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Saddle advice- wide backed short-coupled horse doesn't like his treeless saddle

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  • Saddle advice- wide backed short-coupled horse doesn't like his treeless saddle

    Hi everyone,
    I'm fairly new to these message boards but read back through recent posts before deciding to post this. My apologies if it was just covered somewhere else!

    I have a very wide-backed, LONG-withered, short-coupled Bashkir Curly gelding. He's seven years old and was recently diagnosed with Equine Metabolic Syndrome...meaning he's basically in the early stages of being an insulin resistant horse.

    This diagnosis has helped me better understand his diet requirements and he has accordingly lost a lot of weight that he needed to lose.

    When I bought him a saddle last year *nothing* fit him and so we eventually got him a Barefoot Cheyenne treeless saddle. It was the only saddle he would stand still for and seemed comfortable in.

    However, now that he's lost weight, I have borrowed an extra-wide Thornhill endurance saddle that fits him well. I am not terribly in shape as a rider and I have to admit to feeling more secure in a treed saddle with kneeblocks right now. Also, Sage has an old injury to his sacroiliac joint and seems more comfortable with me getting on when I use the treed saddle now.

    So I'm doing research into new saddle options for us. Sage is still VERY wide since he needs a Thornhill extra-wide tree, but he is clearly not as freakishly wide as he once was.

    I would like a saddle that is secure out on the trails, and still reasonably light. Sage and I do some fairly intense up and down hill terrain on occasion and I can't see really being comfortable in the Thornhill endurance model we've borrowed.

    So I'm wondering what suggestions people have for other saddles to try? Because Sage is so short-coupled I would hesitate to try an abetta endurance saddle again...any thoughts?

    Thanks in advance for any input or advice, I know we have quite a lot of factors to consider here.

  • #2
    Have you looked at Specialized Saddles? A friend of mine has a trailmaster with the widest tree for her super wide, somewhat short coupled mare. It's fairly light and somewhat adjustable in terms of fit. The eurolight model is even shorter and lighter, I think I remember reading the bars were something like 19" long.

    That horse was a nutter, and I felt very secure in that saddle when I rode her. The only thing I really didn't like about it was the hard seat, but I understand they can be ordered with extra padding.


    • #3
      A bit more information please...
      Why do you not like the Thornhill?

      I have never seen any of the newer Abetta saddles fit any horse...


      • #4
        I also vote for trying a specialized saddle. Had a shortback wide arab who I could not fit to a saddle. Tried Wintec and Throwogood. Had the wintec fitted to her and reflocked, still would not fit. Finally tried a Specialized and have been happy ever since!


        • #5
          You might post a photo with the saddle on horse, show us what he looks like.

          I have a number of large horses who are all very short backed. I have to be real careful when buying western saddles, that the skirts do not cover the loin area. I don't even look at anything that is longer than 26", front to back, they just won't fit my horses.

          Same with saddle blankets. Those 36" squares that cover the saddle pad for western, just go all the way to the point of the rump!! I ended up using those too-big, really pretty Navaho type blankets for rugs in the house. Just wasn't thinking when I purchased them at a sale, but they make good rugs!!

          The friction of using the too big saddle skirt and blanket on his back, could make a horse very unhappy. Just an idea to consider.


          • #6
            Maybe a saddle with a round skirt.

            My barrel saddle which I ride 4+ hour stretches in has a 23" skirt. I like the high cantle, pommel, and deep rough out seat for security.

            I ride up and down very steep mountains here in PA almost every weekend.


            • Original Poster

              Thank you to everyone who recommended Specialized saddles, as I hadn't heard of them in awhile, and hadn't thought to research them more. They do look like a saddle that would possibly work for us, but I'd say they're about double what I can afford to spend. Still worth keeping an eye out on ebay.

              The Thornhill saddle is fine for a lot of the trail riding we do, but is not very comfortable for me. I think after riding in my Barefoot treeless for a year I may just have to readjust to what a treed saddle feels like...but my seatbones get sore in the Thornhill. I would just buy a gel seat cover, or adjust or deal or whatever, but I also don't feel the Thornhill is really secure enough for the more extreme trail rides I have been on. It doesn't happen terribly often that I am going up a steep hill over huge boulders and ducking tree branches all at the same time...but it's happened before, and it will happen again and it's nice to have an endurance/western style deeper seat/higher pommel and cantle when it does happen.

              And here is, hopefully, a picture of Sage in his saddle;
              (Please excuse my somewhat awful riding, I really am *just* getting back into shape. Hopefully you can see how short-backed he is though.)


              • #8
                I have gone through about a dozen saddles on my wide/short coupled mare. One was a Specialized (sold it). Finally found what works for both of us, a used Timberline Southern Comfort. It's lightweight, short, wide, and my horse loves it! No more white hairs! It cost $1500 used and I found it on TackTrader. You might be able to pick one up for less. Not everyone likes flex panel saddles like these, but I like it just fine. The most important thing to me is that my horse is finally comfortable.



                • Original Poster

                  Sorry you've gone through so much trouble finding a saddle for your mare, but also glad in a way that I'm not the only one struggling with this combination of physical attributes in their horse.

                  I haven't ever heard of Timberline...what GORGEOUS saddles!! They look *perfect.*
                  (Totally out of my price range, but perfect.)

                  I like the endurance models without saddle horns but was there anything in particular about the southern comfort that you liked for your wide horse?


                  • #10
                    I took my new Arab to a Thornhill dealer today. He has a very short back. My older English saddles are not quite right for him. I feel like I need a bigger seat. The fitter tried on about 12 saddles on him. The trail saddle was way too long in the back and doesn't come in less than 18". The others were mostly too long, or bridged. The only one that fit great was a close contact, way too uncomfortable and flat for long hours on the trail.

                    I don't know what to do next. I don't want treeless. I can't afford Solstice. I hated Abetta's. Maybe get the saddle fitter to retro fit the old Stubben.
                    There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.


                    • #11
                      Have you looked at the Bob Marshall? It's treeless, but very stable. I LOVE mine on my short, wide-backed, mutton withered Arab. I have the endurance model, and my husband has the Western trail rider.


                      Endurance - http://www.sportssaddle.com/b_endurance.php

                      Trail Riding (Western) - http://www.sportssaddle.com/b_trail_rider.php

                      I do have to fess up - I thought these were the goofiest looking saddles - until I actually rode in one. Then I was like, "how quickly can I get one?"

                      My saddle does cover a lot of my horses back, but the weight bearing surface doesn't touch his loins, and he doesn't seem to mind the skirts sitting there. I do have the round skirts.

                      Here's a shot of my Arab. You can get an idea of how far back the saddle goes. I'm not sure if you can tell how wide he is, but trust me, he's got a very wide chest/shoulders/back. By the way, this was taken at Acadia National Park last year, about 3/4s of the way through a 20+ mile day (which neither of us were really in shape for). We did three long days at the park, and he was never sore.



                      • Original Poster

                        What a great picture...always nice to see other people riding without bits or treed saddles as well. Sadly, as comfortable as my Barefoot treeless is, I just don't think treeless is right for Sage at this time. Whenever I get on he is in pain with his treeless saddle...at least, if I get on from the left side. I have to wonder if that means other things are hurting too. He does seem happier in the Thornhill treed saddle right now. :/ Certainly I'm not! I do feel more secure in it right now, but it is not anywhere near as comfortable as my Barefoot.

                        Anyhow, nice picture and thanks for sharing!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by whitesage View Post
                          What a great picture...always nice to see other people riding without bits or treed saddles as well. Sadly, as comfortable as my Barefoot treeless is, I just don't think treeless is right for Sage at this time. Whenever I get on he is in pain with his treeless saddle...at least, if I get on from the left side. I have to wonder if that means other things are hurting too. He does seem happier in the Thornhill treed saddle right now. :/ Certainly I'm not! I do feel more secure in it right now, but it is not anywhere near as comfortable as my Barefoot.

                          Anyhow, nice picture and thanks for sharing!
                          um, have you considered a mounting block? I am too gravitationally challenged to mount from the ground. After I leave the barn I use ditches, banks, stumps, logs, or whatever to remount if I have to get off. I know that my large lardass pulls on my horses' spines even so, but it has to be MUCH less than if I were clambering up from the ground.


                          • #14
                            I had the same problem and found that the DESOTO endurance saddle works the best and it is very comfortable for me


                            • #15
                              For your Metabolic Q&A... Yahoo CUshings Group... you won't regret it! It says "Cushings" in the title, but they deal with I.R. hores and issues as well. There is not a better source of advice and help.. believe me!

                              I have a Sensation Treeless.... Sweet ride and my Twh loves the shoulder freedom... no slide issues. You ca get a demo as well is you just wanna 'see'. I've never heard any complaints about the Bob Marshal Treeless saddles either.

                              Angie J
                              S.Ontario, Canada


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by whitesage View Post
                                I haven't ever heard of Timberline...what GORGEOUS saddles!! They look *perfect.*
                                (Totally out of my price range, but perfect.)

                                I like the endurance models without saddle horns but was there anything in particular about the southern comfort that you liked for your wide horse?
                                I think it was worth *every penny*, and I doubt I will ever sell it I wish I would have bought one at the beginning, I would have saved literally *thousands* of dollars on saddles that didn't fit from all sorts of places that said they could fit my horse.

                                The Southern Comfort has a wider tree. There's a lady in Montana that sells them (although I got mine from TackTrader), she's very knowledgeable and helpful and has used saddles, too. Her company is Saddle Outfitters (do a search). She has an Orthoflex Tempi for $950.00. We got one of those from my husband's wide TWH, and it also fits my horse. It's an extremely comfy saddle, too!



                                • Original Poster

                                  *Thank you* for that information, very helpful and I will check it out.

                                  Jeano, I do use a mounting block...most of the time but not every single time. He's fine when I get on from the right side even in his treeless, but seems to have pain when I get on from the left side. I still think it is related to his old sacroiliac injury. I'm doing a lot of hill walking with him and some trotting to strengthen the area but he seems consistently grumpy about my getting on when I use his treeless saddle. Mounting block or no mounting block...

                                  It's quite a bit better in the treed Thornhill. Not perfect, but his reaction if he has one, is mild.

                                  Angie, thank you for mentioning the yahoo group. I joined a few months ago and they have been a big help. They were so knowledgeable about what I should do a few weeks ago when Sage escaped from the round pen and spent a few hours during the night out grazing...they told me to ice his legs which was something even the vet didn't know to do. Sage came through everything just fine and with not even a touch of warmth in his hooves and I think it was due to me icing his legs. The group is a little overwhelming sometimes, but very very helpful.

                                  Spook thank you for mentioning the Desoto saddle. That looks like another option worth investigating.

                                  And just as a general comment, I *do* think treeless saddles are great, which is why I have one!! You can't beat having an 8 lb saddle that is incredibly comfortable!!! But I have 2 reasons right now for wanting something with a tree- the first being that I am not a very secure rider right now and am just getting back into shape riding. The second being Sage's behavior around me getting on when he's wearing his treeless or his bareback pad. He just does not seem comfortable. But that has everything to do with Sage's specific injury, and not anything to do with my opinion of treeless saddles.


                                  • #18
                                    Bump for Chocomare
                                    The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!


                                    • #19
                                      Thanks Freebird, but -well- the thread is 3 years old
                                      <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                                      • #20
                                        But still good info on brands etc.
                                        The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!