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Age to get a custom saddle

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  • Age to get a custom saddle

    Do you wait until your young horse is a certain age before investing in a custom saddle, and if so, at what age do you find is the best? I don't want to buy one when she is under going signficant changes that would make her outgrow the saddle to the point that a new saddle would be needed rather than just refitting.
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

  • #2
    My horse was 7 and only a few months off the race track when I got a new saddle. It is not custom made, but was restuffed by the saddler to fit him. For me, it was a matter of comfort for us both, so I didn't really consider the fact that he may need a new saddle altogether. Also, although he came with "racing muscles" and is now growing "dressage muscles," he wasn't totally out of condition with no top line either.

    Have you had a saddle fitter out to look at her? Was that a professional opinion that she would outgrow to the point of needing a different tree?

    Aren't some saddles more adjustable than others?
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    • #3
      My mare is rising 6 and I just ordered one since she'd outgrown both of mine. I'd been hoping to wait another year, but the shape of her back and my freakishly long legs, there wasn't anything that worked for her. We event, so I ordered a jump saddle that's comfy on the flat as well... will get her a dressage saddle down the line. My bank account can't cope with two customs in one year!

      FWIW, her dad stands locally, and the fitter has done saddles for a number of his babies... apparently her back has taken n the shape of some of her older siblings, so fingers crossed it stays that way!
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      • #4
        sadly whenever you get one, you will likely one day need another

        If your youngster really moves up the levels, their body will keep changing. Sometimes you can get luck and the same tree will work and flocking can manage the changes. Many times that is not the case.

        I have one horse whose tree narrowed from 4/5 to 7/8. when we developed his hind end and the over development of his shoulders lessened. Then he went back to a wider tree - but different shape (old saddle didn't fit) when he developed more collection @ 10 or so when his core and back muscles became more developed.

        I have had other horses (usually narrower where the changes seemed slower and less significant.)

        Good luck!

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        • #5
          My horse is an Arabx and she was started at five. She went up a tree size six months after being started; five months after that, I think we may need to go up a tree size again. I'll see if a fitter can do anything with the saddle we have, first.

          She had no topline to begin with, and it was pretty obvious then that her back was going to change drastically as she got muscling. I'm not surprised at the way things are going.

          For her, at least, I wouldn't dream of buying a truly custom saddle until she has stayed the same tree size with just fitting adjustments for at least a year. So she'll be at least 7.
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          • #6
            What breed is your horse?
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            • Original Poster

              #7
              She is a Canadian Warmblood; mostly Hanovarian bloodlines.

              She is a little oddly built right now; very deep through her chest, but still narrow. Not sure if she is going to stay narrow or not. Currently measures a medium width.

              She is coming 3 years old. My good saddle doesn't fit her as well as I like and her back is a little too flat for my wintecs. I do have access to Jaguar that i could try...not sure why I didn't think of that until now.

              Just wondering if I am better off getting a cheaper used saddle fitted for her for now and accepting it may not fit me very well, or just going ahead and getting a good one made for both of us now.

              Edited to add: I am not riding her yet, still ground work, but would like to have a saddle ready for when I do start riding.
              Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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              • #8
                I have found that their bodies can change even with the ground work. I do a good bit of ground driving, some lunging and lots of ponying before I sit on my 2/3 yolds. Even that can change her.

                Aren't the Wintecs adjustable trees? Look into that. That could solve your problem.

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                • #9
                  Being only 3, and a warmblood, I would not invest in a custom saddle for her right now, unless you're willing to spend the money in a few more years.

                  I would suggest buying something suitable with a good saddle-fitter that you can use during the "formative years" comfortably (more for her than for you...) and reflocked as needed.

                  Remember, her tree size may change between 5 and 7, at least that's been my experience. You can't do much with a tree that fit her at 3 once she matures.

                  At least that has been my experience having been a breeder, training them to full maturity.
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                  Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube

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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks Susan, I think that is more the info I am looking for; how much they change as they grow.

                    Fatorangehorse; the wintecs are adjustable width wise yes, but you can't change the shape of them length wise. My wintec rocks on her back; she is pretty flat front to back.
                    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                    • #11
                      CHT -- I've just gone through this with one of my "younger" ones, having learned this lesson from the past....

                      I sought out a saddlefitter (with a stellar reputation and does NOT sell saddles) and he pointed me to tree width the brand that might work for him.

                      I found what I wanted on Ebay, then had him back to fine-tune and reflock it on him. Worked out great. He was 5 at the time. He's now 8 and the tree width is now too small. He's gone from needing a medium to a medium-wide.

                      It was a high-end saddle, in excellent condition and served its purpose during the growing years. But at least it wasn't new, has an excellent resale value, so we can now move on to a custom for him.

                      I've had 14 youngsters -- many in retirement now -- and I learned this driil early on...
                      www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                      "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                      Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube

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                      • #12
                        We've had good luck with saddles that have adjustable trees (not just adjustable gullets like the Wintecs). My older mare has had a Schleese Wave for 7-8 years and I've had to have the tree adjusted many times because she changed so much due to training. I won't be surprised if it will need to be adjusted in the future. Another mare had a Schleese semi-custom since she was 5 (will be 12 this year) and that has worked out well for her. We recently got a Schleese Triumph for our 4 year old gelding because of our experience with the other horses.

                        I don't think Schleeses are the only saddles with adjustable trees, but can't remember the others. Maybe Henning? Perhaps someone else who knows can add to this thread.

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                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          I thought trees could only be changed a certain (limited) amount? Although that said, I could possible get a MW, narrow it to a medium, and then it would have more room to grow....

                          I sat the Jaguar I have on her back last night, and it seems to fit ok, so I will try it on her at the trot tonight and see if it stays quiet on her back. Hopefully it works well enough to at least get her started under saddle. I do hate sharing "good" saddles between horses though.

                          I am also thinking of trying a Teckna on her...when she out grows it I can get it refitted for one of my lesson horses. Need to try to sit in some at the tack store the next time I am in town! Worried the tree is to curved front to back though.
                          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                          • #14
                            And here I was thinking about my own age . I think 50 is a great year for that!

                            I wouldn't buy a custom saddle for a WB until 7 or 8. That, at least, was when my Trak. stopped growing and filling out. He outgrew three saddles on the way to that.

                            As for widening/narrowing a tree -- some saddles like Schleese or Kieffer have infinitely adjustable trees. With most saddles I've heard (from my saddle fitter) that you can adjust them 2-3 times before you impact the integrity of the tree. Plus, you have to find a shop that really knows how to do it. Not all are that accomplished and you might end up with a saddle that's not widened or narrowed evenly.

                            I'm all for buying a saddle that's slightly too large and padding it up, but with a growing horse (that may be developing withers) it will only go so far.

                            Of course, if you buy a quality saddle you can likely resell it when your horse outgrows it.
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                            • #15
                              Since I hate the saddle shopping thing I buy an adjustable saddle (in this case Verhan) when they're young and use it forever, having it adjusted for the horse as needed.

                              The Verhan is a bit pricey but worth it in the long run - less hassle buying/selling saddles, etc.
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                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                What makes a Verhan different than other Spring Tree saddles? is there something special that makes the tree more adjustable?
                                Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                                • #17
                                  important is that the gullet is a Sprenger gullet plate and that the tree is not a wooden spring tree. Adjustable does not always = adjustable. Just changing the flocking or the angle of the gullet does not accommodate the growth of the horse - you have to be able to change the shape/width and angle of the gullet, and be able to adjust the flocking. Also note that as the horse grows, his saddle support area may actually become smaller so that you will need a shorter panel as well.

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                                  • #18
                                    I have one with a very flat back too. Two actually. One is 3, the other is almost 5. They are not related in any way, just happen to both be very flat in the back.

                                    I've found that foam panels tend to work better on this type of horse, as the wool will tend to shift to the middle of the saddle. The other option would be to have the middle of the panel, right under the seat, quilted like in the Barnsby Luxus. That will minimize shifting of the flocking. You can always remove the quilting stitch if she becomes a bit more curvy.

                                    The truly flat ones can be a pain to fit. My two at least for now can use the same saddle, even though the younger one is wider and with less withers. Of course the young one is only being ridden very occasionally. She's only got 4 or 5 short rides. She's naturally round and muscular, so she probably won't change as much as the older one has, aside from hopefully developing some semblance of withers.

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by 3s View Post
                                      Also note that as the horse grows, his saddle support area may actually become smaller so that you will need a shorter panel as well.
                                      can you explain this to me? In what way/how would the saddle support area get smaller?
                                      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                                      • #20
                                        Is there a reason you NEED a custom saddle? There is so much variety available in trees now. In addition, horses' bodies are subject to great change, even on a seasonal basis. It seems to me that fitting a horse with the tree on any particular day just gives you a snapshot of his body shape and then when it changes, which it will, you are screwed.
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