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Very confused - 4 billets?

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  • Very confused - 4 billets?

    Because I'm a tack addict, and I needed a new saddle anyway to pursue our dressage aspirations (okay, that's the excuse...really...I saw a great deal that looked like it would fit me and the pony and bought it) I purchased a dressage saddle and had it shipped from the UK. My FIRST instinct is - OMG, I love this saddle - it's rich, leathery and just balanced beautifully. I inspect the billets, hoping that they were the short billets so that I didn't have to use my dressage girth (that I am not fond of) and find...4 billets. 3 in the standard location that I am accustomed to with forward seat saddles, and a 4th located in the front of that.

    What is that billet for? I've asked the seller, but I'm just too darned curious to wait for her response and figured maybe someone here would know?

  • #2
    i've seen a 4th billet attached to the top flap of the saddle like a little mini "belt" that attaches under the horse to keep the flaps from riding up... but it's be years since i've seen one like that
    chaque pas est fait ensemble


    • #3
      It's called a "point billet", and it is attached to the point of the saddle tree itself (one on each side, up in front). It allows the rider to put the girth more forward where the saddle fits differently for certain horses. More versatile when it comes to changing horses, or having the horse you are training change because of your training.


      • Original Poster

        Thank you! It is indeed a point billet, and I'm very interested in learning how to fit with it (off to read some additional resources) - I wasn't sure what it was called so had trouble figuring out what to search for!

        I tried the saddle on the pony, and it sat level (cantle slightly higher, but only by about 2"), however, it was extremely high off of the withers (at least 4 fingers). The seat itself was level.

        No rocking, or tilting or any of the other cardinal sins of saddle fit. It may just be the way this saddle is built, but I do admit that I'm confused by its fit.

        Pony is very mutton withered, but I suspect that a wider tree would sit too low on him. He has no muscle as he has sat idle in a pasture for about a year, and before that was a hunter pony, so of course his back may well change. If the tree was too narrow, I'd expect the front to pop up, too wide, the back to pop up and the pommel to be too low, but neither of those appear to be the case, it just looks like there's a LOT of clearance through the gullet the whole way back - is this normal?


        • #5

          saddle name/model? what is the panel shape/stuffing? is saddle basically unridden (or panels newly stuffed)?

          was the saddle girthed when you were looking at it? also if it's air-panelled, you cannot judge fit without rider weight.

          With the saddle girthed & pony standing square with head lowered (easier if you have an assistant), & you're standing at the tail view, how much contact do you see between panels ~ pony back?

          (of course I probably should've searched some of your past posts before asking all the basic questions )


          • #6
            it just looks like there's a LOT of clearance through the gullet the whole way back - is this normal?
            This depends a great deal on the Maker of the Saddle

            Compare a Kieffer to a Neidersuss or whatever and you will see very different shaping to the tree, pommel, gulllet ... the Neidersuss is known for a wide gullet and that's actually really nice ... it looks really clunky when sitting in it compared to the Kieffer, but it rides great. Kieffer still has a huge amount of clearance through the gullet, slightly narrower, but not a noticable difference in ride or fit. They both fit me and my horse ... a VERY round backed Welsh Cob ... but he is not completely mutton-withered, only almost


            • #7
              echo everything BaroquePony has said.

              I once had UK made dressage saddle that had 5 short billets. There were the standard 3, the optional point billet and the extra optional 5th billet in the very rear, to keep it from sliding around on really round ponies.

              I currently have a UK made dressage saddle that has 4 LONG billets, again for girthing options. Its a little funny looking but I adore the saddle.
              Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


              • Original Poster

                Ah ha!

                It is an Ideal Podhajsky dressage with Flair, which is an air-panelled saddle. The panels are quite floofy (or air-filled).

                The panels lie across his back and are flat, they just look really poofy so the saddle stands really tall.

                It looks like this http://www.buttonssaddlery.com/detail.asp?id=1871 but in Black (it's the same model). The gal that had it had the Flair added by Martin Wilkerson saddlery.

                He seemed to have a lot of freedom when led around with it girthed (I'll have to get an assistant, unfortunately I'm typically on my own!) and didn't grouse about it at all, so I'm hoping that it was a good fit...I'll have to judge once I'm in the tack. It just seems so terribly tall compared to my close contact saddles...but that's most likely just because it's what I'm used to!

                I'll try to get pictures of him tacked up...we're going slowly because he hasn't been ridden in a year, so we started just by saddling again.


                • Original Poster

                  I once had UK made dressage saddle that had 5 short billets. There were the standard 3, the optional point billet and the extra optional 5th billet in the very rear, to keep it from sliding around on really round ponies.
                  This also has a strap in the back which she said could be used with a balance strap - I'm assuming that is similar to your 5th billet?


                  • #10
                    Depending on the horse's conformation the billets as you mention them are for positioning the saddle in it's best place on the horse. Some saddles will ride up on the horse's neck. Not a fun thing to have happen when you are riding.
                    The point billet pulls the front of the saddle down and keeps it from creeping up on the horse's shoulder blades and up his neck.
                    A larger horse with a longer body might need the saddle position a bit back. Hence the billets are there to girth up a little bit behind where the other horse might have needed it.
                    Many saddles that are Asian imports have the billets hung in the middle of the saddle and not right behind the tree points. I have had to add new billets in front of the existing ones or have had to take the original billets off and move them up to the front so the saddle will ride properly. (And not ride up on the horse's neck).
                    I had a Stubben Sidesaddle come in for reflocking that had 5 billets on each side. And a point billet as well on each side.
                    Sounds like you got a nice saddle though.