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Saddle Fitting Question

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  • Saddle Fitting Question

    <sniffle> my beloved Rembrandt does not see to fit the young horse. <sniffle>

    I guess that means I have to start looking. Here's my question: Anyone have a tried and true method to discover what size they are looking for? Rembrandt is a M tree, but some other brands seem to be advertised as a cm#... I'm just trying to remember how to measure for that number on the horse.

    ETA: an example is there's a saddle on ebay (good brand) that is a 30cm... how do measure to find out if that might fit, or what size I need?

    Last time I saddle shopped (10 years ago) I just grabbed a few from the tack store (knew the owners) and tried and returned until I found one that fit just right. Now my budget will be used, so that is not an option... I'm probably looking at ebay.
    Last edited by seeuatx; May. 23, 2011, 01:10 PM.

  • #2
    FWIW, I am saddle shopping, too, and found that one mfgr's 30cm does not equal another's. Each mfgr measures width in cm at different points on the gullet. I was advised to try them all...


    • #3
      The "30 cm" measurement is done internally on the tree of the saddle - contact individual manufacturers to discuss how they are specficially performing that measurement & how it converts to a narrow-medium-wide etc scale (of course different countries tend to have slightly different N-M-W scales so it's always only an estimate).

      For example, a 30cm Prestige tree is "narrow"; a 30 cm Stubben tree is "medium to medium-wide" (IME has varied a bit over the years); Prestige tree can be safely altered ~ 1.5 cm in each direction BUT must be done using proper equipment ($$$ so look to VTO etc for an excellent price on this adjustment - I believe they still offer this as a lifetime free service on Prestige saddles bought through their shop).
      Most trees lose their warranty if adjusted (ie widening/narrowing can weaken or crack the tree) by anyone not recognised by the saddle manufacturer.

      Then tree width is only one measurement, you also need to consider the shape of your horse's back - does he need a more curved tree (lots out there) or a flatter/straighter tree (fewer): shoulders: narrow vs wide, short vs long; wither clearance?; length of back before you are past that last rib (often a shorter tree ie smaller seat size is needed for young horses - compared to what they will be able to fit when their back matures (6-7 yrs is often quoted)).

      I originally thought to go Ebay when purchasing a saddle for FP (then 3 1/2) BUT every saddle we tried in the local shops did NOT FIT AT ALL rider fit was also an issue
      Did a very comprehensive wither-back tracing & shop owner suggested 2 trees that might fit: neither did (this was the knowledgeable interested shop owner, most had minimal interest though willing to send out saddles on trial with appropriate CC slip).
      Finally gave up & contacted custom saddle reps & ended up with a very economic County that is a wonderful fit for FP & decent for the rider.

      When you have a difficult to fit horse, using the online shops that offer saddle fitting & trials is a much more efficient route to finding that saddle than Ebay which often have a No Return Policy & you will need to resell saddle yourself ...

      Any possibility the Rembrandt can be adjusted (or will fit as young horse grows)?

      If you are in the US there are several used saddle/clearance saddle shops that offer excellent online fitting & very reasonable shipping fees for trials (often 2 saddles can ship as cheaply as 1) BUT return shipping expect to pay "regular rates".


      • #4
        If you can post pictures of the horse, and even the Rembrandt sitting on him, from the side, a 3/4 front view and the rear, clearly showing all of the saddle, shoulders, and barrel of the horse, as appropriate for the angle of the picture, that would help.

        Just knowing the Rembrandt "doesn't fit" doesn't help Too wide? Too narrow? Too curvy or flat? Too angled or not angled enough?

        If you want to really narrow things down to start, www.trumbullmtn.com has a wither tracing page, to be sent to them, to start getting some idea of the shape.
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • #5
          I just want to mention that there is never 1 brand of saddle that will fit every type of horse, and rider conformation is equally important to take into account when saddle shopping.

          While I do think that saddle fitters can be quite knowledgable, I've seen far too many people talked into saddles that don't really fit because the saddle fitter repped this brand or that brand and convinced them that it fit because they wanted to make a sale.

          Some brands just won't fit your horse, regardless of model. If you can find a fitter who reps several brands or that does complete custom, you are better in that sense.

          Also, people will try to convince you to get what they have (OMG, I LOVE my so-n-so, you should get one too!) This just drives me nuts! LOL If I am 5'2 and 150lbs and you are 5'10 and 110lbs, we will NOT ride in the same saddle. So make sure you ride in several different saddles to see which one fits YOU best. A single degree of balance can make a WORLD of difference in your performace (and your horses'!) If a saddle tips you forward off your seat bones and you constantly fighting to sit up, you are likely to have difficulties sitting the trot or even asking your horse to use his back properly.

          ETA: As much as I can appreciate the budget, I can say that buying off Ebay will probably be a disaestor unless you can try the EXACT model somewhere else first. Many people sit in 20 or more saddles before finding one that fits both them and their horse correctly....

          Make sure you can return it....
          Concordia means "Harmony" in Latin.
          Full Time Dressage Addict


          • #6
            take a wither tracing and transfer it to foam board (that stuff used in kid's science projects) then when you go to the tack store, you have your horse's withers with you
            chaque pas est fait ensemble


            • Original Poster

              Ahhh too many choices

              I wasn't really planning on the tree size of X cm for every saddle to fit correctly anymore than I do with one that says Medium tree. I had just hoped to have a starting place of 30 (or whatever size) seems the right width now lets go from there sort of thing.

              I sat ALL of the dressage saddles on her yesterday (with permission) and NONE seemed to fit right except an old County Competitor that is not for sale at all. That was a ton of brands (Passier, M.Toulouse, several different County's, an Excellent, a Schleese, and a Courbette) and everything was either too wide or narrow, or the gullet was too wide or narrow, or the panels were too shapely. I had really just hoped for a starting place, but I think my horse is Goldilocks... or maybe the Princess and the pea.

              I can't really explain WHY I think the Rembrandt doesn't fit... she just won't come through as much with it than if I am using my Pessoa close contact and I am ending up with sweat free spots after the ride. The Rembrandt appears to sit balanced with the cantle slightly higher and the middle the deepest, has plenty of wither clearance (good old Pony Club 2 fingers), a clear channel that I can see daylight through, seems to sit straight and clear of the spine, and I don't feel any gaps with pressure with my hand so I can't figure out why or where it doesn't fit.

              A friend thinks I may have had it placed a smidge too forward as mare has a much larger shoulder than I am used to. I'll try to move it back a hair tomorrow and see how it goes, but will try to get some pictures then if I can. Also, I plan on calling the saddle fitting guy to see if he might be able to take a look and possibly re-flock/ adjust if needed... I am pleased to find out that Rembrandts are (if I read right) wool flocked. At least there is that.
              Last edited by seeuatx; May. 24, 2011, 09:38 PM. Reason: typo


              • #8
                an old County Competitor

                Thats's FP's magic saddle.

                the Rembrandt doesn't fit... she just won't come through as much with it than if I am using my Pessoa close contact
                Have someone videotape you riding in both saddles.
                Go through the Schleese 9 Point Checklist - I suspect #6 & #8 are often overlooked.
                Remember to check for bridging & wither clearance while in motion as well - the video will often clarify saddle movement.

                I think most Rembrandts were wool flocked, though I've also seen flair panels.


                • #9
                  This is great advice for taking wither tracings.


                  A lot of used saddle dealers will let you have a trial.
                  2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

                  A helmet saved my life.


                  • Original Poster

                    Well, I was able to get some pictures of the saddle in question today, but no handler for the photo shoot, so please forgive the Xtie pictures. I also did as my friend suggested and moved it a tiny bit back, which actually did seem to make a difference. I also took out the gel pad I had been using and rode with the thinnest pad I had. But I still felt like I was getting more resistance in this saddle than the close contact.

                    The culprit- http://i150.photobucket.com/albums/s...ddlefit001.jpg A 5yo (almost 6) 3/4 TB 1/4 Trk mare that has really been changing shape since I began riding her in Dec. She was very green and had no concept of using herself, so it's been slow going.

                    The saddle in question- http://i150.photobucket.com/albums/s...ddlefit002.jpg

                    Wither clearance 3 fingers on top, 2ish on the sides- http://i150.photobucket.com/albums/s...ddlefit007.jpg

                    Gullet from behind- http://i150.photobucket.com/albums/s...ddlefit004.jpg

                    It all looks like it should fit. Frankly it looks like it fits better than it did my TB gelding who LOVED that saddle (should have seen him in other ones) so I am at a loss when I dismount and find these...

                    Post ride saddle marks, though you can't really see them for the dapples that come out when she sweats. You can sort of make them out from about 2 inches back to halfway - http://s150.photobucket.com/albums/s...ddlefit008.jpg

                    Sigh. I'm going to try calling the saddle fitter and see if he thinks a readjustment or reflocking might help. In the meantime the person who owns the old County that fits has very graciously allowed me to use that barring conflicts in ride time.


                    • #11
                      try putting a thin shim in the rear. the saddle is sitting just a bit cantle low. other than that it does look pretty good. would need shoulder views rt and lt to confirm. I would trytaking a thin towel, like a hand towel, folding it, and putting it under the rear half of your saddle and try riding like that a couple of times.


                      • #12
                        Watch this video which clearly marks the range of shoulder movement.


                        • #13
                          It was definitely too far forward, and shimming is the wrong thing to do.

                          I'd say it needed to move back at least another inch.
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                          • Original Poster

                            I totally knew I was forgetting something... I must have downloaded the wrong back picture. I took the "where I was placing the saddle" which is too forward (good to know) and then moved it back about 1/2 an inch and took another. I think I deleted that one but will try to retake it tonight.

                            No worries on the shimming... I've never had that work, so I won't even go there.


                            • #15
                              Shimming can work, but it has to be the right situation

                              Some horses are built such that the back, in the location where the back of the saddle sits, is too low, and unless you put a huge amount of stuffing in the rear of the panel, which generally isn't going to happen unless it's a custom make, you may very well have to shim the back to make the saddle sit level. That's about the only rear-shimming scenario I can think of that's valid.

                              All other pommel high/cantle low situations are from a bad fit or improper placement.
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                              • #16
                                If you can, try out any different saddle even if you think it's not the right size. My guy is a definite medium in his dressage saddle (and only 15.2), but I tried a Stubben Siegfried in a 32 cm on him and it fit perfect. So, you just never know.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by seeuatx View Post
                                  I totally knew I was forgetting something... I must have downloaded the wrong back picture. I took the "where I was placing the saddle" which is too forward (good to know) and then moved it back about 1/2 an inch and took another.
                                  Please watch the vet video (it's ~2minutes) - that saddle is not just half an inch too forward!


                                  • #18
                                    I admit I haven't looked at the pix or the video (not on dial-up!) but since you seem pretty sure the saddle fits, my question is -- when was it last reflocked to fit this horse? No horse is symmetrical and it could be that his back has changed just enough in places to be causing dry spots and a general feeling of NQR. IMO, it would be worth it to have that checked out first, before you start a frustrating and expensive saddle hunt!

                                    No, saddle makers don't use the same measurements. A #4 County (wide tree) is too narrow for my TB, but a Wide Baines fits him fine, as does a Wide Silhouette.
                                    Last edited by Alex and Bodie's Mom; May. 26, 2011, 02:37 PM. Reason: Edited to add:


                                    • #19
                                      Great video! thanks


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Originally posted by alto View Post
                                        Please watch the vet video (it's ~2minutes) - that saddle is not just half an inch too forward!
                                        I watched the video. Yes, I realize that saddle was too far forward, unfortunately the time between my ride and said video watching would not have allowed to remedy said issue. My point was a friend suggested moving it a bit back (before I even posted much less watched the video), and I did and it helped a little... maybe if I can move it back to the right spot I will be ok. No need for bolding or exclamations. I haven't even had chance to get back out to the barn and check fit with a different placement at this point.

                                        Alex and Brodies Mom- I'm not convinced this saddle does fit. Hoping, yes but definitely not convinced.

                                        Lawchick- When I tried some of the barn saddles on her one was a 32 Stubben and was definitely too wide. It practically sat on top of her withers