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Riding in a saddle that's too big?

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  • Riding in a saddle that's too big?

    I bought a used Smith Worthington Elite a few weeks ago. It was an amazing deal on ebay, and since the tree can be adjusted, I thought it was worth a shot.

    So, saddle arrives, looks it's in great shape, just needs a little TLC. I clean, ledersbalm, and head off on vacation. Today, I did the wither tracings and a short ride (they want a sweaty saddle pad) so I can send it off to have the tree adjusted.

    Well, I realize the saddle feels a bit big, and measure it. Sure enough, it's not the 17.5" it was described as - it's 19.5"!

    Now, I'm 5'6", 30" inseam. I've been riding in a 17", which is a hair tight, and most of the saddles I've ridden in that fit me well are 17.5" or 18" depending on the style/model.

    BUT... I already LOVE this saddle. Rode in it for 15 minutes and went WOW! Put me right in position, and even with a not-quite-right fit on my horse, it was very stable. And the buffalo leather is yummy!

    So, anyone ridden in a too-big saddle? Does it mess with your position, or do have any difficulties with a larger saddle fitting your horse? Should I just forget about it and find something that's a better fit?

    I can't return this, but I'm pretty sure I can sell it for at least what I paid, so I'm not overly concerned about getting my money back on it if necessary. However, I'm probably not going to be able to swing a new saddle in this model for a while - they're over $3K new.

    Thoughts and advice welcome and appreciated!

  • #2
    Wow - I'm surprised the sellers didn't realize it was a 19.5"...I find it hard to believe they could think it was just a 17.5" seat. That said - if you're content in a 17.5" or 18"...I think your position is bound to suffer from a seat that big for you, be it in your seat or your leg. If your horse is short-backed I'd also be a bit concerned on that front. A half inch might not be so bad, but two inches I'd have to wonder if it got a little less comfortable the longer you rode in it. I'd see if you could file a complaint with ebay, since the item was misrepresented. Not sure if it's been too long since the sale, though.
    Total bummer - I know the saddle shopping woes. It's even worse when you get to fall in love with it before realizing it's not going to work!
    Last edited by DWChey; Jul. 24, 2010, 09:37 PM. Reason: grammar


    • #3
      If it rode that well for you, what does it matter what size it is?
      If it fits, keep it!
      Horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
      ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


      • #4
        Can you take a picture of you in it? I think that much bigger is probably too big....
        Concordia means "Harmony" in Latin.
        Full Time Dressage Addict


        • #5
          Maybe seller was measuring from a different landmark-- from stud to cantle or from pommel to cantle?

          EDIT: oh, but if it feels great, why fight it?


          • #6
            See if you can get someone to take some brief video of you in it while you're riding. If you are balanced, and you feel good, then the "sweet spot" of the saddle is probably right for you and I wouldn't worry about it. If you notice on the video that it's putting you in a chair seat (most likely problem with a saddle that's too big), then I'd see if you can return it via Ebay - but you only have 30 days to file a claim for misrepresentation.

            I wouldn't keep it unless you really, truly love it. A saddle with a seat size that big may be a hard sell. Still, if you like it, and it was a great deal...well, it's more obvious when you are riding in a saddle that's too small for you than too big, no?
            "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

            So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."


            • #7
              If it fits you and you're comfortable, I wouldn't obsess over the number.

              That particular model has its pommel button placed very far forward and has a very backward-sloping and long cantle, so it will tend to measure "longer" than the average dressage saddle. It probably rides more like an 18.5" than a 19.5". I ditto the advice above that a saddle in that seat size will be a tough resale, and on those grounds, you may want to keep it.
              Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


              • #8
                The seller probably made an honest mistake in measuring the saddle. Western saddles are measured from the pommel to the cantle, while English saddles are measured from the "brad" to the middle of the cantle. I do not know as to how advanced you are, or if you plan on showing in that saddle, but if it is truely too big, it will make it difficult for you to do your medium/extended trots. Sit in the saddle with your legs hanging straight down. See how many fingers of your hand will fit behind you on the seat. As a rule of thumb, if you can place all four fingers there with additional rule to spare, the saddle will cause you problems as you progress. The stirrup leathers are probably hung too far forward in the tree for you as well if the saddle is too large. The good news on that one is that the tree will have room for the leathers to be corrected, though it is not cheap to make that change as the saddle must be "opened" in order to access the tree. You would only want a well-qualified saddler to do such a change.


                • #9
                  you'd be amazed how many people simply don't measure at all. I have purchased SO many saddles that were sold as one size but in reality a complete other. So many people just go on memory, what they were told the saddle is.

                  Anyhow, OP, get a photo of yourself and send it to Smith Worthington too and ask their advice. They do fit people too.

                  I have found myself uncomfortable in saddles that were way too large for me (alas, its been a while since I've had that problem ). I find I side around a bit or will find myself "scooting" trying to stay in the sweet spot.

                  But, as was mentioned, it really depends on the individual horse, rider and saddle. If you felt comfortable and happy, then it doesn't matter if its a 16 or a 19, it works for you.

                  And, they make pads for people too. Our horses don't get all the lovely sheepskin or memory foam!
                  Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks all! I got photos of the saddle on my horse yesterday and sent them off to Smith Worthington to see if they thought it would work size-wise. I'll have someone take a few of me today and do the same thing.

                    Yeah, I couldn't believe the 2" difference. Yikes! I'll check w/ebay, but I may already be over the 30 days.

                    angel - there's probably a good 6-7 fingers behind me. I'm going to ride in it again today, but I have a feeling that you're right and what worked at a walk/trot for a short test ride isn't going to work for more.


                    Thanks for everyone's advice!