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Saddle Reccomendations For Wide-Shouldered Horses

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  • Saddle Reccomendations For Wide-Shouldered Horses

    I am currently languishing in saddle fitting hell, and am hoping someone can offer some advice. Let me start out by saying that I sadly do not have the cash for a custom saddle, nor am I going to be able to afford anything much over, say, $700 or $800.

    The unfittable-thus-far horse in question is my 14.3 hh, 1100 lb Quarter Horse. She's stocky, but not overly so:


    Saddles never seem to fit her shoulder area. It seems like her anatomy just can't accommodate the saddle's panels having much padding in that area. Right now I have her in an adjustable gullet Wintec (wide gullet) and while it's usable, it is still too snug in the shoulder area. The saddle seems to fit okay everywhere else.

    I don't know if these photos will help at all, but just in case...
    Here's her back:


    Here's my best attempt at trying to show her shoulder/back area:


    She doesn't look like she'd be particularly hard to fit, but she is.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for a saddle that might fit a horse built like this? I would prefer a dressage saddle but at this point, ANY English saddle that fits properly sounds good to me!

  • #2
    Oh, man, I don't have recommendation, but I can't wait to follow this thread. I am having the same problem with my horse, shoulder wise and haven't come across anyone else with the problem! Mine is not a QH, but a TB/Hanovarian cross gotta go, back later.
    Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


    • Original Poster

      Well, it's nice to know I'm not alone!


      • #4
        I'm crazy about my Thornhill Berlin. I got it in XW for my draft X and it's the first one that gives her enough room in the shoulders.

        The Duett was close, too, so worth looking at.
        Looking for horse activity in the Twin Tiers? Follow my blog at http://thetwintiershorse.blogspot.com/


        • #5
          County makes nice saddles for wide horses. Try to find one used.


          • #6

            First; have a fitter do tracing of your horse. That doesn't cost much.
            And make yourself copies in cardboard. You should get 3 forms out of your tracing. You'll be able to take those to tack shops and see what could match. You can also have a little chat with the fitter see what he/she think about what you should get...and if ever he/she would know someone who has something you could try...fitters go to a lot of places and knows about saddles (usually!)

            Second: Check for used leather saddle only. At the money you wanna spend, I don't think you can get a good new saddle...sorry but I'm quite agaisn't the 'cheap all included package deal indian leather' saddle.

            Third: Good luck!
            ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

            Originally posted by LauraKY
            I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
            HORSING mobile training app


            • Original Poster

              How is the twist on your Thornhill, Gilberts? I'm a fan of narrow, but I'm wondering if narrow twists are even possible on a xwide saddle!


              • #8
                Originally posted by jlc102482 View Post
                How is the twist on your Thornhill, Gilberts? I'm a fan of narrow, but I'm wondering if narrow twists are even possible on a xwide saddle!
                It felt a little wide under me the first couple of rides, but about 15 rides and a hunter pace later, I love it!

                It fits my mare better than the Countys that I tried and also better than the XW Duett (but many people love the Duetts and I loved riding in it -- just pinched her back behind the shoulder). It is an inexpensive saddle, which is the icing on the cake, because it definitely gives us both a great experience.
                Looking for horse activity in the Twin Tiers? Follow my blog at http://thetwintiershorse.blogspot.com/


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jlc102482 View Post
                  How is the twist on your Thornhill, Gilberts? I'm a fan of narrow, but I'm wondering if narrow twists are even possible on a xwide saddle!
                  I tried the Wintec Wide GP saddle and it fit my Friesians (XXW) but I sold it because the twist was too narrow. The gullets go from XXW to fit-your-dining-room-table wide.


                  • Original Poster

                    Spyder, how did you like the CAIR panels on your Wintec Wide? I know some people love them and some people hate them. I have them on my current Wintec and I'm not sure how I feel about them. It's hard to form an opinion on them since the saddle they're on doesn't fit right in the first place.


                    • #11
                      I too love a narrow twist.

                      When looking at your boy's pics, he reminded me of something a saddle fitter said to me about my horse - his muscle (forget the name, might be trapezius) is really far back behind the shoulder - you can see it a bit right where the flap of a hunt seat saddle would lie. Then, his trapezius ties in low onto his wither. Like mine; it makes for a bit (or a lot) of a "shark fin" wither.

                      Because of this, there is a hollow just over his scapula, and a saddle has to be built up to sit well above his wither. Yet, the panels cannot be so wide as to reach OVER this hollow, so as to accomodate the width of the lower shoulder. The panels just beneath the pommell must be built up to keep the saddle from falling onto his back/wither.

                      Then, the front of the 'flap' must come back, or, say, straight down, so as not to sit on top of his shoulder muscle, right there about where your knee might be.

                      Its tricky, and one thing I found, as my horse has these same features, is that a saddle either must not have (don't know what it is called, but part of a panel, I think) the front, banang, wing piece running along the front of the flap, which you might notice in some saddles can be really looong, and in others, really short. Either he needs that panel part to be short, and not come down over his shoulder muscles which sit so far back, or, and this might be the answer, he needs a monoflap type of saddle. These have a different sort of padding, and I haven't quite yet investigated the difference, but you have to watch that a saddle's panel does not reach forward over his shoulder muscles.

                      Also, he might not need as wide a saddle asyou are thinking. If the saddle sits back far enough to keep from pinching his long shoulder, it might not need to be wide.

                      I would suggest trying some medium saddles, but here is the key:

                      Make sure you are not putting the saddle too far forward. You might really need to put his saddle further back. I know I was putting my saddles too far forward, having come from hunter/jumper, where we rode up on the horse's shoulders, unwittingly.

                      Hope this helps. I think if you are needing such a wide saddle (as a wide or xtra wide) you are putting yoru saddle too far forward on him.

                      Look for straighter flaps.

                      Look for padding up near the pommel, which is less or not much at all, as it drops down along the front of the flap.

                      Make sure the padding is enough to keep the saddle up in front, off his wither.

                      The tree might need to be medium to accomodate his wither and shoulder. I don't know, though, a saddle fitter can tell you.

                      Talk to several different saddle fitters. Listen, and spend time re-evaluating waht they say for your self.

                      You'll figure it out soon, then you will need to find out what saddles will do what you want one to do.

                      I still don't know, yet, except to have one made, and I dont' have that kind of bucks, either.

                      Just don't automatically go for "wide". That's NOT the answer to your guy's anatomical issues with his shoulder.
                      Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


                      • #12
                        You might try a Duett...maybe in a 34cm.


                        • #13
                          Here's a link to a source for Thornhills. From what I've read, I might try a Germania Klasse. http://www.saddlefitter.com/thornhill_dressage.htm

                          I am not sure I like all that padding, however, its supposed to possibly fit a horse with tall withers?

                          I dunno.

                          I am glad someone brought up Thornhills, though, I hear people are pleased, and they sure aren't an arm and a leg.
                          Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


                          • #14
                            Maybe the Vienna II would be right. I will try to find one to try. OP - what do you think of this saddle?

                            Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


                            • Original Poster

                              AnotherRound, that was a lot of great information that I hadn't been previously aware of - thank you! I am not sure about saddle placement on my horse - it's been confusing to me. My instructor and my equine chiropractor both insist on the saddle being where I think is a bit far up there. However, when I put it where they tell me to, the billets and girth do end up being vertical and not perpendicular, and go right behind her elbow. When I put the saddle back a bit where I think it's supposed to go, the billets and girth are perpendicular and are several inches away from being vertical and from being right behind the elbow. I defer to my instructor (who is more knowledgeable than I am! ) and ride with it "way up there".

                              I don't know if this photo is of any use (no flash, weird shadow) but this is where I have been told to put the saddle. This is the saddle I'm currently using - adjustable gullet Wintec with the "wide" plate in.



                              • Original Poster

                                Originally posted by AnotherRound View Post
                                Maybe the Vienna II would be right. I will try to find one to try. OP - what do you think of this saddle?

                                Oh, MY. I wish there was a drooling smiley face icon.... I love it!


                                • #17
                                  Tracings are not hard to do yourself. I have been attempting to fit my interestingly-shaped Arab, so I did some and sent them off to various saddleries and have gotten a number of good recommendations. The website that has already been mentioned includes instructions on how to do tracings, as do a number of others (Trumbull Mountain, Pelham, etc.).


                                  The instructions vary by source (depending on what the saddler wants to see) but if you take a photo showing where you took the tracings (chalk on horse works well) and measure the distances between them you will be able to use the same set of tracings for a number of different saddlers.

                                  The only "special" piece of equipment you need is a $10 flexible curve from an artists' supply store. I used a manila file folder to do my tracings.
                                  MelanieC * Canis soloensis


                                  • #18
                                    Very practical advice, Melanie; I wondered just how to go about using tracings to sort out long distance saddle advice. Thanks.
                                    Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by jlc102482 View Post
                                      How is the twist on your Thornhill, Gilberts? I'm a fan of narrow, but I'm wondering if narrow twists are even possible on a xwide saddle!
                                      Look at a Duett Fidelio. I like a narrower twist as well, but my Friesian X has big shoulders. The fidelio fits her like a glove and doesn't feel like I'm riding a barrel. I second the comment on doing tracings though so you can find an appropriate fit.


                                      • #20
                                        I just got a used Duett Rondo to use in my riding school, which seems to consist almost entirely of "witherless wonders". I own a Wintec Wide which is ok but not great. It is wide enough but I hate the instability of the cair panels.

                                        I had tried a Duett before and it was a near miss. What I discovered on the second try is that I just hadn't been thinking wide enough. The one I bought is a 38, which seems like it should be for percherons, but actually does quite well on two pony-sized qh's and a morab. They definitely run small in seat size-- the 18" I got is more like a 17"-- so maybe that translates into tree size as well, so that a 38 is more like a 34. Whatever. If you get one to fit, they are a very decent little saddle at an extremely reasonable price. I got this very lightly used one from Trumbull Mtn. for $750.