius in a three year old horse are unfused, including, most importantly, those of the animal’s spine. It is the spine of the horse that governs the overall coordination of the limbs and the animal’s running “style”. It is the spine, not the limbs, that the animal primarily uses to compensate for potholes, slick spots, and other irregularities in the race track [or any track]. The higher the speed and the greater the physical effort, the more important it is that the animal have all of its joints mature and in good working order. While catastrophic failures are uncommon, more subtle distal limb disease and chronic pain and dysfunction in two and three year old racehorses are commonly diagnosed and are major causes for the “wastage” of young Thoroughbreds.”

    “What people often don’t realize is that there is a “growth plate” on either end of every bone behind the skull, and in the case of some bones (like the pelvis or vertebrae, which have many “corners”) there are multiple growth plates.”

    “The lateness of vertebral “closure” is most significant for two reasons. One: in no limb are there 32 growth plates! Two: the growth plates in the limbs are (more or less) oriented perpendicular to the stress of the load passing through them, while those of the vertebral chain are oriented parallel to weight placed upon the horse’s back. Bottom line: you can sprain a horse’s back (i.e. displace the vertebral physes – see Figs. 5 and 8) a lot more easily than you can displace those located in the limbs.”
    DB's article is a rather generalized summary, if you've the time & inclination you can search out & read the scientific papers for anatomic details.

    If you're looking at ordering a saddle, most saddles can be ordered with any panel design that suits, many can be ordered with a "short tree" (though you need to be careful with major changes over the demo saddles as that can very much alter how the saddle feels for the rider, eg a long seat on a short tree feels different than the same seat on a longer tree), if you find the perfect in every other way, used saddle, ask about having the panels altered/changed out (generally this runs ~1K with wool flocked panels).
    Cardinel Saddles may be worth contacting.



  18. #18
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    Jan. 23, 2000
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    MA
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    I have the Schleese Obrigado, 18 inch, for my 15.3, shortbacked Lusitano with shoulder and leg set back. I had it made for him, and it works really well. It is clearly different than the one I had made for his half brother, a horse with a longer back and a more average placement of his shoulder. The billets are arranged differently, and the panels are different as well.



  19. #19
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    Mar. 21, 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by Callaway View Post
    Does anyone have any thoughts on a Verhan Odyssey? The panels on it seem to be upswept.
    I love my Odessey II, which is fitted for my short-backed 14h Arab. It works also on the 14.2 POA, who has just slightly more room on top. 17" seat, short flap for me.

    Most Verhan dressage saddles were custom fitted new, so there's a lot of variance. Two sizes of block, 3 or 4 flap lengths, and the tree and panels can be adjusted within a wide range. So get specifics on a particular one you're considering.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
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    Apr. 10, 2013
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    Ontario, Canada
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    Same problem with my Arab cross. Ended up with a Sommer Diplomat with 'relief panels', short points to give good shoulder clearance. It has already been adjusted twice as my horse has developed- thank goodness the tree is adjustable.



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