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Dressage Saddle Help - Calling Armchair Saddle Fitters!

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  • Dressage Saddle Help - Calling Armchair Saddle Fitters!

    Hi everyone!

    I need some assistance in finding the right brand and style of saddle for my mare. As a disclaimed, I DO have access to two lovely saddle fitters. Unfortunately they are also dealers which means I am pushed towards a certain brand. In this case, I bought a Sommer jump saddle I hated (Maresy LOVED) because it supposedly was all that the fitter claimed would fit my horse. Lovely saddle, but it's black and the flaps are almost too forward for me.

    Anyway, I am looking for a dressage saddle to replace my Bates Caprilli. Unfortunately that saddle is too long for her back. We have 13 inches to work with. The bates has gussets and is 14 inches. Little Mama won't tolerate that extra inch so out it goes.

    My horse's Specs:
    - 13 inches of back space
    - High withers but set up front
    - Straight to mildly curved tree
    - Steep, upswept panels
    - 17 inch seat
    - Sensitive back and needs a half pad regardless of how perfect the fit is
    - Short tree points
    - Wide shoulders, takes a medium-wide to wide (she is in a medium-wide Bates adjustable gullet if that helps.
    - ^-shaped back, so angled panels are better. Actual angle degrees I will have to measure but I will get back to everyone.

    BUDGET: 1000-1200.

    Saddles that do fit:
    - Sommer espirit (perfect fit)
    - Stubben Zaria

    Saddles that DON'T fit:
    - HDR Pro Lexus (bridged)
    - Wintec/Bates Isabella (panels too wide)
    - Bates Caprilli (panels too wide)
    - Dover's Walendorf Saddle (gussets, too long)
    - Stubben Roxanne (too curvy)
    - Passier's (curvy tree)
    - Schleese's (curvy tree)
    - Custom Saddlery (gussets)
    - County (tree too straight, gussets)

    Asthetics I would like:
    - Knee blocks
    - extra long billets
    - Newer model/Lightly used
    - Monoflap (not required)

    I'm willing to buy used but new is better.

    Images are attached. If anyone needs more info please ask. My goal is to buy a saddle with the right specs and have the tree/flocking adjusted by the fitter. I do not want to buy directly from the fitter.

    Thanks all!

  • #2
    She's shaped like a horse I had several years ago. He went beautifully in an Albion legend 5000 with a TB cut tree. I got it used for about $1500, several years back. It held up beautifully and was quite comfortable. I'll see if I can find one to show you...

    That being said, I recently posted a thread about a horse with weird issues that all ended up being related to saddle fit (pony likes a "too wide" saddle -- I just try not to look at him/it!), so I'm not super confident in my saddle fitting eye right now!

    Edited to Add:

    This is what I had. Note that it's not a monoflap.



    • Original Poster

      Glyphica - A friend of mine owns an albion. It had gussets. Does this style have gussets? Saddle fitter said no gussets on this horse, only upswept panels. There is an albion at my local tack shop, perhaps I will try it!

      edit: that saddle looks like a contender!


      • #4
        I believe it did, but nothing like as prominent as gussets on a custom or a county.


        • #5
          It's an older model, so it's not as "flocked up" as newer albions either.


          • Original Poster

            That saddle is actually in really good condition!!! I love it! Are there any other brands that may work, though?


            • #7
              Stubbens tend to have shorter panels too, and I think most of them aren't gusseted either (could be wrong about their dressage saddles -- only ever had stubben jumping saddles). I've had good luck with them on TBs too. Although, the older ones aren't monoflap and won't have external blocks.


              • #8
                Originally posted by thecolorcoal View Post
                That saddle is actually in really good condition!!! I love it! Are there any other brands that may work, though?
                There's several on Ebay too. I've bought a few saddles through Pelham Saddlery and give them a big thumbs up on customer service.


                • Original Poster

                  Do the stubbens have curved trees? I've seen some of the jump models... they look very curved to me! Maybe it is deceitful.


                  • #10
                    I think curve is relative. I'd say more curved than a county, but not excessive. I'd definitely suggest that you only pick saddles with a trial or return option.


                    • Original Poster

                      Good idea. Definitely going to try those! Saw a ton of Stubbens that could work.


                      • #12
                        I have a mare with a similar back and just bought her an older Black Country - I think it is an Eloquence or precursor to that model. It's a medium tree and has wither gussets. It technically has back gussets as well, but they are not any bigger than the rear of many non-gusseted saddle panels. I just took it to my fitter yesterday with mare and she verified that it was the correct shape and will fit well once reflocked.

                        I think one of the Albions with the TB tree would be a good bet as well. I am still kicking myself a bit for not picking one up that was on eBay several months ago for about $600. Many of the regular Albion trees are fairly open tending towards a hoop type, so might be too wide up top for your horse.

                        Also, County Connection is not a particularly straight tree, IMO. The older Counties seem more curvy. Not sure which model you tried?
                        Last edited by outerbanks77; Nov. 11, 2017, 11:41 AM.


                        • Original Poster

                          outerbanks77 I tried the newer counties,with the huge flared gussets in the back. Too straight and too long. Same story with the wisair. She has a very level back but is conservatively downhill, and for some reason that caused the saddles to bridge... ???

                          I will look into black country! In my part of the wild west that brand is very, very rare. I've never seen one up close before.


                          • #14
                            So you do not like the Sommer Esprit?

                            A newer Stubben Genesis would be a good contender. I'd buy a used one because they lose value quite dramatically from new. The tree has a slight curve, the the panels are slightly upswept, and it isn't terribly long.

                            A Euroriding Achat is one that I'd also consider. There are quite a few made with French cusions/banana cushions. Several high pommel models accommodate a good size withers, ans tree width can be tweaked. Wool flocked. Good price point, but difficult to find in the US.

                            Harry Dabbs/Jaguar makes a saddle that usually fits a TB style in the front and has quite the dramatic banana panel. Very upswept. Almost too much for my liking, but I haven't ridden in one.

                            Black Country really fit the bill (Wexford jumping, Eloquence dressage) on a horse I had with a similar shape. Super comfortable for me too.

                            The Albions weren't as short as described IMO, and I looked at many, so they did not work for my super short backed guy. But he's a bit dramatic on the compact side of things. They may work for you though!

                            I've also had success with Kieffer (Athens, Inzell, Amsterdam) for short backed TB types. The newer ones are comfortable and can be found for good prices slightly used. Adjustable tree width and wool flocking.

                            The KN Symphonie is usually recommended for short backs, but I hate that saddle. It just felt so flat all over, which I thought I would like, but didn't. Offers a more A shaped tree.

                            And finally, Prestige. Some are very curvy, but I have seen some less dramatic models. They seem to offer a correct and stable leg position for a variety of riders. They also offer adjustability and upswept panels. They aren't very long IMO, but it really depends on the model there because like I said, some are very curved so may not be a road to venture down.


                            • Original Poster

                              Well it's not so much that i don't like the sommer. The brand is excellent, but my saddle is black with YELLOW DEERSKIN SEAT AND BARS! It's the ugliest thing i've ever seen. BUT it fit miss mare like a glove and I was tired of searching around so I bought it on the spot. But it is hideous and I want to dye the entire thing black... I feel the albion may be too long, too... I do love prestige but finding one that's straighter is difficult.

                              I've got lots of brands to research now!


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by thecolorcoal View Post
                                outerbanks77 I tried the newer counties,with the huge flared gussets in the back. Too straight and too long. Same story with the wisair. She has a very level back but is conservatively downhill, and for some reason that caused the saddles to bridge... ???

                                I will look into black country! In my part of the wild west that brand is very, very rare. I've never seen one up close before.
                                Yes, they're rare out here in Idaho - the only other person I know who has one is the fellow boarder who bought my old Vinici when I had my custom one built.

                                Many Black Country saddles come with serge panels, which I think the horses really like. I wish the saddle I just bought had serge, but it's leather panels. The saddler I am working with is training for her Master Saddler certification and was really enthusiastic when I told her I had a BC, and she said they are one of the top brands for being good for the horse.

                                Also, Mike Corcoran designed many of the BC saddles, and sometimes you can find his saddles, which are very similar in design. I just had one on trial and was so sad that it was too wide for my little mare. If I could have afforded to, I would have hung on to it just because it was so nice! Not sure what part of the wild west you're in, but Mike is based out of Texas, and I've heard that he is super helpful. My saddler mentioned that she knows him (she had one of his saddles at her shop) and that he would probably have more info on my BC than the company did.


                                • Original Poster

                                  outerbanks77 is there a place in the US that sells them? Or even overseas? There was only one on eBay and it was not style I was looking for. If I have to buy custom it may take a little longer but I can budget for about 2500-3000. I am in CA, Bay Area.


                                  • #18
                                    I think Black Country's website has a list of reps/sellers, no?

                                    Also, of the saddle is bridging, it usually means that the tree shape is too flat to suit the curve of the horse's back. However, other factors can come into play.


                                    • #19
                                      OP if you haven't already, make tracings of the horse's back at two inch intervals and cut them out on cardboard. It's best to have a saddle fitter do this but if you don't have an independent saddle fitter you may be out of luck. You can then use these to assess the fit of a saddle at the tack shop and not need to have to bring it home on trial if it's obviously a bad fit. You can also send copies of this to the better online 2nd hand outlets and see what they recommend.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Scribbler I definitely have not made tracings. But that's a really good idea. I do have 2 independent saddle fitters, but they are also dealers, so my hope is to find an off-the-rack saddle they can adjust and not be sucked into buying something out of their truck that I may not be able to even afford...