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Specialized saddle ?s

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  • Specialized saddle ?s

    Hi, I'm a newbie here hoping to try LD/endurance soon. The last major hurdle I have before even hitting the trails is finding a saddle to fit my gelding. I purchased a used Desoto over a year ago which seemed to be a good fit for a while, but now causes dry spots behind the withers. Seems to be bridging.

    I already posted on endurance.net but there doesn't appear to be much activity there, as I've received no replies, and I find it very difficult navigating the forums there.

    I have been looking for a used Trailmaster in my price range for a while now and was hoping some of you who own, or have ridden in, Specialized saddles can answer some questions I have.

    Are there any differences in the quality of these saddles between older and newer models? I ask this because I came across a thread somewhere in which a poster gave a "newer" model less than stellar reviews for quality. Might even have been on this forum.

    What are some of the differences between the Trailmaster and the Eurolight models, regarding overall comfort and durability? Are the trees the same size and same "footprint" on both models? Do you have a preference one way or the other and, if so, why?
    My Desoto is a 16" which I am fairly comfortable in. Are the 16" Trailmaster and Eurolight saddles sized the same as the Desoto, or do they run larger/smaller?

    Any other tips/suggestions you might have re: these saddles would be appreciated.

    Thank you,

  • #2
    There are two other endurance riders at my barn. One rides in a Specialized International and really likes it. However, she is a featherweight and doesn't ride very much or very hard, so I'm not sure how she - or her horse - would feel about the saddle after putting more competitive miles on it.

    The second person is a heavyweight rider and tested a Trailmaster but found it uncomfortable. I remember the saddlefitter doing a thorough job with all the shims (which, btw, looked very cumbersome - I like my saddles flocked ) but the horse got sore anyway so the thought was that it simply didn't have good weight distribution for a bigger rider. And truly, there isn't much to this saddle.

    Personally I have no experience with it other than watching that one fitting so I would suggest to call or email David Kaden at Specialized and talk to him or his associates directly and ask the questions you posted above. Then you should definitely test the various styles yourself before committing. What one person finds comfortable may not work at all for the next. Same goes for horses. And you should be fairly knowledgeable assessing good fit since the system with velcroing on the shims is not all that simple, in my opinion.

    Best of luck!


    • #3
      I sent you a private message- way too long to post here.

      My saga with a SS. But lots of people have success with them, but I also think it's important to weigh all of your options. Never ever can ONE saddle truly work for every horse/rider combination. Not treeless, not shimmed up, not with XYZ pad, whatever, it boils down to what works for your horse.


      • #4
        I rode in a Specialized Trailmaster, which was new about 6 or 7 years ago. I rode in it for about a year (someone else's horse). I wasn't thrilled with the quality, but it was a decent enough saddle. Not sure about what counts as an "older" model, but if they are even lower quality than that now, I'd be real unhappy, considering the price tag. The seat was very hard (though I think you can order with more padding in the seat), but I never found it very comfortable overall.

        I would also recommend ordering through a rep, rather than directly from Specialized, and not necessarily just taking the word of a Specialized fitter, if you hire one.


        • #5
          PM me and I will give you my sister's email. She has one and loves it and can answer some questions.
          There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.


          • #6
            I bought one 11-12 years ago. Still have it and it's the saddle my daughters grab when they saddle up. They like the lighter weight than my custom saddles. Their horses do well with it and my daughters have never complained about it.

            I actually bought it for me and used it for endurance for a couple of years when I was trying to save weight on the horse. But I prefer a little heavier custom built western saddle for most trail rides.

            There is a reason, they weigh 20-25 lbs vs regular western saddles weigh 40 lbs. The leather is thinner, Everything is on a lighter weight scale.


            • #7
              I bought a new Trailmaster in 2008. I thought the quality of the saddle was good. Rode in it about 6 months and did two LD rides. My horse did great in it and I love the idea of the shim system, but I feel more comfortable in an english saddle on my narrow boy (gotta have those knees rolls). I have been missing that saddle lately, though. My gelding's back really changes with the seasons, and I miss being able to adjust the saddle fit. Oh well, at least I have a great saddle fitter now.

              I did get a great deal on a brand new saddle (was already built), and had no problems selling the saddle. I sold it for what I paid for it very quickly. I'd consider another Specialized Saddle in the future.

              Not sure where you are, but I recommend Julie Capaldi for your Specialized Saddle needs. I did not purchase from her, but she did help me with fitting my saddle. Her website is: http://www.mysaddlefits.com/
              "We are all doing the best we can from our own level of consciousness.”
              ― Deepak Chopra


              • Original Poster

                BoD - PM sent, thanks.

                While I have heard the odd story, here and there, about problems with these saddles, it seems most folks really like them. My luck, I'll end up being one of the odd stories!

                I haven't really tried many saddles on my guy yet, as he's kept on a private farm with no other riders. So I don't really have access to other's saddles to try out. I'm willing to spend the time tinkering with shims and pads if it results in a decent fit. My current saddle, the Desoto, isn't going to work for rides longer than an hour or so, even with my makeshift shims.

                So, I'm trying to learn more about these 2 Specialized models, hoping one of them might provide a solution to my problem.

                Thanks for all of your replies, every one helps in the decision-making process.

                Has anyone used the Eurolight model?

                BTW - I'm in northern IL, so not too close to Julie Capaldi.


                • #9
                  Bought one and HATED it!!!! It looked cheap, was rock hard (yes, got the "padded" seat) and gave me literal saddle sores (first time in 11 years of endurance riding) I just about pulled from the ride, but my horse ended up pulled at the finish anyway for a sore back, after saddle was professionally fitted to him before the ride. Tried and tried to make it work, seat savers, shimming shimming shimming (with lots of swearing) which I didn't find easy at all, finally sold it--it sold quickly for good money and I was so so happy to see it leave. I have Tuckers, Ortho-Flex, Bob Marshall and a SR Enduro, would never recommend a Specialized
                  Windwalker Ridge: Gaited horses, lessons, training, sales


                  • #10
                    I have a Specialized for about 3 years now. LOVE IT! Had a very hard to fit arab and went through saddle fitters reflocking saddles and then tried other saddles, demoed a specialized and really liked it and liked the fact that i can fit it to different horses. 3 years have went by now and never a sore back and white spots from the other saddle finally going away. I had it checked at a endurance ride last year by a specialized fitter and it still fit my girl great, I made no changes to it. I also would recommed Julie Calpadi to help you with the order. Would I buy another specialized.....yep in a minute.


                    • #11
                      Specialized Saddles

                      I judge them by how they work for me. I use the International model. As far as trees/fitting, they are all the same except the Trailmaster has western fenders. The International has small knee rolls, and the Eurolight is pretty much a cut down light version of an International. I Bought my first one 5 years ago, bought my second one 3 years ago. They hold up fine.

                      I am an over the limit middleweight. Usually tack out at about 215 pounds.

                      Did The Old Dominion 100 in 2007 as my first 100. Did Tevis 6 weeks later on the same horse. .

                      This past weekend rode a 100 and my young horse with a rider who completed her first 100 after riding him 5 miles \beforehand.

                      My young horse was Ozark Country Endurance Riders Best Condition horse of 2010, Reserve high point horse, tied for high mileage etc. Never a tender back with me, having much not real good equitation :-)

                      I love the Specialized Saddles and would not ride any other kind. Have had, and liked Tuckers and Orthoflex, but they didn't fit my horse when he changed body condition.

                      I believe the key is to keep messing with the shims until you get the tree flat and with equal pressure where ever it touches the horse's back. Then readjust every three months. It takes me about 5 minutes to refit the saddle to my horses.

                      Paul N. Sidio
                      Spokane MO


                      • Original Poster

                        Well, I found a Trailmaster within my budget and decided to go for it, based on the mostly favorable comments and suggestions I've read. I should have it by the end of the week, but I'll need to buy a girth in order to try it out. I don't have any english/dressage style girths. Not even sure what size to get, so have to wait til I can measure with the saddle.
                        Would those of you who ride Trailmasters mind posting the girth size you use along with the heart girth measurement of your horse?

                        I've been fighting with saddle issues for the 3 years since starting my gelding, I sure hope this turns out to be the ticket!

                        Thanks for all of your replies,



                        • #13
                          Specialized Saddles

                          Congratulations on getting your saddle. As far as girths, You need a shorter one than most saddles take. My 825 pound narrow built Arabian uses a 22 inch girth and it is adjusted up to where there are only 2 holes left per side. His 1/2 brother is a wider built and somewhat heavier horse and takes the same girth but had 4 or 5 holes left.

                          I use the wool fleece girths from Running Bear.

                          One other thing. The main foam pad that velcros to the tree comes in several different thicknesses. The standard is 3/4 inch thick. That was perfect for the thin built horse, but for some reason, it allowed the saddle to touch the back on my other horse especially on hilly steep rides, or when doing lots of cantering. This caused a swollen tender spot on his spine at the rear of the saddle. I replaced the 3/4 pad with a 1 inch pad, and that solved the problem.

                          Do not be afraid to cut the wedges and flat fitting shims to the exact size you need. That is what they are for. You can piece them together like a puzzle. There are several places where I have 2 or more fitting shims stacked for a few inches and then drop down to one shim to make it fit flush on the horses naked back (fit it without the saddle pad you will use)

                          As far as saddle pads, I use a synthetic fleece pad made by Stable Gear Tack. It is the material used on bedridden patients in nursing homes. Provides enough cushion and wicks water and heat away.

                          Good luck with it. Feel free to email me privately if you have any questions paul@ucozark.com

                          Paul N. Sidio
                          Spokane MO


                          • Original Poster

                            Not sure what my Arab weighs, but I just measured his heart girth at 69" and he's a little down in weight. The person I bought the saddle from measured 75" on her gelding and uses a 26/28" girth. I suppose I'll just wait to get it and do the measurements. Getting impatient I guess!

                            So, Paul, your horse's back flexed enough to come up and touch the back of the saddle? Sort of like "not enough approach angle" on a 4x4 vehicle? How much distance between the rear of the pad and the rear edge of the saddle? I wonder if the pad area was longer in the back maybe the saddle wouldn't touch. It'll be interesting to play with all of the pieces in trying to work out a good fit for my guy.

                            I've heard lots of good things about 100% wool pads. I have one in the western variety and like it's ability to cool and to grip the horse. I will probably use the fleece pad I got with my Desoto, until I determine that something else will be better. I'll check out the equipment you mentioned.

                            Thanks again, I'll contact you if I have ?s about the saddle.