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Need saddle help rather desperately; Update post 28

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  • Need saddle help rather desperately; Update post 28

    Ok- lots of questions because I am new to Western Saddles and Gaited Horses.

    I sold my nutty TB and now am trying to satisfy my horse addiction by renting horses at a local gaited-horse-rental-trail-riding facility. The only problem is that the rental saddles are AWFUL!!!! My poor arse is seriously bruised (seatbones areas) - from a 1-hour lesson in the arena!!!

    Sooooo - what I am looking for is something that will work for a gaited horse, be comfortable for hours in the saddle, be of a "Western" type but prefer no saddle horn so I can scrunch low on the horse's neck to climb a steep place with low tree branches without being gutted.

    I believe Katarine likes the Steele saddles (I think, am I right Kat?) I like the looks of this onehttp://www.steelesaddle.com/mountaineer.htm
    and this one
    Would one or the other be "better" in some way?

    Specialized is a possibility due to the adjustable fit- however I don't think I am usually going to have a lot of time to sit around the barn with my rentahorse fiddling with shims, plus I have heard they have a rather hard seat which I need to avoid.

    Any other suggestions? I will pretty much only entertain ones that I can test ride as I don't want to get stuck with something that doesn't work for me, and there really aren't many places locally (or even not so locally) to go sit on saddles in a store.

    Money isn't a big issue, but if a saddle is big money I do want it to be worth big money.
    Last edited by Minerva Louise; Feb. 1, 2010, 01:40 PM. Reason: update

  • #2
    google: BH805 Big Horn Flex Tree Trail Saddle
    they run for $1000 and have a memory foam seat and flocking.
    For a western saddle they have a VERY narrow twist (it sits with a balance point like my passier, but WAY squishier)
    The stirrups have lots of swing to them so your knees dont get tired, there's a gazillion ways to rig the girth so it stays in place no matter what bizarre conformation you are dealing with.

    This saddle rules!
    chaque pas est fait ensemble


    • #3
      go to Hillview Farms or Evolutionary Saddles. I got mine there.

      After years of packing different saddles for every horse, or buying a new saddle every time I changed horses, I bought a couple of her saddles and could not be happier. It fits my whole herd and I have a high withered slab sided Walker, a mule, an old appy losing flesh, fat arabs a lean off the track horse AND a quarter horse.

      These saddles are not cheap, but to buy one that will fit whatever you ride is worth the money. We ride for 6-8 hours so I have heavily tested these saddles.

      Everyone's definition of high withered, fat backed etc is personal. A saddle that fits one will not fit another and even if it fits the horse it may not fit you! Spend a little more to save thousands in the future. Wish I would have bought one of these 30 years ago! (of course they were not around then but you get the drift)!


      • #4
        Ditto the Evolutionary Saddles from Hillview Farms.



        • #5
          Here are a few choices



          They come in Light Oil, Mahogany, Black, Chocolate and many choices of Trees, Rigging, etc.



          • #6
            I know many folks rave about their Tennesseean Saddles:



            • #7
              I would not recommend buying a saddle for a rental gaited horse if it is not a Treeless or a tree that you can shim to fit or like the Ortho-Flex. Gaited horses need a good fitting saddle to be able to freely move their shoulders to gait. I own 8 gaited horses and use a Sensation and a Torsion Treeless with different saddle pads to get the right fit. I had the Bighorn endurance but found it to be too heavy, very comfy but they come in wide or regular trees and if you get the wrong one it will be uncomfortable for the horse. My saddles have western fenders and very secure seats.


              • #8
                David Stackhouse is coming to PA. He could make you one for not much more than a high end off the rack saddle. But you'd need to come up with a horse for him to measure.


                • #9
                  I've heard mixed reviews on the Tennessean saddles, both in terms of their comfort to horse and rider AND that they're not nearly as "pretty" in person as they look in the catalog.

                  Another name that gets tossed around for gaited horses is the Brenda Imus saddle. Personally, I wouldn't touch any of her products with a ten foot pole after the bit I bought was experiencing serious dysfunction only two years after I bought it. Her "customer service" was anything but. Some people do rave about her stuff. . .but I kind of put them in the same category as the Parellites. . .'nuff said.

                  Both my boyfriend and I ride our (gaited) horses in Tucker saddles. He has the plantation style, I have an older Cheyenne trail (western, with a horn. . .which I now realize was a mistake after riding English for so many years). Other than the horn, it is a REALLY comfortable saddle. Sadly, it no longer fits my own TWH but it does fit one of the horses that my boyfriend owns. . .so it's not for sale, yet. I found a very similar-to-a-Tucker saddle on eBay last summer and bought it for $250 (shipping included!). Best of all, it fits my horse and doesn't have a horn. I just have no idea who the maker is. . .can't find a stamp or plate anywhere. For that price, though, I don't care as long as it works for my horse.

                  Steele makes an excellent trail saddle. . .Another would be the Robert or Eli Miller saddles, though they may be harder to come by these days. There is also Montana Mountain Horse. I bought a pulling breastcollar from them a couple of years ago and they were fantastic. Good service, and I LOVE the breastcollar. They do make their own saddles, including ones for gaited horses, and they do custom makes.

                  To me, the jury is still kind of out on the treeless thing. SOme people rave about them, others have had bad experiences of their own and told me not to bother. I think, with a treeless, you would want to be especially sure it would work okay when you ride the barn's horses.

                  In the meantime. . .you could always buy one of those sheepskin bum-cushions that straps onto the saddle. Just don't ride through deep water or get stuck in the rain, because you'll end up with a VERY wet tush for the rest of the ride.
                  Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.


                  • #10
                    Not being a fan of the "treeless" variety I'd strike them from consideration immediately.

                    I have my doubts about the "adjustable variety" and the "one kind fits all" variety. I've got a Stubben Scout that really does seem to fit a wider range of conformations than I'd have thought, but it's not a "universal" fit.

                    How similar in conformation are the horses you ride? If they are similar and you like it and it's likely you'll buy a horse with that conformation then it makes sense to spend some real money on a good saddle.

                    But if the above is not true in any particular then you're likely not going to be able to use one saddle over the long haul.

                    Possible solution: multiple saddles for multiple horses. Right now everything in the horse industry is "on sale." You can buy really good quality, used saddles for very reasonable prices. So instead of one new or nearly new saddle get two or three older, good condition, good quality saddles. It's a good compromise for the horse's back and your butt!

                    As to brand, Tucker and Steele have good names. We've owned a Steele and were very satisfied. I've seen many Tuckers and they were uniformly well made. There are other good brands out there. It certainly pays to "shop around."

                    And, given the poor overall condition of the equine economy don't be afraid to negotiate with a "sharp pencil."

                    Good luck in your search.

                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                    • #11
                      I agree w/ the 'get a tush cush' suggestion.

                      Even the hideously expensive ones are MUCH cheaper than a new saddle.

                      Memory foam types: Skito makes one, Heather moffet makes one

                      Closed cell types: Cashel

                      Merino wool: bunches and bunches

                      Even supracor makes one!

                      And there are probably some gel ones out there, too!


                      • Original Poster

                        Wow- I am thrilled to see so many responses! I really appreciate the help; there are so many choices out there and it is wonderful to at least have some directions to look towards.

                        One thing I should probably point out is that I don't think poor rentahorse was much more comfortable than I was; the gait I got from him was almost pure pace though in his defense he is only 3 and gets ridden strictly by tourists. I thought he was a saint for trucking along as well as he did. It's not like I was doing a fabulous job riding as well, because by two minutes into the ride my butt was toast.

                        Either they have several of this same saddle that they automatically put on every horse they have regardless of fit or I have been really unlucky- I have ridden there several times, always get a different horse, and always get a black saddle with teal cordura stirrups and it always bruises my seatbones. I think they just throw a thick pad on under these saddles and call it good enough. I wish they'd throw a thick pad OVER the saddle, as well as under it!

                        Sooo, that leads me to think that if I just bought a decent saddle, as long as it fits the horse kinda ok then the horse is at the very least no worse off than if I was riding in the rentasaddle, and hopefully the horse is better off. Of course, I might be able to find one or two horses that fit my saddle best and request them specifically when I phone in my ride reservation.

                        Really though, I am going to have to have a different saddle because elsewise I just can't ride. I just cannot take this bruising. It's severe. There is much swelling. There is much discoloration. DH (who is a nurse practitioner) saw it and was all

                        Anyway- I have been reading up on all these saddles mentioned so far. Thank you all for taking the time to give me leads! If anybody else has more, throw it at me- I am really enjoying looking at all the ideas!


                        • Original Poster

                          Wanted to add:

                          I know a tush cushion would be a cheaper alternative.


                          There are other issues with the rental saddles, like stirrup placement and lack of flexibility. And all the rental saddles of course have horns. Which leads me to think that my own saddle would be nicer....


                          • #14
                            Really though, I am going to have to have a different saddle because elsewise I just can't ride. I just cannot take this bruising. It's severe. There is much swelling. There is much discoloration. DH (who is a nurse practitioner) saw it and was all

                            !!!!! That sounds like a bigger issue than just a hard saddle!!!! Like maybe it doesn't even CLOSE to fit the horse!


                            • #15
                              Hard to believe that riding a gaited horse left you uncomfortable and bruised! Yikes.

                              For comfort and still a fairly secure seat, what about a deep dressage saddle? It would free up the horse's shoulders better than a western saddle, plus might be more balanced and comfortable for you. Most western saddles do seem to put the stirrup too far forward for a gaited horse. Put a grab strap on a dressage saddle and no worries about a horn jabbing into your midriff.

                              When you read up on treeless saddles, you'll see a lot of recommendations that they are *not* good for riders who weigh more than 150lbs since there's no tree to spread out the weight and alleviate pressure.

                              Regardless of the saddle you end up with (yours or a different saddle borrowed from the rental stable), why don't you try a Thinline saddle pad first? Cheaper than buying a saddle and makes a world of difference.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Curiously View Post
                                When you read up on treeless saddles, you'll see a lot of recommendations that they are *not* good for riders who weigh more than 150lbs since there's no tree to spread out the weight and alleviate pressure.

                                I thought 200 lbs was the recommended limit.
                                "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by dreamswept View Post
                                  I thought 200 lbs was the recommended limit.
                                  Perhaps that's *including* the saddle itself, plus possibly other accessories like saddle bags, maybe water bottles, what-have-you, so that the combined weight of rider with all tack is not to exceed 200lbs? I've generally heard that the rider should not be more than 150lbs.

                                  Get down to it, if the rider is 200lbs, plus tack, etc., you're starting to approach the weight limit for any horse with any saddle, not just a treeless saddle. Depending on the individual circumstances, of course.


                                  • #18
                                    A treeless saddle is a good option if you want one to fit several horses and riders. Sensation makes a quality line of treeless saddles that work very well for gaited horses. I have a Sensation Hybrid http://www.freedomtreeless.com/G3Hybrid.html which I absolutely LOVE. It has enough twist for me so it doesn't pull my hips out of socket. I just rode 3 days in a row while horse camping in Florida this weekend and have absolutely no pain in my seat bones, hips or knees. All the treed saddle riders that were with me are complaining of pain, not me though! Sensation also makes a western model: http://www.freedomtreeless.com/G4Western.html. You can demo any saddle for free (just pay shipping). I highly recommend checking them out. BTW I weigh 175 pounds and my horse has never had any soreness or pressure issues. Proper padding is the key. I demoed and purchased mine from Melissa at Freedom Treeless http://www.freedomtreeless.com/

                                    I have to say this....most people who are adamantly against treeless saddles have either never tried one, have tried one that wasn't right for them or their horse or are just regurgitating things they've heard from others who have a predjudice against treeless saddles. Just like treed saddles a treeless saddle has to fit your horse, it has to be properly padded to create a spine channel and no one saddle is going to fit every horse. That being said any given treeless saddle is going to fit a wider range of horses than any given treed saddle.

                                    EDIT: My saddle, including everything probably doesn't weigh much over 10 or 15 pounds so it is much lighter than any treed saddle out there too.
                                    "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Curiously View Post
                                      Perhaps that's *including* the saddle itself, plus possibly other accessories like saddle bags, maybe water bottles, what-have-you, so that the combined weight of rider with all tack is not to exceed 200lbs? I've generally heard that the rider should not be more than 150lbs.

                                      Get down to it, if the rider is 200lbs, plus tack, etc., you're starting to approach the weight limit for any horse with any saddle, not just a treeless saddle. Depending on the individual circumstances, of course.
                                      On behalf of myself and all 200 pound or over riders everywhere I respectfully submit: hogwash. Plenty of horses can tote heavyweight riders and tack just fine.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by jeano View Post
                                        On behalf of myself and all 200 pound or over riders everywhere I respectfully submit: hogwash. Plenty of horses can tote heavyweight riders and tack just fine.
                                        LOL..... I agree...

                                        I have a friend who rides in a Bob Marshal and is over that magic number, she is very knowledgeable about Horses, Saddles, Training, Teaching, Etc.

                                        The key to using a Treeless is to have the Correct Pad under the Saddle to help in weight distribution, I think she uses a Skito Pad, even the 125lbs riders need a proper fitting Saddle and the Correct Saddle pad, in any type of Saddle!

                                        It is the same thing with a Treed Saddle, you must make sure the bars have the correct rock in them, correct gullet width, correct bar spread and the correct fit for the back of the saddle bars too.