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saddle flaps: how short is too short?

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  • saddle flaps: how short is too short?

    I have a new horse and no saddle. Given the deal I got on the horse, it is almost guaranteed that he will cost less than the saddle. I am a tiny little person (5'1", 105 lbs) and will probably fit in a 15" saddle, so as I noted before I've been looking at some youth saddles, like the Passier Young Champ and the Courbette Bernina Junior. Where I am there is a major dearth of tack shops so I have little opportunity to sit in different saddles -- I did visit Bucks County Saddlery last month while visiting family but just left kind of bewildered, especially since I didn't have a horse to fit yet and wasn't really in "shopping mode."

    I feel like I could live with a slightly too large seat size, since I've been riding in other people's saddles my whole life and they have all been too big. But I would really like to avoid overlong flap length, another reason I like the youth saddles. It looks like flaps can range from 13" to 16" on the youth saddles. 15" sounds nice as standard dressage saddle flaps come down to my ankles, but 13" flaps look weirdly short. How short is too short? I have fairly long legs for my height.
    MelanieC * Canis soloensis

  • #2
    The only way to know what is too short is to ride in them in your tall boots and see if the bottom of your tall boot catches on the flap.


    • #3
      I would measure some of the saddles you have ridden in to make sure, but as long they don't catch on your boots/chaps it's fine.

      But also check and see how the flaps are measured. Correct is from the stirrup bar, but if you're looking on Ebay lord only knows how people measure things.


      • #4
        Originally posted by joiedevie99 View Post
        The only way to know what is too short is to ride in them in your tall boots and see if the bottom of your tall boot catches on the flap.
        Do you mean the TOP of your tall boot?

        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


        • #5
          At 5'1 and 105#, you might find a 15" far too small - then again, maybe not, its a very personal thing. But, I have a friend who is 4'11", very slight at 90# and she rides a 16.5 albion and fits it beautifully.

          The flap length will depend on you length of thigh for the most part actually, and the conformation of the thigh blocks too I find. I am only 5'3", but I have a quite long inseam (nearly 32") and my thigh measures 19.5 from center of hip to tip of kneecap. Though I'm a shortie, I require long flap saddles (long breeches too). The bigger the thigh block, the longer the flap I need.

          As far as being too short, the only way to find out is to ride it. A short flap may catch your boots, or may have a wonky size/placement of the thigh block. If you have rather short thighs, then a longer flap might have a thigh block conformation that makes you want to constantly fight it.
          Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Janet View Post
            Do you mean the TOP of your tall boot?
            LOL. Yes. Mondays are always hard


            • #7
              Another factor is the shape of the horse. Slab sided would mean a shorter flap, but a longer one might look/fit better on a wider horse.
              2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

              A helmet saved my life.


              • #8

                I'm shorter than you, only 4'11" with a 27" inseam, I found that a 16" flap worked perfectly fine for me, which in many brands is considered a 'standard' flap.

                If you have the budget for a new custom saddle, many are offered in standard, long, and petite flaps. My best advice is to at least get a wither tracing for your horse and then try lots of different makes and models until you find one that fits you both. There are a few online tack stores that will look for a saddle for you based on your wither tracing. Just be prepared for lots of shipping fees back and forth.

                It took me almost a year to find a dressage saddle that fit both me and my horse, but I couldn't be happier. Good luck. You may find saddle shopping to be a lot harder than the horse shopping was!

                And congrats again on your new purchase!
                Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                Witherun Farm


                • #9
                  I am 5 ft 1 in and currently ride in an 18 in seat solely due to my overly large derriere. When I was 100 lbs, I rode in a 16 in, and by todays standards it would definitely have been considered too small. Seriously, I would suggest that you look for a 17 in seat and try for a 16 in flap. My current saddle has a 17.5 in flap because I have to share it with my son who is all leg, and a 16 in flap would be borderline too short for him. The 17.5 is doable for me, but I know I would love hte flap to be just a bit shorter.

                  two brands that I know of that you can request short flaps are black country and frank baines. Passiers are notorious for having loooong flaps (and I really would have like to get a passier). In the inexpensive saddles, teh M. Toulouse have flaps that are aobut 16 in and they are very comfy for hte rider, but are foam flocked so it must fit your horse right (didn't fit mine).

                  Good luck, did you get the horse you vetted that had questionable xrays? If so, good luck, but I bet he will be fine. My old mare supposedly had ringbone when I got her 6 years ago. She is sounder today than when I got her. go figure.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by arabiansrock View Post
                    two brands that I know of that you can request short flaps are black country and frank baines. Passiers are notorious for having loooong flaps (and I really would have like to get a passier). In the inexpensive saddles, teh M. Toulouse have flaps that are aobut 16 in and they are very comfy for hte rider, but are foam flocked so it must fit your horse right (didn't fit mine).
                    Just wanted to add, I weigh around 108, and I have the Frank Baines Elegance in a 17" seat with the standard 16" flap and its a really good fit. Excellent, well made saddle. Brand new, custom, I think you can get them for under 3K. They're pretty hard to find used in the US.
                    Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                    Witherun Farm


                    • #11
                      Depending on how much you want to spend, you might want to investigate a Trilogy Debbie McDonald. (It'll be about $3500 new, but you might be able to find a used one.) They are designed for the more petite rider, and I'll bet there's a Trilogy rep/saddle fitter that covers your area.