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Cross Post from Off Course: Any Western Saddle Gurus out there?

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  • Cross Post from Off Course: Any Western Saddle Gurus out there?

    I'm trying to find a western saddle for my American Saddlebred. Of course, he was hard enough to fit for my dressage saddle. He has very tall, long withers and hollows behind his shoulders. I've found this great pad--The Biofit Correction Pad--that helps fill in the hollows and make saddles fit him better, but there is still the problem of his wither. Even with that pad, the gullets of most western saddles are too close to his withers. The best fit we have allows me only one little finger of clearance.

    He needs a semi-quarterhorse bar angle with a fairly narrow gullet (6-6.5). Again, even when the bar angle and gullet width fit him like a glove, there isn't enough wither clearance. The gaited horse saddles I've seen have high wither clearance, but the flare is too wide for him.

    I've been hither and yon on the web reading up about Western saddle fit. I've read on several sites that what I need to ask for is a saddle with a high pommel (or gullet) clearance.

    The trouble is, none of these sites suggest saddles with "high" gullet clearance. And it's not a typical measurement provided in catalogs or online. Can anyone weigh in with either brands or models that might typically have a higher gullet clearance?

    Thanks in advance!


  • #2
    I don't put myself in the guru category, but my appendix QH has The Biggest Shark Fin withers on any horse I've owned dating back to 1965. The Circle Y brand trail saddles provided ample clearance (and Circle Y has a helpful serial number system that starts with tree size, 04 being biggest, but alas my guy outgrew even that one, my recollection though is that it was a 6.5 gullet). Alternately- in general a 'Wade' tree in my experience provides higher clearance. My current saddle is a McCall Wade. The Circle Y's are significantly lighter weight if that's a consideration for you.

    I tried a Courts reining saddle that I really liked, and it fit everywhere beautifully...except for providing sufficient clearance for those withers.

    Caution on padding up- while that is often a solution for western saddle fit, when it comes to the withers, thicker pads can actually put more pressure on the base of the withers.


    • #3
      Check out National Bridle Shop, Tennessean Lite Rider. Quite a tall gullet. You might consider the hornless version. That horn on top of that tall gullet- well, it's ...tall. http://www.nationalbridleshop.com/

      Check out Crestridge- they are good fitters and good people.www.crestridgesaddlery.com

      Check out Eli Miller saddles, too.

      I use a Prof Choice thin air ride pad on my TWh who likes to go hollow when he gets upset and drop his back terribly. The little kidney shaped cutouts are subtle enough to fill him in just right, and support the saddle when he rounds up.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for the tips so far.

        Actually, Beverly, I've been looking into the High Horse saddles, which are made at the same facility as Circle Y and are a bit less-expensive. Unless, of course, I find the ideal Circle Y used.

        And I don't like to pad up too much, but the Bio-fit pad has just enough to make up for his hollows without pinching or putting pressure on his withers IF the tree is otherwise a good fit.

        And Katarine, I'll check out National Bridle Shop, thanks!



        • #5
          Crates has a tree that isn't called 'sport'horse... but... performance horse maybe? It is ideal on sporthorse build types.

          A single cutback, built up like the Cashel western wedge might be the cat's meow.

          The Gaited Horse trees also do very well on those with withers and long scapulars. Particularly I would look at the Nat'l Bridle Shop ones that are made by Crates.

          Remember though that once the angle of the bars and width is right, you *do* need to pad correctly, since the pads take the place of panels in an English saddle. On more dramatic conformations, you might need to go high end like Skito, where you can shim as needed--As Beverly mentioned, too *much* padding can be just as much an issue as too little.

          Finally, the pommel is 'close', but does it touch or have pressure? Not all horses allow the same kind of clearance. My Arab stallion with withers and a scapular that goes on for days only has just a wee bit of clearance in any saddle... but there's no PRESSURE if they fit right. He's SO uphill, that the saddle *has* to sit close or else you'd be tossed back onto the cantle.

          It might be that you need to look at a different *type* of western... reining or roping or ranch or... something DIFFERENT than the types you've been looking at? I find a good Wade type saddle seems to do better on my Sporthorses than the pleasure or eq. types. Reining is my second favorite, and roping is third. "Pleasure" "Equitation/Show" or "Trail" saddles come in last. Endurance is a different story, and I've had a better time fitting endurance type (Abetta, for one) to them than many other types.
          InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

          Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


          • #6
            For those wondering, this is not a difficult fix, a slight modification in the Tree would raise the gullet Clearance by about an inch to 1.5"

            This is not that uncommon, on rare occasions a Cashel Reverse Wedge Pad may also be needed.

            Another way if you are trying to use a very expensive saddle you already have is to use a Len Brown Corrector Pad, they are about 350.00 but if you have a 2,000.00 saddle already and do not want to buy a new one, they are great. Google Len Brown Corrector Pad to find his website, he is a great guy too