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Saddle for big withers/ soft topline

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  • Saddle for big withers/ soft topline

    Horse is currently in a Stubben Tristan with a 32 cm tree which is ok on him for now but is JUST starting to get a little bit snug...

    Horse is a teenaged ASB gelding with an underdeveloped topine. It's filled out a LOT in the 2 months we've been doing dressage work...

    Any thoughts on a saddle that might do as a replacement?

    Definitely needs something that I can find for $1000 or less used.... I would prefer something as minimalist as possible but I am thinking I won't find what I want... I don't mind synthetic as long as it looks reasonably leatherlike... He wasn't thrilled with my friend's older Wintec Pro but I like the looks of the Thorowgood saddles since they have regular flocking AND have the changeable gullets (I ride a few different horses) and have the high wither option....
    Last edited by blairasb; May. 12, 2012, 05:24 PM. Reason: Ack! The tree size currently is 32, not 34!

  • #2
    Check out the used saddles at All English Tack in PA. Their website shows a wide variety of sizes and trees. I think they now carry Thorowgood too--I'm sure they could answer your questions or possibly may have one used to fit?? I got a Hastilow Piaffe dressage saddle there and an Ideal Jessica there, both used, and reasonably priced, and I love them both. Have had both restuffed as my horses shapes changed and built muscle through dressage, and I find both very comfortable for my horses and also for me.


    • #3
      I keep posting about this saddle... but lots of people seem to be looking for tack that fits high withers and/or low backs these days.

      The PDS Showtime is available with panels that fill in this type of low back, and are constructed in a way to keep the saddle level in a normal position. Also has an interchangable gullet.

      The only thing that doesn't match up for you is the price: $2245. It's fairly new on the market, so there aren't many used around, and the older versions also have a wider twist than what's available now.
      Patience pays.


      • #4
        You don't say how curvy the back is. My high wither, long sloping shoulder and curvy back Arabian is going well in the Fairfax monoflap. I bought it for my other horse, but am loving how well he is doing in it. Transitions are so smooth!


        • Original Poster

          His back is pretty curvy compared to the friesians I ride. I tried my friend's Schleese on him which seems to be built for a horse with a very flat topline. It was wide enough but He did NOT like it at all- was crabby about it even being on his back, didn't even girth it up.

          I am going to have a VERY hard time finding a saddle that will work for both of us, I think. I have back problems (rods through most of my back and some bad discs below that) and the excessive knee rolls/blocks and super deep seats and I do NOT get along- I find them irritating/distracting on a good day and painful on a bad day. Which is why him growing out of my Tristan makes me incredibly sad. I'm actually most comfortable in my cutback, but it doesn't do right on his back at all at this point.

          I have to stay pretty firm on my budget because the Tristan fits a friesian that I ride and show exceptionally well and is comfortable for me- cant sell it to finance a new saddle


          • #6
            My older ASB gelding has a very similar topline to your guy. I used a Passier Relevant with the freedom panels and it fit him great. It also has a very open seat with minimal knee blocks....coming from a saddleseat background, I found it very comfy. A big plus also was that the Relevant had shorter (16inch) side panels compared to the other Passier's that fit a shorter (5'5") person like me well.
            "A good horse is worth more than riches."
            - Spanish Proverb


            • #7
              I have a horse built much like this. She has a curvy topline and broad shoulders combined with a wide wither. I ride in a rembrandt dressage saddle. They have short points on the tree which gives more freedom to the shoulder and makes them fit a little more on the generous side. The nice thing is that you can usually pick them up rather cheaply. I got mine on eBay for $330 (it's brown) and the black ones go for around $500. You can get one with the adjustable tree for about $750-800. They're really well made saddles. Mine's 20+ years old and is in wonderful condition. Plus, the customer service at Classic Saddlery (who bought Rembrandt) is top notch.


              • #8
                Some PDS demo saddles on ebay through Equus Now

                Also contact Duett as they do provide a very reasonable priced saddle for those wide backs.

                Do you work with him on the lunge to develop those back & stomach muscles?


                • #9
                  Why not look at the Thorowgood T4 hi wither dressage saddle? Dover has them for about 600 new, the blocks are moveable/removeable (they are fairly large but if you want small ones you could buy the wintec small blocks and use those instead. The seat is NOT deep (regardless of how it is described), it is a very open seat with plenty of room to move. Seat is also well padded, but if you need more, go up a half size and use a sheepskin seat cover.

                  the saddles have the adjustable gullet so you can adjust hte fit as he muscles up. Yes the saddle is synthetic, but it doesn't have that nasty squeek like some do, and seriously when you are in the saddle, from 10 feet away, no one would know it was synthetic.

                  I have one that I am using on my tb, he also has a big drop from withers to back. this is the only saddle he will tolerate. IF I put anything else on him, he gets pissy until he gets "his" saddle back.

                  These really are nice saddles for hte price, they are made in england by master saddle makers, and are wool flocked so they can be adjusted by saddle fitter.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you for all the suggestions!

                    Right now I'm stalking a duett on ebay that might be worth picking up at the right price, but I'm concerned about adquate wither clearance on him. (though my friend's schleese was pretty broad and fits a relatively prominent withered horse and gave him enough clearance... so... maybe not a huge issue?)

                    I'm not finding most of the suggested brands right at this point in time in a large enough size (except new and comfortably out of budget... ;-) )but will keep an eye on it.

                    I am talking to one of the gals at Classic Saddlery about something to fit him. They have an M. Toulouse Aachen that she thinks might fit him at a good price ($850 NEW) the only thing is, it's a 17.5" seat and I'm pretty happy in my 18.5" stubben- it's a pinch big but not much...... Which with the extra depth of the seat, I'm a little nervous about eating up my budget shipping saddles that I'm pretty sure won't fit back and forth.

                    I also found a Classic Vivian in 18 Wide from a private seller... Waiting to hear if still available.

                    I was actually looking at the Thorowgood T6 possibly? I'm surprised at how leatherlike it appears. But... the traditionalist in m still balks at dropping $750 on a non-leather saddle that I haven't met in person..... But I love that it's got 3 different fits to start with and then the changeable gullets and traditional flocking...
                    I think if these other saddles that I have my eye on right now don't work out, the Thorowgood might just win out...


                    • #11
                      If you like the Stubben 18.5 do NOT drop down to a 17.5 - neither you or the horse are going anywhere (I assume) so take your time finding a saddle that will fit both of you

                      Before I'd buy anything ebay, talk to Duett about fitting your horse - spend $ on saddle fit consultations rather than shipping saddles around the country.

                      Trumbull Mtn gets awesome reviews & they rep a wide range of saddles.


                      • #12
                        Dittos on Trumbull Mtn, also Pelham Saddlery and Ricks Heritage carry lots of used saddles.

                        Look at used Prestige and Neidersuss saddles. They seem to fit curvy backs well and offer nice wide trees. They are more hoop-shaped, which many horses prefer. The adjustable tree saddles are V-shaped, I'm told. Not so good for the wide-bodies/barrel bodies.

                        Others to consider: used Albion & Passier. The cutback head of Passier works great on high withered horses and is an easy-fitting saddle.


                        • #13
                          Stubben does make an XW - i have one and they are great - very comfy and you cant tell it is an XW by sitting in it.


                          • Original Poster

                            I can sometimes handle a smaller seat size - I have no problem riding in my friend's 17.5" schleese which is deep but has kind of a nice flat spot in the seat but the 17.5" tristan I borrowed from her before I got mine felt very small. I have an Equibette hunt saddle that is an 18" and I absolutely swim in it.

                            I unfortunately feel like I do need to hurry up and get something different- I don't have anything that fits him better, my attempts to pad to ease it don't seem to be helping at all.... He's just starting to get some topline back the last thing I want is a too tight saddle making him uncomfortable and reluctant to do it.

                            I emailed to Trumbull Mtn and they think that a high wither Thorowgood could work for him... I'm just nervous about it because I wasn't fond of the other synthetics I've ridden in previously... And it's more than some of the used leather saddles I'm looking at... BUT On the plus side, the changeable gullet thing COULD be really nice to use on future mounts (and this one... plus I can get a 18" seat) And another site sells the T6 model (equally good looking but fully synthetic) for a bit less.... so... it's still in the running.

                            The Aachen at Classic Saddlery.... the should tree may work for him, but no guarantee that THIS 17.5 will do the right thing for me...

                            BUT the Classic Vivian is still available at a great price ($800 and looks NEW), it's an 18" for me, a Wide tree for him.... The gal at Classic saddlery thinks that it's worth trying on him (saddle is being sold by a third party, so Im assuming she's giving me her best estimate, having no stake in it) BUT the only disadvantage here is that if it doesn't work for us, we're stuck with it until I can resell it....

                            And I found a Wide Tree Niedersuss in my budget... but... again... 17.5...

                            I would be delighted to get my hands on a 34 cm Tristan... but most of the used tristans that people are letting go of are 32 cm and smaller trees....

                            Tried to get some pics of his topline but the ones taken in the barn in the crossties didn't turn out well-overexposed with the barn door open and too dark with it closed....

                            Here's an album of the horse in question... have some crummy pics of his topline and a bunch of liberty ones from different angles....

                            Last edited by blairasb; May. 13, 2012, 10:05 PM. Reason: Adding pictures


                            • #15
                              Have you talked to Stubben about having a rep out? - they have some 17.5 - 18.5 XW's in their "used" saddle sale ...

                              Synthetic, no matter how nice, is not going to feel the same as a leather saddle - some people notice this, some don't.

                              I would not bring in a final sale saddle when you've never sat in that particular saddle model & you have a somewhat difficult horse fit.


                              • #16
                                I tried the Thorowgood T6 and T8. To me there was a big difference in feel as in the T8 that is half leather had a much softer, nicer feel to me. It is leather in most of the places that matter and it looks like a leather saddle when you are in it. It is also wool flocked and has an adjustable gullet which really help with fit.

                                The seat sizing could be more generous as an 18" is as large as they go.

                                My camel withered horse likes the T8 a lot.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Well, I have a saddle coming for a "trial". Not in the traditional sense- it's a final sale... but I have somebody who wants it for sure if it doesn't work for my boy....

                                  I went for the Classic Vivian. For $800 incl shipping, I think it's in amazing condition: